PLANTING AND CARE OF AMERICAN CHESTNUT

By Robert H. Scheutzow, Rochester, NY Revised 11/23/76

Online transcription and additional bracketed comments by Rick Inzero, rdi@rochester.rr.com


SOIL  -Well drained (sandy loam) - No clay - slightly acid.

PLANTING  -Use no fertilizer nor manure- lay nut on side (sprout comes from point) 
under 1 inch of lightly tamped soil - space 50-75 feet.

POLLINATION  -Although trees are bi-sexual, they are not self pollinating, you 
need 2 or more.

TIMING  -Plant outdoors as soon as possible after nut drops from tree.  If 
necessary to "hold" seed for several days, store on plastic or metal mesh in 
"crisper trays" of refrigerator.  This prevents drying out and mildew.
	
-Start in garden.  Transplant in early spring after leaves appear in 2nd year, 
e.g. if nuts are planted in 1978, transplant seedlings in spring of 1980.
	
-Mulch- (seed and 1st year seedlings).  Use leaves or chopped straw to 
protect from extreme winter cold with little, or no snow cover.  Remove in 
Spring.

RODENT PROTECTION  -Mesh screen over seed is usually enough.  Do not forget 
to remove screening in April before sprout shows.  If squirrels are nearby, 
[the sprouted] seedlings should be protected- cover entire seedling with a 1 foot 
screen cage for 2 months.  [Without the cage, they will dig up and chew 
sprouted nuts even though the tree is several inches tall, with leaves!]

WHERE  -Trees planted in sunlight usually bear in 8-10 years.  Trees 
receiving direct sunlight on base of trunk will grow sprouts from 
base- DO NOT PRUNE - these sprouts are nature's protection against sun 
scald and fungus infestation.  For the same reason, gradually remove 
shading (southerly) branches, and adjacent trees.

PRUNING  -Any necessary pruning should be done in winter.  Both 
tree and fungus are dormant.  Dress all wounds possible.

PROGRESS  -(Regional) Seeds usually sprout in mid-May depending on 
weather.  [So don't get discouraged if you don't see anything break ground 
in April.]  Trees blossom in late June into July.  Harvest starts in the 
last week of September and usually continues through the 2nd week of 
October. (All seeds should be planted by 1st week of November.)

EATING  -Nuts are "green" as they leave the burr.  To soften and 
sweeten, leave at room temperature until shell "dents" when pinched.  
Before trying to roast, be sure to cut vents in skin.
[To avoid infecting the tree with the blight, do not pick the burrs or 
nuts.  Wait until they naturally fall to the ground.]

[Aside from Rick:  I'd always dreamed of growing an American Chestnut ever 
since I was a little boy and ran across one in my Grandfather's basement
workshop, where he told me of the tree that used to be so abundant that
was now all but extinct.  I read about the mature Scheutzow trees in 
Floyd King's outdoor article back in the 1980s.  Mr. Scheutzow's trees were
well taken care of and mature, seemingly resistant to the blight.  While 
I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Scheutzow, I thank his kind wife for
letting me take some of their good seeds and providing me with her husband's
written instruction sheet, transcribed above, back in 1992.  From personal
experience, I can tell you that Mr. Scheutzow had invested much time and
worked out all the kinks for growing these nuts.]