All posts by Dennis Fulbright

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.

COS More Than Halfway Through Record Harvest

It’s been a nearly perfect chestnut growing season from winter to spring to summer and now fall. COS team members are out in southwest Michigan, central regions and northwest regions machine and hand-harvesting chestnuts.  The increased harvest from 2015 to 2016 represents several aspects of the trees: After the easy winter of 2015/16, the trees are repairing damage after the two difficult winters of 2013/14 and 2014/15; a lack of any spring frost in the state, the warm and dry conditions during pollination, just enough rain at the appropriate times, and grower interest in the developing chestnut industry in Michigan.  While Michigan’s overall yields never decreased over the past 3 years, they did not increase proportionally to the age of the trees in the last two seasons. This year is a different story. In 2016, it seems the yield has caught up with the age of the trees.  Most chestnut trees are producing well. Orchards that had produced 12,000 to 15,000 pounds are producing over 20,000 pounds or more in 2016.

So far, halfway through the harvest, the COS team has harvested about 40,000 pounds of nuts representing several orchards.  We will continue to work hard until the harvest season is over.  An interesting event is happening with harvest this year.  It seems like most of the burs are open and nuts have dropped, but there are still many burs on the trees that have not opened yet and the second half of the harvest season will see these nuts drop.  Probably Michigan, taken as whole, will see more than 100 tons of chestnuts for the first time.

nuts-and-burs-in-an-orchard-with-30000-poundsChestnuts and burs on the ground in a Michigan orchard. This orchard is producing well over 30,000 pounds from ‘Colossal’ chestnut trees planted in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Dr. Josh Springer, COS president harvesting nuts on the FACMA-built Cimini 180, self-propelled harvester.


carmen-on-harvesterDr. Carmen Medina, first woman operator of the FACMA self-propelled harvester in North America.


harvester-trailHarvester trail through orchard.


Chestnut Trees from Forest Keeling Nursery

Chestnut Trees Will Be Available Friday, September 16

COS Will Again Help FKN with Orders

September 17th Field Trip Canceled


The plan to hold a field trip at the Clarksville Research Center (CRC) has been canceled due to the early arrival of the Forrest Keeling Nursery (FKN) grafted chestnut trees. Chestnut Orchard Solutions (COS) board members met with FKN in August to help secure the early arrival of the FKN-grafted chestnut trees for Friday, September 16, beginning at noon. This early arrival will benefit the chestnut industry in Michigan since nut harvest for many chestnut growers will be extra-large this year. The more separation between tree arrival and harvest will provide more time for both planting and harvesting. The venue for chestnut tree pick up will be the same as last year: COS member Carmen Medina of COS will be at the MSU Clarksville Research Center, 9302 Portland Road, Clarksville, MI. The orders will be arranged by grower. There is a chance that some extra trees will be available and growers may pay for and take home extra trees until they run out. Orders will be distributed continuously from noon Friday, Sept. 16th to 4:00 pm Sunday, Sept. 18th. After that, please call Carmen at 616-666-2004 to schedule your pick up.

Hours for pick up—

Friday, Sept. 16th, noon to 5:00

Saturday, Sept. 17th, 8:00 to 5:00

Sunday, Sept. 18th, 10:00 to 4:00

After this, call Carmen to make arrangements for pick up at 616-666-2004.


COS will play a major role in distributing the trees at the CRC. If you want to have your trees delivered by truck to your farm, COS can deliver the trees to your orchard. Contact us so we can get you on our growing deliveries list! We can also provide planting assistance! Call 517.643.2875 or email for more information.


photo 1File photo of 2015 Forrest Keeling Nursery chestnut tree disbursement at Clarksville.

photo 2Lupe Rios of Forrest Keeling Nursery showing off the large number of fibrous roots on this chestnut tree in August 2016. This tree and about 4,800 others (behind Lupe) will be arriving at the Clarksville Research Center on September 16th, 2016.

photo 3Lupe stands by the tagged and ready-for-a-ride chestnut trees coming to Michigan. If planted in the right locations and properly cared for, the 2016 tree order alone will be producing about 150,000 pounds of chestnuts in 10 to 12 years.


