COS Goes to Italy To See Our New Harvester and Timely Tips Continue Under the Pages Menu

Since Chestnut Orchard Solutions made the decision to purchase the largest chestnut harvesting unit known, we travelled to Italy to see it being assembled at the FACMA facility.  We are lucky we did this because while there we found an accessory for the machine that makes it even more friendly for all Michigan orchards, especially smaller ones.  This new addition is a bin that fits on the back of the harvester, meaning we don’t need to pull a large trailer through the orchard for just a few hundred pounds.  FACMA is always coming up with new innovations.

The FACMA 380s is the biggest machine FACMA makes.  With an 80 hp EPA-approved diesel engine, it is more than double the power of MSU’s FACMA 180s machine.  More power means a faster harvest which means more orchards can be harvested in the harvest season.  Here are some photos of our 380S as they are assembling it on May 29, 2018.

Remember, FACMA makes machines that “harvest and clean”, we are emphasizing that the FACMA machines not only pick up the nuts, but also separate them from the burs, flat nuts, leaves and small sticks before sending them to the collection bins or bags. No other harvester does all this.  The machine will be shipped soon to it new home in Michigan.

Turbo-charged diesel engine

COS members Carmen Medina Mora and Dennis Fulbright with Raffaella and Michela who work so hard at FACMAComing soon to Michigan

30 Weekly Timely Tips Starting Today to Help with Your Chestnut Orchard

From now until Thanksgiving, COS will post Timely Tips to help you decide what tasks you should be working on in your orchard.  Take a look here, each week to find out the tasks on which you should be working.  On the right sidebar, under the pages menu, you will see our Timely Tips file.  Click there to find the weekly Tip.   Last week’s Tip will disappear, so be sure to follow them each week.  Remember, the task may last longer than the tip!

Hello Chestnut Growers -COS is back with big plans for the year

New Chestnut Orchards Solutions President Carmen Media Mora, Secretary Dennis Fulbright, along with our Treasurer, CPA Doug Jaaksi welcome you to a new chestnut season.  It  has been slow to start due to extended winter weather, but once it starts and buds break we will be racing to the first big hurdle, which you all know is the Mother Day’s frost. Then, once we skirt that event, we will head directly toward flowering and pollination time, around the end of June.  Check here often and we will have articles and photos from around the state to let you know what is happening in Michigan with chestnut.

We are glad to be here again and look forward to helping you.

Frost and Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp Meeting



Scroll Down for Information on Frost and the Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp Meeting

  1. Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp Field Trip

An Asian chestnut gall wasp (ACGW) education session combined with field trip will be held at the MSU Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) on Sunday, June 4th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Everything a grower needs to know about the ACGW will be presented during the Sunday meeting including what to look for, what to do when if/when it arrives, opportunities for experimental treatments, and spread of the parasitoid. We will explain the infestation process, the biological control parasitoid that is following the infestation and the outcomes of this infestation. See for yourself the galls, the damage, and parasitoids. As always, clients (owners of the same farm) and family members of clients are free and non-clients are $25. Water and snacks will be provided. We guarantee that if you don’t take any parts of the chestnut trees home, you will take the insect back to your orchards!

  1. Coming out of the May 8th and 9th frost events

In the early morning hours of May 8 and then repeated on May 9, a serious frost struck the Michigan landscape. Many different types of fruit trees, were advanced because of the warm weather experienced earlier in the spring. After driving around looking at various orchards it is obvious there is little pattern to the severity. In southwest Michigan, which was supposed to miss the frost, serious damage was done to trees in low lying areas. Orchards on high land in southwest Michigan, did not suffer as much as those where the frost drained or settled. In the northern lower peninsula, the trees were not advanced enough to experience severe damage, similar to the frost event of 2012. Between southwest Michigan and northern regions, a large range of frost damage can be observed from light damage to heavy, severe damage.

Focusing on the MSU Clarksville Research Center plot is probably the best way to describe what was seen around the state as Clarksville is 50 miles from the coast of the climate moderating Lake Michigan, 80 miles north of the Indiana state line, and on the 42nd parallel.

In the two tables below, from the MSU Enviroweather program, you can watch the temperatures drop during the morning hours of May 8 and then again on May 9.

Figures 1 and 2. Tables on temperatures May 8 and May 9 (

With as many weather stations they have reporting, you would think we would have specific knowledge regarding the low temperatures experienced in orchards those mornings, but it is not that simple. In Shelby for example, a grower, using multiple independent thermometers recorded temperatures in the low 20’s in his orchard and he was 5 miles from the reporting weather station. Another factor is that the station reporting may malfunction or be in the process of malfunctioning. Finally, the actual damage to the plant is based on a series of factors such as stage of bud development, microorganisms present on the plant tissue, length of temperature experienced, moisture, wind speed, dew point, height from the ground and topography of the orchard including elevation.

