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Cultural methods for growing American
chestnut in a Northern hardwoods/conifer forest

Peter Merritt
Spring 2006
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Project Summary
Goals
Strategies
Measurements of Success
Student Profile

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Project Summary

American chestnut was one of the most important hardwood species in the Eastern United States. Its reliable nut crop was a staple for wildlife as well as rural economies, and its timber had many uses because it was light weight, rot-resistant, and easily worked. In the early 1900 a fungal disease coined chestnut blight was introduced accidentally from Asia. By the middle of the century American chestnut was functionally eliminated from the forest. In 1983, the American chestnut Foundation was founded with a goal of breeding a blight-resistant American chestnut. The method for breeding this tree is the back-cross method with Chinese chestnut, producing almost pure American chestnut that retains only the Chinese trait for blight resistance. With some success in this field, it is time to look at how best to reintroduce American chestnut to its native range. This spring at the Jericho Research Forest, we are looking at some different cultural methods for growing chestnut in a natural forest system. These methods include different planting sites, different methods for browse protection, and growing trees from seedlings as opposed to direct seeding.

 

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Goals

The goal of this project is to evaluate some of these methods for growing American chestnut in a Northern hardwoods/conifer forest.

 

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Strategies

This spring roughly 300 chestnuts will be planted at the research forest; half as seeds and half as seedlings. We will be planting these trees in six different areas at the forest, each area being made up of a plot of 24 direct-seeded chestnut and 24 seedlings. These six “case study” plots will include a Japanese Larch plantation, a Red Pine plantation, the forest’s birch arboretum, and three other mixed hardwood/conifer areas with varying topographies and sun exposure.

The treatments implemented within each case study will include unprotected direct-seeded trees and seedlings, seeds protected with tin cans, and trees protected with two different widths of 4 ft. vented tree protectors.

The treatment to each case study has been to remove all under story brush. The trees will be planted without any soil amendments.

 

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Measurements of Success

Success for this project will be properly telling its story so that any information gained can be used to aid future reintroduction projects. Telling the story will include a detailed record of the planning process, planting process, and monitoring of the American chestnut case studies.

 

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Student Profile

Peter is a sophmore at UVM with a major in Ecological Agriculture.

 

 

Last modified April 19 2007 06:53 PM

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