Seed Storage and Germination
Ozark Chinquapin have unique requirements for optimum growth. Nuts collected in the fall must undergo several months of cold storage. Place the seed in a sealable plastic bag and add moistened peat moss—the peat moss should remain moist but not wet. We add an anti-fungal agent to the peat moss to prevent mold but it’s important to ventilate the seed about once a week by blowing air into the bag and very carefully tumble the seed to rearrange their position in the bag. Store the bag of seed in the crisper of your refrigerator between 35-40 degrees F.
Between January and March the seed will develop a root, about 1 to 4 inches long, depending upon temperature. This method assures good seedling development.
Select a planting location that is sunny and has well drained soil. Rocky or sandy soils on 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 full to partial sun.
The roots cannot tolerate any standing water. A good test is to pour a quart container onto the intended location to see how quickly the water will disappear. If the water disappears into the ground in less than a minute the site is suitable. Avoid locations near standing water or where water stands after a heavy rain.
When to plant: Plant your seed the following spring as soon as the threat of frost has passed.
At this point (planting time), your seed should have a tap root. It’s critical that the tap root is not damaged in any way during seed storage or planting. If it becomes damaged the tree will produce a shallow root system and die when dry late summer conditions occur.
Plant the germinated nut directly in the ground with the tap root pointed down, do not worry about the orientation of the nut. When you plant the seed, make a pilot hole deep enough to gently fit the entire length of the taproot and seed into the ground about 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the surface, then fill up the pilot hole with sandy soil to cover the root and nut. Then immediately place a grow tube on the nut (see the next section on Protecting the Seed), this step is critical.
Water your tree weekly after planting unless there has been rain. You will need to allow water to deeply moisten the ground below the germinated seed to establishing a long tap root and attaining maximum growth.
To prevent root rot, do not use any mulch or organic material when planting.
We do not recommend planting into pots.
Picture above: Planting an Ozark chinquapin with a long tap root. When you pant the seed, make a pilot hole deep enough to gently fit the entire length of the taproot and seed into the ground about 1/2 inch to 1 inch from the ground, then fill up the pilot hole with sandy soil to cover the root and nut.
Protecting the Seed From Animal Predation
It’s very important to place a 4 FT tall grow tube on the nut immediately after planting to prevent animals from getting the nut (and killing the plant). 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.
You can get 4 foot grow tubes at Forestry Suppliers https://goo.gl/T1bJuP , order by phone 1-800-647-5368; ask for Tubex 4 foot tree shelter. We recommend using rebar stakes to secure the grow tube, as opposed to a stake made of wood. It’s important to sink the rebar stake about an inch below the grow tube so that when the tree grows out of the tube it is not whipping against the metal rebar stake in the wind, potentially damaging the tree.
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.