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.