Taken together, it is no wonder why we see a spotty picture of severe and moderate frost events across the state with severe to moderate amounts of damage on chestnut trees.

Look at the figures below to assess the type of damage you may have had in your orchard. What we already know is that we will not be breaking any yield records in 2017. Some orchards will be reduced in yield, some severely. But some orchards have not been touched. Learn how to determine how much the frost hurt your trees, then determine how much per tree and then in October determine the final amount of yield from those trees.

In most cases damage is obvious after a frost with damaged leaves, dead buds, and with new buds pushing up and down the stems.  Sometimes it is best to go back and review how the chestnut tree would have grown without a frost like in 2016.  Below is a photo of a Colossal tree at the MSU Clarksville Research Center breaking bud without any significant frost damage.  Just below the blue arrowhead is the growing bud that is continuing to extend and push, showing no damage.  But this branch did go through the frost as the frost damage can be seen inside the red circles, so we know that this branch was involved with the frost, but it was either not cold enough long enough to kill the bud and the main stem continues to elongate. A lot of frost damage was seen at the CRC and yields will be reduced in 2017.

Trees with not much frost damage included those in the north where the buds were not pushed far enough to have received damage. Examples include the MSU Northwest Michigan Horticulture and Research Center on the Leelanau Peninsula, an established orchard in Kewadin close to the 45th parallel, and a new orchard in East Jordan on the 45th parallel.

No frost damage observed on one-year-old trees at the MSU Northwest Michigan Horticulture and Research Center (photo taken on May 16th a week after the frost), below.

No damage observed on 15-year-old Colossal trees in an orchard near Kewadin (photo taken on May 16th a week after the frost), below.
No damage observed on one-year-old grafted trees in a new orchard near East Jordan (photo taken on May 16th a week after the frost), below.
Damage was observed in Southwest Michigan, spotty along Lake Michigan coast line, frequent in mid-Michigan. Above are mature trees in Oceana County. No severe damage was noticed on any large mature 15-year-old Colossal chestnut trees in this orchard, below 2 photos.

Similar to the photo above, not only was this Colossal tree not damaged by frost, it was already pushing its sterile catkins, called catkin initials. The few dead branches that can be seen on the stem were dead before the frost.

However, in this same orchard in Oceana County, you can see some damage on the younger trees, but they were planted in a lower area. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if it was the location in the orchard, the fact that they were young, or a factor of them being young, that is short with branches more involved in lower, colder air. In the photo below you can see the dead bud circled in red, and all the surrounding laterals buds that break on make new branches, some with catkins. It becomes a mess of leaves and catkins, until there is enough growth to sort it out.

What’s going on inside the the buds that had pushed but ran into the frost? In the photo below, you can see the dead internal tissue. Those buds are dead and new lateral buds surrounding the dead bud will initiate growth. Even through the outer tissue may look green, if they tissue inside the stems die, then the bud will cease to elongate. Remember, the branch grows from the tip. Behind the dead bud, the leaves may enlarge, but that stem is not elongating from that bud, but from the buds that break around it.

The buds that break around the dead buds are called the lateral buds. They may have broken sometime during the season, but that they begin to push now is a sign that the terminal buds were damaged and the lateral buds will form the new leader. Here you see in red either dead buds or stems that pushed and then the buds died. Only the blue lines show the buds and stems that will grow into this summer.

Here is a stem from a Colossal tree at the MSU Clarksville Research Center. The red circles surround dead buds, the blue circles and lines show living buds and growing tissue. The circles show damaged leaves from the frost, not from insect damage. Later, this frost damage may look like insect damage. Here are catkin initials being produced, indicating a chance for female flowers being produced on the stem growing from lateral buds.

Here are buds on young trees (2-year-old) Bouche de Betizac where the bud died in the frost, but for every bud there are at least 2 more in that bud area ready to break. Odds are that young strong, young healthy trees that run into a frost, these lateral buds will break, push and grow into a new leader for the tree. As usual, red circles are dead buds and blue lines show living buds.


Preparing for the up coming frost event

Please check out the COS Hint #49 for information on the frosts expected this week.

