Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) is a deciduous tree that produces edible nuts in September and October. This is a different species from the American chestnut that was decimated last century by a fungal canker blight that essentially eliminated it from the eastern U.S. forests. In Iowa Chinese chestnuts are grown more frequently in the southern half of the state.
Seeds germinate fast when the soil is already nice and warm, which makes late summer a good time to rejuvenate lawns and plant fall vegetable crops of spinach, lettuce, peas and kale. Or plant a new tree.
Several species of fruits can be grown successfully in Iowa for home use or commercial sales. However, because of our winter temperatures and local soil conditions, not all fruits or fruit cultivars (cultivated varieties) are adapted to all areas of the state. What works well?
Nuts produced by trees and shrubs in short supply after killing frost last May. Birds including bluejays, ducks and wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, fox squirrels and many other creatures rely on hard mast from trees and shrubs to build up energy reserves for long winter days or fuel their migration to warmer climates.
If you have trees on your acreage and are thinking of some selective harvest, this article has information on the process, including how harvesters value trees.
This article is part of a series in perennial crops for an acreage and is reprinted with permission from Trees Forever. The entire guide features landowners interviewed to solicit feedback on their management practices, producution data, pricing information, critical issues to success and some tips for others that might be interested in getting started with a perennial crop.
Chestnuts are an agroforestry option for small acreages. Learn how one Iowa producer got started in chestnuts and what production practices worked well for him.