Fertilizing chestnut tree

Asked June 11, 2020, 9:13 AM EDT

Last year I had a question about chestnut trees on the field only bore only 20 fruits from 3 trees. (Previous year they bore more than 300, the 2nd year those trees started bearing fruit). You told me they might be bi-yearly fruit trees. I saw those trees have started flowering now. My question is any fertilizer could help the improvement of fruit bearing? And it there is fertilizer how to apply it? Looking forward to seeing your answer again. Thanks.

Oakland County Michigan

5 Responses

Hi There

Chestnut trees do require a little fertilizer in spring and we base it on trunk diameter and last years growth as trees mature, but when they are really little we just use a small rate developed for apple trees. I have attached the Michigan Chestnut Management Guide which includes nutrient management info starting on page 4.

The easiest way to apply it is in a granular form--you can weight out the material and put it in a measuring cup and mark the line or whatever is easiest for you. You should spread it around the base of the tree using the canopy diameter as a rough guide to estimate where the roots are. You will want to apply that now, and water it in (either with a sprinkler or apply it just ahead of a rain shower if possible--slow water is best). Typically we try to get our fertilizer on in May so it's available when the tree wakes up for the season. I would not recommend applying it after June--this tends to keep the trees awake too late into fall and they can become winter damaged.

For more management information on chestnuts, be sure to visit www.chestnuts.msu.edu and sign up to receive our newsletter.

Thanks for your response.
1. After reading your response I got "Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed" to control insect. Is this the right one?
2. Some where in reading I came across about leave curing up meaning insect invasion. Do you think I have this problem on my chestnut trees (attached pictures)? Right now there're only few leaves showing this symptom.
Looking forward to seeing your response soon again. Thanks.

Hi There, 'Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed' can not be used on trees grown for food and contains not just fertilizer but insecticide too. You can just pick up a simple fertilizer like miracle grow or those commonly called 'all purpose'' granular fertilizers. Again--you will want to refer to the table in the management guide to determine rate for the trees.

Potato leafhopper can cause leaf cupping, but if that is the cause you will see browning on leaf margins. Drought/heat stress can also cause what growers call 'boating' which is a leaf cupping that is thought to help a tree slow transpiration.

This is a different issue about apple. There're 12 apple trees in our field. Some of them are normal and look healthy. However most of them bear fruits every other years. (Last year were lots of apples but this year barely did I see flowers blossom. Attached pics showing these 3 trees in group have yellow dots on their leaves. What's wrong with them and how to treat them. Is any way I can make them bear fruits every year (with reasonable amount)?

There are several cultural reasons that a tree may not produce fruit reliably. Overfertilization, frost damage, incorrect pruning, and poor pollination rates all occur in the garden or small orchard. The article below outlines some cultural practices that can reduce yields.

Plant disease can also reduce yield. The lesions on the tree may be one of the types of rust diseases that infect apple. Do you happen to know the variety of apple? They have varying susceptibility to rust disease. Effects are tolerable on the more resistant varieties. The rusts that infect apple and its relatives have a secondary host, eastern red cedar, to complete their life cycle. Ensuring there are no nearby eastern red cedar may reduce infection.