COS Field Trip to Chestnut Orchard in New Era, Michigan
On July 9th, the Chestnut Orchard Solutions field trip to the New Era Chestnuts orchard of Roger Blackwell and Doug June showed off the superior trees that orchard founder, the late Don Welling planted. We emphasized that the orchard was heading down hill as Don had not done too much to help the trees. This orchard was established without irrigation and some of the trees really struggled when they were younger. About 250 trees planted in 2000, 2002 and again in 2004 dominate the location.
Made up primarily of Colossal and Nevada, this is the last orchard in the state where the winter-sensitive Nevada still does the majority of the pollinizing. Planting Nevada today is not suggested or encouraged, but it worked at this location. Roger and Doug also have a Fraser fir plantation that they care for. Overall, Roger and Doug had to begin a serious campaign of fertilizing, pest control and pruning. Because of the earlier use of Sevin insecticide, they began using dormant oils to get control of the mites that had built up. Then the leaf hopper and Japanese beetle problems arrived, but all this is now managed with general management plan.
New plantings from Forrest Keeling starting in 2012 are located between the Fraser fir and the older Colossal trees. The trees are now under irrigation.
We discussed the yields and the amount of return they have received each year. The orchard looked fantastic and Josh Springer showed the prowess of his chestnut blight management in the orchard. Rarely do any trees die of blight anymore.
COS thanks our client Roger Blackwell and Doug June for allowing us to showcase their orchard for a delightful afternoon.