SWEET CHESTNUT (Castanea)

European chestnut (Castanea Sativa)
Chinese chestnut (Castanea Mollissima)
Japanese chestnut (Castanea Crenata)
American chestnut (Castanea Dentata)
Henry chinkapin (Castanea henryi)
Ozark chinkapin (Castanea ozarkensis)
Seguin chestnut (Castanea seguinii)
Allegheny chinkapin (Castanea pumila)

Chinese seedlings (Castanea mollissima) - Grown from open-pollinated seed collected from superior mother trees, selected for nut production characteristics including large nut size, good kernel qualities, consistent yields, blight resistance, cold hardiness.

Chestnuts are majestic trees capable of producing large quantities of delicious nuts every year. They bloom in early summer & ripen in early fall. They form inside prickly husks that are squirrel proof until they fall ripe from the trees. European & American chestnuts & their hybrids are potentially large spreading shade trees when grown in the open, although most orchard spacings are at 25 foot intervals. Denser spacings of up to 12 ft. will produce fine timber. Chestnut wood is an excellent, attractive & rot resistant hardwood. Chestnuts need a sunny location with good soil drainage

Pollination:

Chestnut trees are self infertile. That means that they must have another chestnut tree nearby with viable pollen to produce nuts.

Whilst all varieties produce male catkins and female flowers on new season's shoots, the male pollen may no longer be present when the female flower is ready for pollination. It is therefore recommended that several different varieties be planted for the purposes of commercial production. Pollen is transferred from one tree to another by wind.

Seed Sowing:

Seed - where possible sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in a seed bed outdoors. The seed must be protected from mice and squirrels. The seed has a short viability and must not be allowed to become dry.

Cultivation details:

Chestnuts require a well-drained soil, better drained than apple trees require. The most common mistake in chestnut cultivation is to plant them on sites that are too wet or too "heavy" (too much clay). Clay soils can be tolerated if there is good surface drainage (slope), but chestnuts do best on deep, sandy loams (rocks and gravel are okay). Soil pH should be acidic, between 4.5 and 6.5. Chestnuts won't tolerate calcareous (limestone) soils. Chestnuts don't require a very fertile soil, but do respond well to fertilizer.

Chestnut trees, like other fruit and nut trees, are sensitive to late spring frosts, and therefore, should be planted on hilltops, near large bodies of water, or other frost-protected sites. Chestnuts are very drought tolerant on good (deep soil) sites. However, in order to grow well, bear consistent crops, and bear large-sized nuts, they need adequate moisture throughout the growing season.

Harvesting:

Gather Chinese Chestnuts as soon as they fall from the burrs. Keep them out of the sun, since it will dry out the nuts. Harvesting is easier if the grass under the tree is kept mowed low. The nuts drop over a two week period and should be collected every two days. Place nuts on a screen in a shady, cool, rather humid, well-ventilated place for several days to cure. Chinese chestnuts have a high starch and water content and a very low oil content. Nuts lack flavour when burrs open and chestnuts fall, but after they dry slowly for one to two weeks in a cool place (50-65̊F), starches are converted to sugars and flavour improves tremendously.

Chestnuts should be cooked before eating and are often roasted or boiled. To cook them in a microwave oven, puncture all but one chestnut with a knife point and put them in a covered glass casserole dish. They are done when the unpunctured one explodes. Boiling nuts for 3 to 4 minutes in water will make the shell soft and much easier to peel with a sharp knife when they are to be used for cooking.

Don't Let Chestnuts Get Too Dry. Nuts should remain nearly as plump as they were at harvest. Chinese chestnuts may be stored by sealing whole nuts in air-tight containers and placing them in the refrigerator at 30-45 deg F, or in the freezer. If you store them in the refrigerator, check the nuts occasionally and eliminate any with mould. Reduce mould in storage by placing the nuts in a hot water bath at 120 deg F for one hour before storing. See the section on chestnut weevil control.

Cultivars:

American Sweet - This native Eastern variety produces small nuts, which are much sweeter than any other kind. Tree very hardy and a strong, upright grower.

Amy - Pure Chinese, selected from our orchard, medium to large sized nuts, early ripening (a few days earlier than 'Eaton')

AU-Homestead - Selected at Auburn, AL; cold-hardy to -20 degrees F, medium-sized nuts, late ripening, reportedly some gall wasp resistance

AU Leader - Very sweet large nut. Excellent flavour raw or roasted.

Armstrong - This medium to large nut is one of the best tasting, but it doesn't keep long in storage. The tree bears very well. Chinese X American hybrid.

BELLE EPINE CHESTNUT (Castanea crenatata x C. sativa)
Very high quality, reddish brown nuts are late ripening, yet do ripen sufficiently here in the Northern edge of chestnut culture. Good disease resistance and an excellent pollinator. In the North, nuts come down in the husk, protecting them from jays and squirrels.

BISALTA #3 CHESTNUT (European X Japanese)
Nuts can be very large, however overbearing can result in up to 6 nuts per bur - resulting in mid sized nuts. A vigorous, productive tree with good flavored nuts. Good pollinator. Blight resistant European X Japanese cultivar.