In Hint #49 we cover

  • The forecasted frost event for May 8 and 9, 2017
  • What MSU says to do about it, and how to prepare
  • A History of Chestnuts and Frost in Michigan


To follow the temperatures around the state, please go to MSU Enviroweather at

Click on a weather station of interest. Then follow weather events by clicking on the

  • NEW Meteogram:Real-time observations in graphical format
  • follow the red line in the first graft for real time temperature data.
  • Scroll to the second graft which is rainfall
  • Then scroll to the third graft which is wind. Wind speed is really important. If the wind keeps blowing, frost will not be as bad.


Feel free to use the history links on the enviroweather website to see the results.

On your mark–get set–go for the 2017 chestnut season with COS

Three Important Items for Michigan Chestnut Growers to Note

1.An Asian chestnut gall wasp (ACGW) field trip will be held at MSU Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) June 4th. Everything a grower needs to know about the ACGW will be presented during the Sunday meeting. We will explain the infestation, the biological control parasitoid that is following the infestation and the outcomes of this infestation. See for yourself the galls, the damage, and parasitoids. As always, clients and family of clients are free and non-clients are $25. Water and snacks will be provided. Guaranteed, if you don’t take any parts of the chestnut trees home with you, there is no chance you will take the insect home with you!

2. A few bags of Higgins Mix fertilizer (ammonium sulfate 21%) are still available. Scroll down to previous posts to find information, including cost.

3.Not many chestnut orchards have been planted above the 45th parallel. Those who have planted that far north have established orchards in a mid-continental climate that challenges everything we know about chestnut farming. Sure, chestnut forests can be found north of the 45th parallel in Europe, and the original chestnut forest of North America grew north of the 45th parallel. But orchards are different than forests. In farming chestnut trees, we have chosen grafted cultivars with specific characteristics grafted onto unknown seedling rootstock. The challenges will be many, not only severe winters, short seasons and the potential of a mid-October frost, but all the other challenges of those who choose to farm in southern Michigan, including chestnut blight and leaf hopper. By growing at or above the 45th parallel, land values may be cheaper, Asian chestnut gall wasp may arrive several years from now (if ever), certain insects may be less severe such as Japanese beetle, and frosts may not occur as often or be as severe. (in the infamous frost of 2012, no northern chestnut orchards were damaged due to the mid-May frosts).

The photos in this report represent the major cultivars planted in this orchard at parallel 45.6. The trees were obtained from Forrest Keeling Nursery and planted in late September, 2016. On 29 April we watched them break bud and wake up to their new permanent home in northern Michigan. All photos were take on April 29th, 2017. How do these compare to yours? Not all trees survive. Check out the Hint #48 to determine what to do about trees not breaking bud by early May.


Figures 1 and 2. ‘Colossal’ trees just barely pushing bud scales, slightly more behind the other European X Japanese hybrids in the orchard. This cultivar will be in love with this location, however, it is possible the location will challenge the growing scenario of ‘Colossal’ when compared to the other cultivars.



Figures 3 and 4. ‘Bouche de Betizac’ has pushed beyond their bud scales. In this orchard, Green Screen was used on trees without deer fence or cage protection and no browse damage was noted when Green Screen was in place. If Asian chestnut gall wasp makes it this far north, it will be met with scores of Bouche de Betizac resisting the infestation of the Asian chestnut gall wasp. Bouche de Betizac nuts will be falling before ‘Colossal’ chestnuts once they go into production.


Figures 5 and 6. ‘Precoce Migoule’ like Colossal is somewhat slower to break bud. Not to worry, it will soon be producing abundant pollen for the pollen receptive ‘Colossal’ and ‘Bouche de Betizac’ trees.


Figures 7 and 8. ‘Labor Day’ was one of the more advanced cultivars in this orchard. The large swollen buds were breaking up and down the stems. This tree will be producing pollen and its chestnuts will always be off the trees and into the coolers well before any autumn frost may appear.


Figures 9 and 10. ‘Marigoule’ was similar to ‘Labor Day’ pushing buds on this 2nd to last day in April. Like ‘Precoce Migoule’ and ‘Labor Day’, it will be producing pollen and nuts. ‘Marigoule’ will have chestnut blight resistance and it will be winter hardy.


Figures 11 and 12. ‘Marisol’ was more advanced than ‘Marigoule’ in this orchard and came of of dormancy with lots of energy and vigor. Like ‘Precoce Migoule’, ‘Labor Day’, and ‘Marigoule’, it produces pollen and nuts. ‘Marisol’ will have chestnut blight resistance and it will be winter hardy.

COS Does Fertilizer

Hurry! Only twenty fifteen of the 120 50-pound bags are left.

