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Restoring The Orchard Log for the Year 2008

We came across a local chestnut orchard a few miles from our own. The owner was someone we had known outside of chestnuts but did not know they grew chestnuts. The orchard is small consisting of about 11 trees. The trees are all about 10 years old. The property owner bought the trees from Burnt Ridge Nursery and planted the trees not knowing anything about growing chestnuts. We can use this orchard as an example of how to fix up chestnut trees to get the most out of them.

Lets identify some of the issues. The spacing of the trees is causing the trees to grow into each other. The experts tell us that chestnut trees require unobstructed sunlight on the nut bearing branches. The property owner tells us that the trees have not been producing as advertised. The most amount of nuts harvested has been about 200 pounds. This is less than 20 lbs per tree. One of the trees has never produced any nuts. Another tree produces great tasting sweet chestnuts but the nuts are small. This might be a Layeroka chestnut tree that provides nuts but the nuts are on the small size. The trees have never been fertilized. Sucker growth has not been controlled.

Lets see if we can set some goals. First, with 10 year old chestnut trees we would expect at least 25 lbs of nuts per tree each year. So far only one year has provided the 200 lbs of nuts. The tree that has never produced will be grafted to a known cultivar of superior quality and size chestnuts. The orchard will be properly fertilized this year. The trees will have at least 18" of new growth on the producing branches. All shaded branches will be removed. Trees growing upright will be top cut to create a more sprawling structure. The interior of the chestnut trees will be opened to sunlight. Finally, each tree will be limited to 15' of vertical canopy. This makes sure none of the surrounding trees will be shaded by any neighboring trees. Over the next 3 years we should be able to get production up to 25 lbs of nuts per tree. Then by the 6th year of good orchard management we want production up to 30 pounds per tree. The trees will be 16 years old then. By the time the trees reach their 20th fall season we want the trees producing 35 pounds of chestnuts per tree.

Early Spring 2008

This spring our focus is to get some of the major problems resolved.