Planting orchards of Dunstan Chestnuts are a great way to attract deer and other wildlife to your property. However, you can also take advantage of the fruits of your labor more directly, by harvesting some of the chestnuts for your consumption. Here are a few tips for harvesting your Dunstan Chestnuts.
When – Dunstan Chestnuts ripen and drop in early September in the deep South, and in mid-September in central states and October in northern states. Harvest typically lasts 4-6 weeks depending on variety and climate. In warmer climates, harvest nuts daily, if possible, to lower desiccation and spoilage of the nuts in the field. In northern areas, you can harvest nuts less frequently.
However, you’ll want to harvest your share as soon as they drop, or risk losing them to wildlife. Just be sure to leave enough for the wildlife as well. While competition from wildlife is a bane to commercial orchardists, it can be a boom for private landowners who are also interested in attracting and feeding wildlife.
How – Traditional harvest is done by hand, wearing heavy gloves to protect you from the nut’s spiny husks, called burrs. In commercial orchards, pickers are often paid by the pound or by the bucket as an incentive to work quickly and to control costs. Some growers offer this as a fund-raiser to schools or church groups. Private landowners may want to make it a weekend social event, letting friends, family and/or neighbors share in the work and the bounty.
Handling – Once the nuts are separated from their burrs, wash them in a water bath of hot water (122F) for 30 minutes, then cool to 32-35F in a cooler. This kills weevil eggs before they hatch. Nuts with worms (young weevils) float to the surface and should be removed and destroyed. Pack the sound nuts in a breathable container to allow for desiccation, store under refrigeration and rotate bags regularly to prevent mold. Nuts stored this way should last 2-3 months.
Chestnut Hill Outdoors is more than just a nursery. To ensure you receive the maximum benefit from their products, they also provide sound advice and instruction on proper planting and care. For more on Chestnut Hill Outdoors products and how to care for them, visit ChestnutHillOutdoors.com, or call (855) 386-7826.
Chestnut Hill is the best place for you to purchase your food plot and deer attractant plants because they offer a large selection, their plants are specifically bred to attract deer, and they offer customers different sized plants at different levels of growth.
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