BOUCHE DE BETIZAC (European x Japanese)
Vigorous, upright tree produces large crops of big nuts that taste good and peel well. A widely adapted tree, resistant to blight and phytopthora root rot. A European X Japanese selection from France. Pollen sterile. Ripens late, yet able to ripen in cooler climates

Bournette - Mid-late season ripening. Hybrid variety bearing Large dark brown nuts. Pollinator. Spreading tree.

Bright - Has a large nut with a very sweet high quality kernel with an excellent taste. This is an outstanding selection and is highly recommended.

Byron (formerly 'Lindstrom 67') - Selection from Jerry Payne's planting in Byron, GA, vigorous grower, large nuts (but mis-shapen)

Carr - Old cultivar, medium to large-sized nuts, upright growth habit

Chandler - Selected by George Smith in South Carolina

CHINESE CHESTNUT (Castanea mollissima)
Smaller, rounded tree. Blight resistant, fine quality, easy peeling, sweet nuts.

COLOSSAL CHESTNUT (Japanese x European)
Parent tree produces exceptionally big nuts of good quality. Very productive. Early ripening, easy peeling, popular orchard variety. Has survived -28įF. Pollen sterile. Does best in warm summer climate regions.

Comfort - A very large, handsome nut, that has been grown in Pennsylvania for many years, and is found so nearly identical with Pargon in growth and fruit that it is not improbable that it was a nut of this variety from which Mr. Schaeffer, of Germantown, grew the original Paragon tree. Comes to fruit age very young, and is an enormous bearer of nuts of very good quality.

CONNECTICUT EARLY CHESTNUT (Castanea sp.)
This probable cross of Allegheny Chinkapin with Chinese Chestnut has produced a tree with the earliest ripening of any chestnut we've seen.

Crane - Chinese selection from the Chekiang province of China. Nuts are dark red to brown in colour, flavour and keeping qualities are excellent. Crane is best adapted to the middle and southern USA. Produces a large tasty nut in this region. 32 to 40 per Lb.

Eaton - Flavour, texture and sweetness are among the best. Ripens 3 to 7 days, earlier than most Chinese. 30 to 40 nuts per lb.

EUROPEAN CHESTNUT (Castanea sativa)
Medium to large nuts, good quality, from highly productive parents. Large timber quality tree. Blight susceptible. Zone 5 - 8.

Fordís Sweet - A heavy bearing timber-type Chinese chestnut that has a sweet kernel like the American Chestnut. Nuts are small and make good wildlife food.

Fordís Tall - A timber-type Chinese chestnut similar to Fordís Sweet that reaches a height of 70 feet. Medium sized nuts.

Gideon - Pure Chinese, selected from our orchard, medium to large sized nuts, mid-season ripening

Grimo 112X - This is a seedling selection of unknown origin (possibly a Layeroka seedling). The tree is vigorous and productive. The nuts are sweet, large and early to mid season ripening. It is moderately resistant to chestnut blight. It is a good pollinator.

Grimo 114W - This is a hand cross of Layeroka x Douglass Manchurian. The Manchurian is a pure Chinese chestnut that has never blighted. 114W has been very resistant to blight too, but has the vigour and upright form needed in a good orchard selection. The nuts are large with some variability in size, sweet and attractive. It is pollen sterile and so can't be used without another pollen source.

Grimo 142Q - This is a selected seedling of Layeroka. It is very early ripening, starting to drop nuts about mid September. It is a consistent cropper of large, sweet very attractive nuts. The tree is vigorous and hardy, but moderately susceptible to blight. It has sterile pollen.

Japan Giant Chestnut - The tree is decidedly ornamental, hardy and productive, of dwarf habit, bearing extremely young; nuts of enormous size.

Japan Mammoth - Immense size, and of fine flavor; the burrs contain at times as many as five large nuts; the tree is similar in habit and growth to the Italian Chestnut; they yield fruit in two years after planting; seedlings vary in size and shape, as well as in habit of growth and productiveness, and are not so reliable as grafted trees. Early Reliance (Japan). Tree of dwarf, spreading habit; begins to bear very young. Nuts large, smooth and very attractive. Enormously productive.

Kohr - Selected by Clarence Kohr in Pennsylvania

Laguepie - Mid season ripening. Nuts medium sized.

LAYEROKA CHESTNUT (Chinese x European)
Early ripening variety. Heavy yield of medium to large, sweet nuts. Precocious, vigorous tree, erect timber form, very winter hardy, blight resistant. Pollen sterile. Zone 4-8.

Maraval - Mid-late season ripening. Natural hybrid, bears medium-large nuts - shining mahogany-red. Pollinator.

Maridonne - Late season ripening. Hybrid variety, bearing large nuts of very good quality.

Marigoule - Very early season ripening. Good crops of large nuts. Pollinator. Upright vigorous tree.

Marlhac - Mid-late season ripening. Hybrid variety. Medium sized nuts.

MARRISARD CHESTNUT (Castanea crenatata x Castanea sativa
Very large nuts, good flavour and peeling quality. Especially good in hot climates, where it produces nuts larger than Colossal. Pollen sterile, late ripening. Very disease resistant to blight and phytopthora.