 COS Will harvest Your Chestnuts (no, not for free)

Chestnut Orchard Solutions wants you to enjoy Autumn and all the activities associated with the fall season. Need help or want COS to harvest your chestnuts? We can do that and we will choose between hand or machine harvesting. Simply fill out the enclosed form and submit as soon as possible for a fun and enjoyable fall season. Of course, some people think chestnut harvest is fun, at least once. Let us do it for you. (Click on Chestnut Harvest 2016 for details).

photo 4Photo credit Kraig Ehm, MSU

Some chestnut orchards in Michigan require mechanical harvest as this machine (above) can harvest almost 4 tons of chestnuts in one day. If you don’t require the mechanical harvester, we can still pick them up with the Nut Wizard (below).

Harvesting chestnuts manually using NutWhizard




Field Trip to New Era Chestnut Enlightening


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.

IMG_0352Made 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.

IMG_0340 FullSizeRender-4

COS thanks our client Roger Blackwell and Doug June for allowing us to showcase their orchard for a delightful afternoon.

Fourth Chestnut Orchard Visit led by COS

Mark your calendar….Fourth COS field trip, July 9th.

On Saturday, July 9 at 1pm Chestnut Orchard Solutions (COS) will hold the next field trip and orchard visit to an orchard near New Era, Michigan.

This highly productive orchard, one of the best in the state right now, will be highlighted on many levels where we will discuss the  things that have been learned to help you plan, plant, and maintain your own orchards! We will also highlight the efficacy of the biological control for chestnut blight and how well it works! We will also have a demonstration of how chestnut blight is treated. Attendees will see mature trees, recently planted trees, along with trees in the midst of pollination time. Come ready to ask questions and discuss!

Please RSVP if you haven’t already so we can plan accordingly.

The address for New Era Chestnuts, LLC is 6998 S. 44th Ave., Montague, Michigan 49437. There is no official address marked on the property, but this should get anyone using google maps to the driveway that leads into the property. The driveway is narrow and somewhat hidden among trees. Please park near the storage shed to the left of the driveway.

If traveling on US 31 either north or south to the Chestnut Orchard, take Exit 136 on Winston Rd and travel west on Winston Road. Turn left (north) at stop sign which is 56th Avenue. Travel to West Wilkie Rd. and turn left (West) and follow road to next stop sign to South 48 Avenue and turn slight right on West Wilkie Road. Continue traveling on to next intersection at curve in road which is S. 44th Avenueand turn right. Continue on gravel road north 300 feet, the driveway to the New Era Chestnut orchard is on your right.

Third Field Trip led by COS

Mark your calendar- June 25, Third Field Trip!

What will we see? A nearly 3 acre site that was previously a forest of non-native trees that has been removed to be planted with a chestnut orchard. You’ll see the result of hard work to remove the trees, prep the land, plant the chestnuts, and protect them so they succeed in the future. Irrigation is in the midst of being installed as is electricity. Come prepared to ask questions and discuss how to establish a chestnut orchard.

Meet at 1pm at the Meijer in Birch Run, Michigan (I-75 exit 136) 9515 Birch Run Road at the south side of the building near the greenhouse. From there trip participants can carpool or caravan to the orchard (about 5 miles east).


Snacks and water will be provided.

Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.

Second COS field trip—June 11

The next COS field trip June 11—Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp (ACGW) infestation will be the subject of our upcoming field trip.

Meeting time will be held starting at 1:00 pm at the Michigan State University Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center in Benton Harbor, Michigan.  We will meet in the auditorium at the main administration building where restroom facilities are located. The meeting will cover the life cycle of the pest, the biological controls, and how the various cultivars will probably react to the infestation.  See below for directions to the Research Center.

