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Old 03-04-2012, 01:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

We all know about the American Chestnut and chestnut blight.
I couple years ago I read about the Dunstan Chestnut and have purchased a few and even in partial shade they are doing well. It is advertized as
Quote:
"The blight-resistant Dunstan Chestnuts make possible the re-establishment of chestnut trees and chestnut orchards in America."
But I went to the site of The American Chestnut Foundation and not a word about the Dunstan hybrid and they mention they are actively trying to create blight resistant trees to reestablish the forests.
Does anyone know what is going on here? There is obviously an issue here. My guess is that the Dunstan Hybrid is not considered by the foundation as being an American Chestnut. For me what ever it is is less important than I get a tasty nut tree established on my place, although having a true american chestnut would be nice.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

The American Chestnut Foundation is trying to get a blight resistant PURE American Chestnut. There are a lot of hybrids out there, but I don't think any of them really perform like the pure species. They've got some blight resistant pure Am. Chestnuts but only a percentage from seed have the resistance (but you can graft the resistant plant onto the root-stock of the non-resistant plants with no problems. They (the American Chestnut Foundation) have a deal where you have to pay annual dues to get a few plants. It used to be a flat price of something like $15 for 5 trees but now it is technically a never ending annual fee to participate. I know there are groups testing some pure Am. Chestnuts near where I live at an Arboretum and at a polo farm. I'm hoping to get some plants one day but I hope to just buy them outright. I'm sure when they have a pure resistant strain you'll be able to buy them potted at the big box stores...which is probably when I'll get some.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

I may have found the answer to my question.
Quote:
....Chinese-cross trees like the Dunstan rarely achieve heights above 25 feet, so the thrust of this aspect of the academic/scientific community is to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut that can establish itself again as a giant in the eastern forest. .... The American Chestnut: Is There Hope? - Favorite Articles - Archive
It appears that the Dunstan hybrid duplicates the chinquapin being perhaps between the Appalachian and Ozark varieties in size. The nut is very sweet and can be large. The original american chestnut made 200 feet in height. So I now understand the issue. There are some Chinquapins in my area, possibly planted by settlers or even native americans.
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Old 03-04-2012, 10:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Being a commercial chestnut grower for 13 years and a member of the American Chestnut Foundation for quite a few years and know quite a bit about this matter.

The Dunstan are more Chinese than American so they sure don't meet the needs of restoring the American Chestnut. I've grown some myself and don't consider them to be particularly good varieties either and somewhat over-hyped. For your location I'd suggest getting grafted trees or seeds from Greg Miller at Empire Chestnut Company.

The American Chestnut Foundation isn't trying to restore pure American chestnut as they have no resistance to the blight. They are pinning their hopes on two lines (if I remember correctly) which have been crossed with two old Chinese introductions and then back-crossed to achieve trees that are 15/16 American.

Rob, know Hill Craddock that works with chestnuts in your area very well. I've sent him scions and he's bought chestnuts from me and I've been at a couple of chestnut conferences with him. Nice guy.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

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Being a commercial chestnut grower for 13 years and a member of the American Chestnut Foundation for quite a few years and know quite a bit about this matter.

The Dunstan are more Chinese than American so they sure don't meet the needs of restoring the American Chestnut. I've grown some myself and don't consider them to be particularly good varieties either and somewhat over-hyped. For your location I'd suggest getting grafted trees or seeds from Greg Miller at Empire Chestnut Company.

The American Chestnut Foundation isn't trying to restore pure American chestnut as they have no resistance to the blight. They are pinning their hopes on two lines (if I remember correctly) which have been crossed with two old Chinese introductions and then back-crossed to achieve trees that are 15/16 American.

