Important Tips for Growing Ozark Chinquapin
The Ozark Chinquapin has unique requirements for optimum growth. Unlike many trees Ozark Chinquapin nut puts down a taproot in the fall of the year similar to what a white oak acorn does in the fall. Because of this seed collected in the fall of the year and planted the following spring often will not germinate. You can simulate conditions in the outdoors by placing the seed in a sealable plastic bag and add moistened peat moss (damp not wet) and place it in your refrigerator's crisper.
The seed will eventually sprout a root in 2-4 months depending upon temperature (ideal temperature is between 34-42 degrees F). This method assures good seedling development. An anti-fungal agent has been added to the peat moss your seed were shipped in. However it is still important to blow air into the bag 1-2 times a week to prevent mold.
Plant the germinated nut directly in the ground (not in pots) the following spring as soon as the threat of frost has passed. The week before you plan to plant your germinated nuts, remove them from the crisper and leave the bag with germinated nuts at room temperature for approximately one week. This will allow the seedling to emerge to a length of at least 2 inches. It is critical to the survival of your tree when planting your seedlings to make sure the taproot is not in any way damaged. If it is damaged the tree will produce a shallow root system and will die when dry late summer conditions occur.
Do not water your tree after planting unless there has been no rain fall for 3-4 weeks. Watering will prevent the tree from establishing a long tap root and attaining maximum growth.
Select a planting location that is full sun and has good drainage. Rocky dry poor soil that has a slope is an ideal location. However, the trees can grow in a variety of locations as long as there is good drainage for the root system and sun. The roots cannot tolerate any standing water.
Squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and a host of other animals will attempt to pull the still attached nut from the plant if they can get to it. This will eventually cause the plant to die. For this reason a 4' tall grow tube (one source is oikostreecrops.com , 269-624-6233-Tubex tree shelter 4') is highly recommended. The grow tube will accelerate tree growth, serve as a scent barrier to rodents, and protect it from browsing deer as well. Without protection loss of newly planted seed is high.
Some insect like chinquapin leaves as well and it is a good idea to spray the leaves of your young tree with a fruit tree insecticide, especially the first year.
Under good conditions your tree will start to produce nuts in 3-5 years. Ozark Chinquapins are not self-pollinating and will need another tree to pollinate with.
Sprouted seed ready to be place in containers.
Emerging Ozark Chinquapin seedling.
Root stock showing the lengthy tap root system visible on 2005 seedling.
Jerry holding a container with a plant he successfully transplanted from southern Missouri seed.