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Intro to Trees Episode 3: Chestnuts

Another species of trees that we planted is the Dunstan Chestnut. A lot of people don’t know the history behind the chestnut tree, but I think it is interesting!

In the early 1900’s the American chestnut was almost completely destroyed by a bark fungus, also known as blight. Later on in the 1950’s, an American chestnut tree was found growing in the middle of a forest. The bud wood was sent to a well-known plant breeder in North Carolina named Dr. Dunstan. He cross pollinated it with Chinese chestnut selections to get a blight resistant species, the Dunstan Chestnut.

One thing that I think is pretty neat about the Dunstan Chestnut is that it was the first chestnut to ever receive a U.S. Plant Patent.

Here on the Priefert Ranch we grow Dunstan Chestnuts. According to Chestnut Hill Outdoors, “they grow the Dunstan Chestnuts because of its disease resistance and heavy annual crops of very large, sweet nuts.” Dunstan’s are high in protein and carbs which makes them a really good energy source.

Did you know that a deer’s taste buds are 1,000 times more sensitive than humans?? The acorns on oak trees can have a bitter tasting tannin whereas chestnuts don’t have tannin.

According to an article I found “Chestnuts are Deer's Preferred Food”, wildlife prefers chestnuts over acorns by 100:1. Since chestnut trees will start putting off nuts every year after the first 3 to 5 years and oaks can take up 10 – 20 years, I decided to plant a few more chestnut trees than oak trees!

Chestnut Hill Outdoor also recommended that I put grow tubes around the base of the trees. Grow tubes are just plastic tubes that act as a greenhouse for the tree to help it grow straighter, keep the elements off, etc. The grow tube will stay around the tree until it outgrows the tube, typically after about 5 years.

Another reason I used a tube is because the deer like to browse. They don’t realize that eating the top of a young tree will keep the tree from growing as quickly. The quicker chestnut trees grow, the quicker it will produce nuts!

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about chestnut trees. This is the 3rd blog in a 5 part series covering the trees that we planted.

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