Then about 2:00, we will head to the chestnut plots where we will see first hand the last 2 years infestations and the brand new galls just now developing. The meeting should be over at about 3:00.

Snacks and water will be available.

As usual, clients and their immediate family will be admitted to this field trip free of charge. Non-clients will be assessed a fee of $25.

This field trip will be led by Dennis Fulbright and Josh Springer.


Leaf distortion and gall formation caused by Asian chestnut gall wasp on chestnut. Photo provided by Dennis Fulbright.
Leaf distortion and gall formation caused by Asian chestnut gall wasp on chestnut. Photo provided by Dennis Fulbright.


Directions: navigate to this address, 1791 Hillandale Road
Benton Harbor, MI 49022.  Turn into the driveway, go to the first building to the right.

First COS Field Trip A Success——Preparations Underway For 2nd Field Trip —June 11—To See Gall Wasp

Participants in COS’s first field trip for 2016 are not deterred by the unseasonable weather and strike out across the field to view other parts of the Jackson-based Alan Brent orchard.


Nearly all of the cultivars made it through the fall planting which took place before the 2014/15 record breaking Michigan frigid winter.  Now beginning to break bud after the relatively mild 2015/16 winter, most of the young trees are growing from the terminal buds and have missed the potential of a mid-May frost.   The future appears bright for the 2016 growing season.




Mark your calendar!  Next COS’s field trip, June 11—Benton Harbor, Michigan. Topic to be discussed: Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp. Details on this trip will be posted by June 1. 

Leaf distortion and gall formation caused by Asian chestnut gall wasp on chestnut. Photo provided by Dennis Fulbright.
Leaf distortion and gall formation caused by Asian chestnut gall wasp on chestnut. Photo provided by Dennis Fulbright.

Orchard Visit led by COS

Chestnut Orchard Visit, May 14 at 1pm—Mark your calendar!

Join Chestnut Orchard Solutions team when we visit the orchard of Alan Brent in Jackson, Michigan.  Details of the field trip are found by clicking Scheduled Field Trips—2016 (left side bar).

Spring is here and Michigan’s flora and fauna provide evidence of the season.  Alan Brent’s chestnuts trees are beginning to break bud and their story is one that every grower or potential grower needs to hear.  The COS team is working hard to provide field trips throughout the summer  that the support our mission of  establishing orchards with the right trees,  the right cultivars, from the right nursery,  established the right way.   Nothing is ever perfect, but Alan Brent’s young orchard may be as close as you can come.

Beautiful spring day at Alan Brent’s chestnut orchard near Jackson, Michigan.
Robin nest and eggs in a  chestnut tree, an example of your orchard’s integration with nature

Details of the field trip are found by clicking Scheduled Field Trips—2016 (left side bar).

COS team members expected at the field trip May 14:  Josh Springer, Carmen Medina and Dennis Fulbright

Scheduled Field Trips—2017

Chestnut Orchard Solutions has scheduled field trips to observe various aspects of chestnut orchard development during this upcoming growing season.

Please continue checking this schedule as more field trips will be added below.

The cost for these orchard visits will be $25 per person unless you are a current client of Chestnut Orchard Solutions. If a current client (consulting membership or more), your access to these field trips for 2017 is free.

We will provide addresses of where to meet and perhaps some other navigation instructions, but we are expecting you to find your way via a navigation device. If you need help please call the number associated with that particular field trip below. This information will be available as we get closer to the date of the event.

April 20, 4:00 pm Fertilizing the orchard (Demonstration)

Meet at MSU-Clarskville Research Center, 9302 Portland Road, Clarksville, Michigan .  This field trip will be held after the Chestnut Orchard Establishment Meeting.  Meet at lobby before heading out to the chestnut plot.


June 4, Benton Harbor: Asian Chestnut Gall Wasp