Marron Comballe - Early-mid season. Large, light brown nuts of good quality

Marron de Lyon - Mid-late season ripening. Good crops of very large nuts.

MARRON DI VAL DI SUZA - (Castanea sativa)
Large, sweet, easy peeling variety from Northern Italy. Plump, rounded nuts in well filled burrs. Ripens well in cool Northern regions despite it being a late ripener. Burrs often drop before opening, protecting nuts from predation by wildlife.

MARRON DU VAR CHESTNUT (Castanea sativa)
Very large easy peeling variety, originating in France. Late ripening, pollen sterile.

Marron Goujounac - Mid season ripening. Good crops of large light brown nuts. Good pollinator

Marsol - Mid season ripening. Hybrid variety. Medium sized nuts.

Meiling -Large, good-flavored nut; early and heavy bearer; good keeping qualities. Chinese.

Mendes -A very hardy and productive Chinese selection, medium-sized nut with a short season.

Mossbarger - Chinese A hardy variety from Glendale Kentucky. A vigorous grower with large spreading canopy and bears early. Nuts are sweet and peel very easily. 30 to 40 per lb.

Nanking - Was once a very popular cultivar in southeastern USA, medium to large sized nuts, late ripening, tends to over-produce resulting in smaller nut size

NEVADA CHESTNUT (Castanea sativa)
Colossal pollinator. Produces a medium sized nut that ripens several weeks after Colossal.

Norris - Reportedly resistant to chestnut weevils, medium sized nuts

Numbo - A hardy, productive variety of European origin, but seems well adapted to this. climate. It ripens early, nuts are large and of good quality. An early fruiter; an exceedingly productive and annual bearer.

Orrin - Similar to 'Nanking', medium to large sized nuts, mid-season ripening, tends to over-produce resulting in smaller nut size

Paragon - This is most likely the "Sober Paragon", an American-European hybrid widely planted in the early 1900's. It has a vigorous, upright growth habit, is a consistent bearer of medium-sized nuts, mid-season ripening, very blight susceptible, It has produced many outstanding offspring both in terms of nut production and timber-type growth.

Payne (formerly 'Byron 3-3') - Pure Chinese, selected from Jerry Payne's USDA planting in Byron, GA; very large nuts; not yet widely tested

Peach - Pure Chinese, selected from our orchard, medium to large sized nuts, mid-season ripening

Perry (formerly 'Lindstrom 93') - Selection from Jerry Payne's planting in Byron, GA; nuts slightly smaller than 'Byron' but better shaped.

PRECOCE MIGOULE CHESTNUT (European x Japanese)
Our earliest ripening grafted variety. Very dependable producer in cool regions. Large nuts of good flavour on a vigorous, upright tree. Good pollinator for Colossal and others. Blight resistant. European X Japanese hybrid.

Ridgley - Tree of immense size and very productive, more than 5 bushels of nuts, have been gathered from the original tree in a single season; burrs are of medium size and carry from 2 to 8 nuts each; nuts of medium size, with some fuzz at point; kernels sweet and of good quality. One of the most valuable. Tree very healthy.

Rousse de Nay - Very early season. Large dark brown nuts of good quality. Good pollinator.

Qing- Chinese selection, Very sweet nuts, Pellicle separates freely from nut, 2 to 4 nuts per bur, Nuts are a light mahogany in colour. Qing has no sign of chestnut blight. Original tree planted in 1938 and to date tree is 114 inches in diameter and 35 feet tall. An excellent commercial nut due to its taste, size and keeping qualities. 18 to 22 nuts per lb.

Shing - Pure Chinese from Nanjing, China, seedling selected by Mike Nave in California; vigorous, productive, large-sized nuts; not yet widely tested

SILVERLEAF CHESTNUT (a.k.a Eurobella) (Castanea crenata x)
( A.K.A. Eurobella)- Narrow upright tree is an excellent pollen producer for Colossal and others. Productive of good sized, sweet, easy peeling nuts. Widely adapted and blight resistant.

SKIOKA CHESTNUT (Chinese x European)
Similar in tree form and overall nut quality to Layeroka, but less productive. A good pollinator, nuts ripening a little later with some remaining in the husk. Parent of Layeroka and Skookum

SKOOKUM CHESTNUT (Chinese x European)
Remarkably vigorous timber form. Best flavoured variety. Pollen sterile.

SLEEPING GIANT CHESTNUT (Chinese x American x Japanese)
Parent tree has large timber form with big sweet nuts and early ripening . Tree is spreading and blight-free, sweet nuts peel well. 35 to 40 per lb.

Smith - Selected by George Smith in South Carolina

TO613 CHESTNUT Castanea crenatata x C. sativa
An excellent timber selection of chestnut.

Verdale - Early season ripening. Medium sized dark brown nuts which store very well.

Vignols - Very early to early season ripening. Good crops of large nuts. Pollinator.

W.C. - Chinese From Louisville, KY. Large dark colored nuts. Spreading tree with great orchard form. Good keeper sweet and peels very well. Very vigorous grower.23 to 25 per lb.

 

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