A blight resistance gene (oxalate oxidase) has been added by state university researchers in new york. The genetically modified trees are being crossed with pure-bred chestnuts for improved genetic diversity before wider distribution.
The plan is to distribute seeds from these trees within 5 years through a partnership between SUNY-ESF and the NY chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.
I've committed to planting at least 4500 of these trees (interspersed across 60+ acres) in their native forest setting once available. If you care about the chestnut or ecology but agroforestry isn't your thing, these organizations could really use donations to ensure this project continues.
My parents are also doing this on their property, it is exciting, and I hope this new breed is resistant to the fungus.
Of course the proof is a forest of full grown trees, but there's every reason to expect this method will get us there.
They designed a brand new type of testing for resistance to be able to make the progress they've made as quickly as they have. Instead of testing a whole tree they can effectively test blight resistance on a single leaf, allowing their time between generations to be measured in weeks rather than years. (Time to first leaf, rather than time to whole tree).
I am very excited. What was strange is that in order to accept the trees, you had to agree to an entire set of restrictions. You can not sell any nuts was one; another was you must cut down the tree if you ever sell your property, I suppose there is an exception if the new owner also signs onto to the agreement. Seemed a little awkward, but still worth it.
Where specifically should we donate? Can we donate labor as well?
And an honorable mention to black cherry, a tree of the region with edible fruit.
I doubt that is true anymore. Maybe 1/3?