50 lb Bags of Higgins Mix (Ammonium Sulfate + micronutrients)

For Sale

After the MSU Chestnut Establishment Meeting (click here for agenda and registration) adjourns at 4:00 pm at Clarksville, COS partners will present our spring fertilizing demonstration. We will meet you in the parking lot and take you out to the chestnut plots where we will discuss fertilizers and tree vigor, both factors needed in calculating the amount of nitrogen to add to the soil around the trees. We will discuss the types of fertilizer and the ones you may want to use.

Even if you do not attend the Chestnut Establishment meeting, simply meet us in the parking lot at 4:00 and we will take you to the plots and demonstrate the calculations needed for fertilizing both young and older trees. The cost is free for clients and immediate family members, and $25 for non-members and friends of members. We will also have available 50 pound bags of Higgins mix the best fertilizer mix known for Michigan’s chestnuts.

Higgins mix was devised by a former MSU Forestry professor, Norm Higgins who grew every type of chestnut imaginable in Perry, Michigan. These were probably the best chestnuts in Michigan until our modern selections were established in orchards. Mixed together he had American, Chinese, Japanese, Europeans and all of their possible hybrids. The cultivar ‘Labor Day’ a Japanese species was selected from among his trees and grafted by MSU as a precocious pollinizer that dropped nuts in early to mid-September. Norm did everything right when growing these chestnut trees except one thing–he did not believe in pruning. So, the trees at his orchard became large and then mostly non-productive. But his fertilizer, based on ammonium sulfate (which drives down the soil pH) and a balance of important micronutrients, remains an important part of our chestnut culture in Michigan.

To read about this material, click on the 2017 Chestnut Pesticide Guide (on the right hand side panel of this website).  Inside that you will find the Michigan Chestnut Management Guide 2017. Scroll down that and you will find the Nutrient Management information section. There is information regarding the fertilizers that you can use, and why you use them. Then there are tables that tell you how much fertilizer to use per tree. It also discusses the information regarding tree vigor and age or size of tree, which are also important to know. All this will be discussed at the Fertilizer Demonstration, on Thursday starting at 4:00 pm at the Clarksville Research Center. We hope to see you there!

The Higgins mix fertilizer (ammonium sulphate 21%) that is used at the station and on some of the most productive orchards will be for sale in 50 pound bags. We have a ton available. Your cost as a client of COS is listed, below. Add $3.00 per bag for non-members.

$27 for 50lb 1-4 bags 

$25.50 for 5-10 bags

$23.50 for 10-19 bags

$21.50 for 20+ bags

In the past, this has been called the Higgins Mix it is now referred to as the ammonium sulfate (21%) in the tables found in the Michigan Chestnut Management Guide (inside the 2017 Pesticide Guide); Nutrient Management section on our website. This is the best fertilizer you can buy for your chestnuts and the environment as it does so much for the trees. To get this fertilizer mixed, it takes a 3-ton minimum order, and COS has taken care of fertilizer for you. You won’t find this mix anywhere else. If you can’t make it to the fertilization demonstration on Thursday, but want to purchase some, just email us at

How do you get these orchard chestnut trees to produce an 85 pound average within 15 years?  How do you pay back the tree for such great production?  How do you get your trees in shape for the ensuing season and the ones beyond?  Fertilization.  You can’t do it without good fertilizer and a fertilizer management plan.   Dennis Fulbright at the plot, Clarksville Research Station, where Colossal trees averaged 85 pounds per tree in 2016 (some were over 100 pounds).  15-years-old trees.

Chestnut Orchard Establishment Meeting and Fertilizing demonstration—April 20th

 The first ever MSU-sponsored Chestnut Orchard Establishment meeting will be held Thursday, April 20 at the MSU Clarksville Research Center. Meet the researchers who set up the only Cost of Production tool that is available and featured on the MSU website, As you can see in the agenda, other important topics will be covered including the cultivars to plant and how to care for the orchard. We will also be covering new developments.  Again, COS team members will be making featured presentations.  You will not want to miss this meeting.
Once again, we provide our COS members the convenience to register for this meeting by clicking on the the registration page (for registration, click here). If you are thinking about establishing an orchard or have just started, we think  the Orchard Establishment meeting is a must for you. Take a look at the agenda (click here) for this meeting. A $50 fee is required, payable to Michigan State University.
Also, be aware that our first Field Trip will be held after that meeting at 4:00pm, the subject will be fertilizing your chestnut trees and a demonstration will be provided.  Field trips are always free to our members and $25.00 to non-members, just like last year.  We hope to see you at the this meeting  and/or at the field trip after this meeting on April 20.

