[Ok-sus] Fwd: An Oklahoma Chestnut

Bob Waldrop bob at bobwaldrop.net
Mon Feb 17 15:06:09 UTC 2014


I have been contacted by a Lincoln County farmer who will have cultivars 
of chestnut trees available for sale this spring.  Below is his story 
and contact info.  If you are interested, I encourage you to contact him.

Bob Waldrop, OKC


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	An Oklahoma Chestnut
Date: 	Sun, 16 Feb 2014 20:41:37 -0800 (PST)
From: 	Steve Lucas <sflranchok at yahoo.com>
Reply-To: 	Steve Lucas <sflranchok at yahoo.com>
To: 	bwaldrop1952 at att.net <bwaldrop1952 at att.net>



Bob,

Let me share some of our background. Jean and I have been involved in 
Lincoln County hay and cattle production since 1991, but back in 2007 
felt we needed to go in another direction, one which is less dependent 
on questionable chemicals and rapidly escalating input costs. Also, we 
were determined to find something non-native to Oklahoma, which can 
benefit the health of both humans and wildlife, while being compatible 
with our expansive weather and less than ideal soil conditions. Ideally, 
something manageable and can benefit future generations.

Over the next several years we researched a variety of agricultural 
products, mostly in the fruit and nut category. I must admit, have been 
raised in western New York, I miss the tasty fruit and nuts available 
June - November. Unfortunately, our Oklahoma soil conditions are not 
acidic enough, for some fruit such as blueberries or strawberries. And 
ironically, the one low level fruit that seems to do well, blackberry, 
most folks are more interested in killing than promoting it. Also, it 
can be quite labor intensive. As a child I enjoyed tapping sugar from 
maple trees, we decided to plant 300 bare root sugar maple trees in 
Spring 2008.  We were very encouraged, that is, for about 60 days. After 
30 days of leaves budding and developing, we thought we were at the 
start of something special. Then reality hit: by August 15, 2008 we were 
down to 3 trees, in fact only one survived into Summer 2009. The reason 
for the failure: our lengthy, extremely hot sun rays in Oklahoma were 
literally frying the tender leaves on the branches.

Next, in Spring 2009, we planted more fruit trees you normally find in 
Oklahoma. These included different varieties of peaches, pears, plums, 
nectarines, even cherries. And yes, we planted a row of blackberries, 
minus the thorns. As you might expect, these all did okay, except for 
the cherries, which are now gone. Though not what we desired, at least 
we had the beginnings of an orchard. And yet, we still could not shake 
the desire to find new products.

In the Spring 2010 we added another 50 apple trees, 6 different 
varieties. However, 2010 was more about searching for the long term 
solution. Via the internet we searched, both domestically and globally, 
for something which was healthy for human and wildlife, had an 
established and growing market and most importantly, was genetically 
capable of adapting to Oklahoma's extreme weather environment. So during 
that summer we visited 4 of the larger Chestnut orchards throughout the 
United States, from Connecticut, to Florida, Ohio, and finally 
Missouri.  We saw how each ownership group, though very different in 
approach, was successful in producing Chestnuts.  However none of these 
growers had dealt with the weather we face in Oklahoma.

The last trip in 2010 was to University of Missouri's research farm in 
New Franklin, MO and a nearby nursery which sold Chestnut cultivars. We 
returned to Lincoln County, Oklahoma with 600 two year old trees, 
representing 20 cultivars. Most importantly we had instructions for 
proper planting and care. By November 1, 2010 all were planted in the 
orchard. And our orchard's soil is representative of much of Oklahoma, 
some sandy loam, some rocky, some clay.

Do you remember what happened in the summers of 2011 and 2012? Oklahoma 
recorded scorching temperatures and nary a drop of precipitation. And 
our orchard was not irrigated. These conditions proved ideal for 
disaster. Though we followed the step by step care instructions from the 
Nursery, it did not matter, 80% died within the first 20 months. It was 
the lowest of times. But yet, 20% SURVIVED! So each year we continue to 
add more trees of the successful cultivars and test new Species, such as 
those identified during a 20 day trip to China. Though not permitted to 
import propagation material from China, we were blessed to find the 
genetic makeup of those growing in China in comparable conditions as 
Oklahoma. And these genetics were then found in Chestnut Species 
imported nearly 100 years ago to America and scattered throughout the 
country, before the ban.

Fast forward to today. On March 1st, we will make available for sale 
both potted and bare root (currently in sand beds) seedlings on a first 
come, first serve basis. While it is still unknown how many may have 
perished this severe winter, we anticipate 1,000 - 1,300 seedlings 
available. Also, we have begun the propagation process for another 3,000 
seedlings which may be available as early as October, 2014.

Sometimes it is difficult to believe that such a non-native Species can 
grow and flourish in Oklahoma. So I have attached pictures of a four 
year old tree (seedling planted Fall 2011) and a 5 year old tree 
seedling planted Fall 2010). This past year we harvested nuts from 72 
trees, aged 3 years - 5 years. Lord willing, this number will increase 
significantly in Fall 2014. Also attached are pictures of the two year 
old potted and bare root seedlings.

Thanks for the opportunity to share a little bit about our story. We 
hope that you will find something which can complement your food plot. 
If this is the first time some of your followers have heard of Chinese 
Chestnuts, let me encourage them to search the internet for more info 
about this nut. It is considered by many nutritionists to be the 
healthiest and tastiest nut available, even contains vitamin C.  In the 
Asian culture, it is the number two item consumed. For those from 
Eastern, Southern and Western Europe, it is often consumed as a snack or 
as an ingredient in main course meals. The last attachment includes some 
of my favorite recipies.

So, if you or your friends have a need for Oklahoma tested varieties of 
Chinese Chestnut seedlings (or nuts in the Fall), please let us know.

Steve & Jean Lucas

Steve Lucas, M.S.M.
An Oklahoma Chestnut
405-328-0186


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