Planting Chestnut Trees for Deer

Bob Wallace from Chestnut Hill Outdoors shows how to properly plant and care for chestnut trees.

Perhaps you've considered whether planting chestnut trees is a good idea for your whitetail property? And maybe you're not exactly sure how to plant a chestnut tree to give it the best chance of survival?

In the video above, Bob Wallace of Chestnut Hill Tree Farm visited former Whitetail Journal Editor Mark Olis at his Borrowed Acres property to talk food plot trees.

Specifically, Wallace discussed Dunstan Chestnut trees, which are resistant to the blight that wiped out the American Chestnut trees in the 1800s. Wallace also demonstrated how to properly plant wildlife trees and how to properly care for them.

When our English ancestors arrived and began settling the country, they found the American chestnut to be plentiful throughout the Eastern hardwood forests. Deep into the Southeast and up into the Northeast, these hearty trees provided nuts for humans and animals along with dense, beautiful lumber for homes, furniture and businesses.

In the early 1900s, a bark fungus accidentally introduced from the Orient almost entirely decimated the American chestnut. Within 40 years, more than 30 million acres of chestnut trees were killed from Maine to Georgia and west to the Mississippi River.

This American treasure was feared lost, but according to Chestnut Hill:

In the early 1950s, James Carpentar of Salem, Ohio, discovered a large living American chestnut in a grove of dead and dying trees. A member of the Northern Nut Growers Association, Carpentar was very impressed with the tree as it showed no evidence of blight infection. Over the next several years, he inoculated the tree with active blight spores and mycelia, but failed to induce any infection in the tree.

Carpentar sent budwood to Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, a fellow member of NNGA and well-known plant breeder in Greensboro, N.C. Dunstan grafted the scions onto chestnut rootstock and the trees grew well. He cross-pollinated the American grafts with a mixture of 3 superior USDA released Chinese chestnut selections: "Kuling," "Meiling," and "Nanking."

In 1962 seedlings began to bear nuts. Continued grafting from the best trees in the second and third generations produced the 500 trees planted in 1984 to create Chestnut Hill in Florida. From there, today's offerings for blight-resistant Dunstan chestnuts are procured and shipped to help restore this American treasure once feared lost forever.


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