MNPC meeting:Agenda—March 18

Midwest Nut Producers Council, Annual Meeting

March 18, 2017

9302 Portland Road

Clarksville, Michigan 48815

10:00   Welcome and introductions

Pete Ivory, MNPC President and owner of Ivory Farms

10:10   Asian chestnut gall wasp in Michigan; what we know and where we’re headed

Dr. Josh Springer and Dr. Dennis Fulbright, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Science, Michigan State University

Dr. Deb McCullough, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University

11:00   Advances in chestnut rooted cuttings

Dr. Carmen Medina-Mora and Mario Mandujano, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Science, Michigan State University

11:30   Strategies for inoculating chestnut seedlings with truffles

Dr. Gian Maria Niccolo Benucci, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Science, Michigan State University

12:00    LUNCH

1:00   Midwest Nut Producers Council business meeting

Pete Ivory, MNPC President and owner of Ivory Farms

Bill Nash, MNPC Treasurer and owner of Nash Nurseries

1:30   Chestnut production year in review

Clarksville plots Dr. Dennis Fulbright, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Michigan State University

Cooperative discussion Roger Blackwell, President of Chestnut Growers Inc. and owner of New Era Chestnuts

2:30   Open discussion period (15 minutes per topic)

               The importance of cropload estimate—Led by Ginger      Rinkel, MNPC Secretary and owner of Vicary Road Chestnut Farm and Bill Nash, MNPC Treasurer and owner of Nash Nurseries

                Using supplemental pollen—Led by Dr. Dennis Fulbright, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Michigan State University

                Hypovirulence treatment update—Dr. Josh Springer, Chestnut Orchard Solutions

               Acreage update—Led by Bill Nash, MNPC Treasurer and owner of Nash Nurseries

3:30   Food safety on the farm

Erin Lizotte, Michigan State University Extension 

4:00    Meeting wrap-up; evaluation, pesticide credits &  adjourn

Erin Lizotte, Michigan State University Extension

Registration Open for the 2017 Midwest Nut Producers Council’s Annual Meeting

This meeting is a great opportunity for new growers to network and current growers to learn about optimizing productivity.

This meeting is free to MNPC member farms who remit their $50 in dues at the door, non-members pay $20 online via the registration page. Pesticide recertification credits will be available. You may download the complete agenda and register for the event by visiting Registration closes on March 16th.


MSU Extension programs and material are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by calling Erin Lizotte at 231-944-6504 to make arrangements. Requests will be met when possible.










This website publishes the Posts and Pages of Chestnut Orchard Solutions. Our “Posts” are found right here smack in the middle of the website and you can scroll through our past Posts. Our “Pages” run in the right margin on this website and on smartphones you can find the Pages near the bottom of the website. Our Pages currently publish our Hints, Jillian Young (our chestnut community give back), our Goals and Purposes, and an article on Why Chestnuts?

We now introduce 2 new Pages. The first one is called        O–M–G. We hope we don’t have to write an O–M–G too often as this will cover things we believe are absolutely outrageously crazy in the world of chestnut. Go to O–M–G to read about our first O–M–G. Because of this O–M–G, we are stepping up our efforts to make sure Michigan growers are clear about the reasons we grow chestnuts the way we do. Therefore, below is our cure for the first and current   O–M–G, its called education.

The second of our new Pages section is called Thank You. There are always a host of people we need to thank and this is our permanent way to mark our Thanks to them. The first Thanks is about Lupe Rios who works for Forrest Keeling Nursery. He just received a major award. Go to the Thank You Page and read about Lupe Rios. And then go there often to see who we next have to Thank for their help and inspiration.

2017 Meeting Calendar Still Being Set

(as information comes in, these will be up dated)

February 1      American Chestnuts Today                                                        

Time:  7:00-9:00 pm

Location: Boardman River Nature Center,                                                 1450 South Cass Road, Traverse City

Sponsored by: Leelanau, Grand Traverse and Benzie Conservation Districts

Contact: Kama Ross;


March 18        MNPC Annual Meeting, Clarksville

Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm

Location: MSU Clarksville Research Center                                                9032 Portland Road, Clarksville

Agenda being developed

Contact: Erin Lizotte;

Registration details:

See: this website for more information as it develops


Late April       Chestnut Orchard Establishment

Date proposed sometime in the last 2 weeks of                                         April. An all day, weekday meeting held at Clarksville Research Center

Subjects to be covered:

  •    The world of commercial chestnut production in Michigan
  •    Cost of Production
  •    Orchard establishment and design
  •    Pest management and resources
  •    What does the Future hold?
  •    Harvest, storage and market


Registration details:

See: this website for more information as it develops

Contact: Erin Lizotte;