May 10, 2018

Hybrid Apple, Oak and Chestnut Trees for Wisconsin 

By Steve Jordan 

In 2015 I wrote an article on the Deer Candy Apple Tree. Bob Wolfwrath from Wolfrath's Nursery in Hortonville, Wis. gave me quite an education on the science of apple trees. Wolfrath has been a great steward of his land and has been helping others on their land for more than 50 years. 

I will recap some of the important traits of the Deer Candy Apple Tree. This tree starts out mainly with crab apple tree root stocks. These root systems are deep and wide, thus adding stability to the tree and also enabling the tree to grab and utilize more moisture and nutrients than a normal apple tree. This is the mother tree. Different apple varieties are grafted onto this tree at a young age. Now you have a healthy, fast-growing tree that can have several varieties of apples that fall at a different time throughout the fall and winter. 

Many apple trees you purchase today will only bear fruit every other year. The Deer Candy Apple Tree will bear fruit every year. A 5- to 7-foot Candy Apple Tree will usually bear fruit the same year as planted. These trees will live for many years. These are not dwarf apple trees with a short life span. 

Most of these varieties are from a virus-free stock which pays off in the future for your tree's survival, especially in stressed years. Some very large trees are available for some landowners that want an instant fruit drop. These trees are spaded out with the root systems wrapped in wire and can weigh more than 300 pounds. The Deer Candy Apple Tree will thrive in the northern climates while other varieties die or don't produce in such a harsh environment.  

Oak and Chestnut Express 

So much for the recap on the apple trees. Now let's get into the hybrid oaks and the hybrid chestnuts. On the average, an oak tree will take 25 to 40 years to produce acorns, depending on their environment. But hybrid oaks can produce acorns in two to five years! How is this possible? 

Similar to the Deer Candy Apple Tree, with the oak you start out with a strong stout mother tree. The swamp oak, for example, is very strong, fast-growing and can grow in many climates and conditions. 

The swamp oak acorns are fairly desirable for deer. Have you noticed that some acorns in the woods are walked over by deer to get to the acorns that are laying under a certain tree? The white oak acorns are generally preferred over others. Of the white oak trees, some are more palatable than others. By taking the swamp oak mother tree and crossbreeding it with the more palatable white oak and then grafting on some of those branches, you have a fast-growing hybrid with very tasty acorns. Remember, this tree can bear in just two to five years. 

The chestnut trees are very popular for attracting deer, especially in the southern states. It is hard to find chestnut trees that are hardy for Wisconsin. Most chestnut trees in Wisconsin will pick up a chestnut blight. Now if you start out with a well-producing mother tree with outstanding characteristics for northern climates, and graft on a highly palatable chestnut variety, you can produce chestnuts in three to five years without the chestnut blight. An average chestnut tree does not produce chestnuts for 10 to 15 years, so this hybrid tree will grow and produce much faster. 

You can purchase these trees from three to eight feet in height depending on variety. You can get five of these trees for under $150. It is recommended – whether it’s apple, oak or chestnut – to plant like-varieties close to each other for a more uniform germination. 

It is important to buy trees that have been tested in the northern climates. The trees at Wolfrath's Nursery have been tested extensively over the last 40 years. 

For 2018 I plan on planting at least two groupings of Wisconsin hybrid chestnuts and two groupings of Wisconsin hybrid oaks. I already have a beautiful apple orchard and numerous Deer Candy Apple Trees. If the oaks and chestnuts do well, I will be planting many more. 

Happy tree planting! 

 

Steve Jordan's passion is planting food plots for wildlife. He likes to help others with their food plots and enjoys training them on how to attract wildlife to their properties. Steve and his wife, Kim, both enjoy hunting a variety of game on their own property near New London and sharing their love of the outdoors with their grandsons. They also go to Colorado each fall to hunt elk or mule deer, and can help you book a hunt of a lifetime with this outfitter. 

Steve recently received two awards from the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. One was the 2017 Outdoor Writer of the Year Award, while the other was the 2017 Land Stewardship Award. If you have questions on food plots, contact Steve or Kim at skjordan1010@gmail.com.