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Recent entries

Kevin Hahn

Food Plotting

Dunstan Chestnut Trees

Mon, April 07, 2014

My interest in chestnuts started a few years back when I read about a how deer were really attracted to chestnuts— evidently deer prefer chestnuts over acorns according to some who have producing trees,  so I knew I had to get some for our farm to try them.  If you ask me if deer are truly more attracted to chestnuts, I will tell that I hope so but I have not yet formed an opinion on that for I am still waiting for my chestnut trees to produce their first crop.  I would also tell you that many deer hunters are truly attracted to Dunstan chestnut trees and when these trees become available for sale in the spring each year, it’s not very long before they are sold out. 

I bought my first Dunstan chestnut trees in 2011 as bare root trees directly from the nursery in Florida.  Then in 2012, the nursery started selling potted trees through select Walmart stores.  News travels fast via the internet world and there were many reports of these potted trees that were being sold at Walmart stores were larger and slightly cheaper than the bare rooted trees.  In 2012, I think the only Illinois Walmart store that sold Dunstan chestnut trees was the store in Marion, IL.  One spring day in 2012 I was in the Marion area (less than an hour away) so I decided to drive to this Walmart and try to purchase some trees.  When I arrived they were sold out. In fact the sales clerk informed me they sold out the first day.

Fast forward to 2013.  
I got word that Farm King Store locations in Western Illinois would be getting a shipment of potted Dunstan chestnuts from a nursery in Florida.  Not trusting that supplies would last until my arrival, I called the manager at the Macomb, IL Farm King Store and was able to convince him to hold 5 trees for me—at that time the trees had not even arrived.  The manager called when the trees arrived and the next day I drove to the store to pick them up.  When I got to the store, they were completely sold out of the chestnut trees except for the 5 trees they held for me.  As I said before, many deer hunters are highly attracted to Dunstan chestnut trees. As a side benefit, deer hunters may be helping to restore the chestnut tree in many parts of the United States.

My prized potted Dunstan chestnuts trees from 2013

So Why Dunstan Chestnut Trees
The once widespread and plentiful American chestnut was wiped out in the US during the early 1900’s due to a chestnut fungal blight which was most likely introduced with imported Japanese chestnut trees.  However, in the early 1950’s a single American chestnut tree was found alive and healthy amongst a grove of dead chestnut trees in Ohio.  Dr. Robert Dunstan took scion wood from this single living tree with natural resistance to the chestnut blight and eventually developed what is now known as the Dunstan chestnut. 
For more information about Dunstan chestnuts, follow this link:

Illinois Stores that will have Potted Dunstan Chestnut Trees in 2014
The following are Illinois stores (listed below) that will have potted Dunstan chestnut trees in 2014.  The website states that the trees will arrive by May 5, 2014.  I tried calling the nursery today to get more specific information about shipping dates but only got voice mail.  If history repeats itself, the safe bet is that the trees will sell out quickly so I would make calls to the stores to get specific information about actual arrival dates. 

For a complete listing of stores, including surrounding states that will carry Dunstan chestnut trees, follow the link below.






I have planted different varieties of chinese chestnuts for 20 years or so. I can tell yo when te deer and turkey are done eating there is a bare circle of dirt under each tree. Be careful to cage your trees. Tey have very thin bark and deer rubbing on them will kill them back to the roots. THey like well drained soil with a low ph.

Posted by prairieforester on April 08

I will be buying some of these and thanks for the information. I know an old hermit down in the Vandalia area who claimed to know where three American chestnuts were. Around five years ago he took me to them all…which are on private ground. All three trees bear and are very healthy. When we were in town together we looked up the man who planted them 70 plus years ago. He said they came from southeastern Indiana and were spared the fate of the others because of their fringe location to the smokey mountains. I have picked up a few hundred and planted…but the rodents are terrible in taking the nuts up through springtime. I have managed to keep a half dozen alive. The history of the American Chestnut is indeed fascinating

Posted by jedro on April 08

I found a couple mature chestnut trees in my town last year. I collected approx 40 nice, mature nuts and put them in a plastic bag with straw, punched holes in the straw to allow moisture to escape, and put them in my fridge last fall. This spring I put them in separate pots with good, black soil and every nut sprouted and i now have trees about 2’ tall. I might add that I bored several holes in the sides of the pots, and cut the bottoms out so the roots would get surrounding moisture and could grow. In early Oct i cut away the plastic pots and put the trees in the ground and so-far, so-good…appears all will make it. Not sure what to do next except watch them grow? I also have more nuts in the fridge from this years crop and will do the same next year. I have no idea if the parent trees are “all-american” or not, but the trees appear to be aboult 50-60 yrs old.

Posted by jimbo on October 12

I purchased 4 from the farm king in Kewanne Illinois. Spring 2014. It was a preorder deal there. They took my order before they ordered so check early spring for ordering info. Caged them off with old wooden snow fence. Gonna put 4 or 5 more in a different area 2015.

Posted by D.Douglas on November 10

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