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Good news! this article understates the current stage of development for at least one of the reintroduction projects.

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. http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/

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.

How do I commit to planting some of these trees? And what climates can they grow in (I'm just north of the border in Canada).

I would also like to know this!

Join and donate to the American Chestnut Foundation, http://www.acf.org. You can get a sapling for a donation of $400 or so.

Only if your are East of the Mississippi.

I don't know if it understates the status of these new breeds. They haven't been proven, yet. It could be 50 years before it's clear that they are resistant.

My parents are also doing this on their property, it is exciting, and I hope this new breed is resistant to the fungus.

From lab-scale plants it's clear that they are at least as resistant as the chinese chestnut the fungus is from. http://www.esf.edu/chestnut/resistance.htm

Of course the proof is a forest of full grown trees, but there's every reason to expect this method will get us there.

You can be pretty certain the plants they've got are extremely resistant.

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 hope that you and they are correct, of course. While reading through the information the NY organization had sent, it just appeared that they were less certain than that.

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.

This is excellent - as someone who grew up wandering in the east coast forests, the chestnut is a real loss. (some estimates say that at one point the forests of CT were as much as 80% chestnut).

Where specifically should we donate? Can we donate labor as well?

My parents have three (living) chestnuts on their property (I guess the blight missed them because the trees have been there for a very long time). Those chestnut burs are a real headache. If you ever make the mistake of stepping on one, you'll be pulling needles out of your foot for a while (imagine stepping on a sea urchin). Cleaning them up is also a pain (make a mistake and they'll go straight through leather gloves). I can't imagine if 4 out of 5 trees I saw dropped those things.

I loved playing chestnut/oak nuts as a kid. You can make all kinds of human/animal figures from the nuts! It's was a treasure trove of endless play for kids who didn't have access to ready made toys.

Like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcyJOIQ8q_4

I remember reading somewhere that the high percentage of chestnut was likely due cultivation / encouragement of growth by Native Americans. I think it was in the book 1491. A plausible theory but hard to prove, I guess.

I think I read that, too. Makes some sense since among the trees in the northeast it is the only one that produces an edible mast crop. Definitely better than acorns.

The northeast has quite a variety of mast crops: Shagbark hickory, black walnut, butternut, beech (my favorite roasted but very small) and to a lesser extent hazelnut. But in its time the chestnut was by far the most consistent and prolific producer.

And an honorable mention to black cherry, a tree of the region with edible fruit.

Funny, in CT we had a bunch of these in our yard, but they never bore any fruit in our yard. We had some in Walla Walla where I went to college that would make so many you eat cherries for every meal for weeks.

Wow! Not every day that Walla Walla makes HN. Yes we have lovely trees here. There are several chestnut trees in the public parks, and I've long been curious to know if being in the west whether these trees avoided the blight, or are a different variety of chestnut.

Whitman? Or local?

How did you commit to planting the trees? Is that an organized program?

I'm going to choose to belive that the commenter is planing a heist to plant all of the seeds in the forest by themselves in a Robinhood fashion. They're asking for donations because they're going to hit the vault on their way out.

If you are going to make that joke, the correct reference is Johnny Appleseed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Appleseed

My good friend helps run that program :).

Hey, I think we know the same guy ;)

Just texted him just in case he wants to do an AMA ;)

Really good nes! I just wanna buy such new seeds now, is it possible?

OK, response from my friend: The timeline for release is roughly equal to "however long it takes him to finish his PhD" (since the EPA/USDA paperwork and red tape cutting is more or less his thesis). The seeds you can get from the ACF are not as resistant as what ESF is producing, but they're legal.

They're still waiting for the approvals they need to introduce GMOs into the wild. They can't legally distribute them as far as I know.

Looks like I was wrong about at least one of the blight resistant seeds, join the ACF to buy a few: http://acf.donorshops.com/product/C60EB65/2017chestnutseedle...

Currently limited to the part of the US that's east of the Mississippi.

There are several stands of genetically-pure American chestnut on the West Coast that remain because they were isolated from the blight. These were trees imported by settlers and arborists in the 19th century—they should remain protected!

The entire natural range of the American chestnut was east of the Mississippi.

Unfortunate that most of HN's reader base is in CA.


I doubt that is true anymore. Maybe 1/3?

How long do they take to grow big?

Chestnuts grow much more quickly than other hardwoods, like oaks. They reach maybe 10 feet(3m) in 3 years? They start producing nuts in 5-7 years.

Thank you

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