Rob, know Hill Craddock that works with chestnuts in your area very well. I've sent him scions and he's bought chestnuts from me and I've been at a couple of chestnut conferences with him. Nice guy.
I looked up the Empire Chestnut Company and also H. Craddock. H. Craddock seem to be in Tennessee so that is not really my area but it is closer than California.
The three dunstans and unknown chinese chestnut that I have are so far doing ok. I tried the Allegheny type of chinquapin and something killed them. I would like to hear more of why the dunstans are not so good. Are the claims that are made false?
In anycase once I get some more land cleared I will consider buying a bundle from Empire.
Thanks for the information.
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

The Dunstans don't have great flavor, some have shells that split, and some produce small nuts. Chinese chestnuts don't grow that well in our dry California climate (at least not in the hot Central Valley) but they grow well throughout the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. They are resistant to blight. Greg Miller has grown many different varieties/selections and is growing some of the best Chinese. The University of Missouri has been working with chestnuts quite a bit and has grown quite a few of Greg's varieties. You can find information at The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. I have known the folks at Missouri for many years (three staff members came to the international congress in Portugal in 2004) but at least two people working with chestnuts were let go last fall due to budget cuts.

The varieties I grow generally would not do well in Alabama and would likely die from blight in a short period of time.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Thanks for the information and I will pursue the links that you posted and looked into some other cultivars. I know now that blight resistant chestnuts will grow on my land and will try to get some other cultivars with better nuts.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

One thing Greg Miller once said at a gathering of growers is that the Chinese species more frequently produce trees true to type from seed and that he selects that as a trait so you can use that to your advantage if you'd like to save some money. Qing is one Chinese variety that I am growing and it's produced some nuts but isn't growing great here. A friend of mine from nearby "discovered" the mother tree in Kentucky in a front yard and sent nuts and cuttings to Greg who agreed it was a great find. It has had problems with delayed graft rejection but mine was grafted onto a Qing seedling and has been fine for maybe 6-7 years.
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Not breeding true to the maternal type could be the problem with the dunstan if it is grown from seed. One that I have I know is seedling: I do not know about the two I purchased from Lowes.
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Old 03-05-2012, 11:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by harveyc View Post

Rob, know Hill Craddock that works with chestnuts in your area very well. I've sent him scions and he's bought chestnuts from me and I've been at a couple of chestnut conferences with him. Nice guy.
Yes, Hill Craddock, I remember the name now. I live near Bendabout Polo Farm and I remember reading that they have a test plot over there as well at Reflection Riding Arboretum. I've seen the ones at Reflection Riding a few years back. I personally don't care as much about the nuts but I would like to see a return of such a massive, quick growing tree once hailed as the "Redwood of the East". Do you sell pure American Chestnut seeds? I'd like to find a source so that if I ever get my hands on a blight resistant tree I can have some root stock available for grafting.
Here's one I found in Nashua, NH:
American Chestnut trunk
I was hopeful that I'd get seeds off of it some day but now the blight is starting to appear on it and all the nuts are shriveled.
American Chestnut leaves
American Chestnut husk 1
Here's the blight setting in:
Chestnut Blight damage

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Old 03-06-2012, 12:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Rob, I've got one complex hybrid that appears to have American in it but no pure American. You shouldn't really bother with those anyways since they wouldn't survive. Hill might be able to set you up with something. I know he help Dolly Parton plant a blight-resistant (hopefully) hybrid. Both Hill and the ACF are on Facebook.

There are quite a few poor quality varieties so if you have a good one you might actually like it. The American are pretty small for consuming, though. For eating purposes, Chinese are probably your best option.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:21 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Regarding the shriveled nuts you mention in your post, Rob, that could be due to lack of pollination as well. Most chestnuts need to be cross-pollinated (some folks say all must be but I know from personal experience that is not true) and some chestnut trees produce no pollen at all.
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:01 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by harveyc View Post
Regarding the shriveled nuts you mention in your post, Rob, that could be due to lack of pollination as well. Most chestnuts need to be cross-pollinated (some folks say all must be but I know from personal experience that is not true) and some chestnut trees produce no pollen at all.
for cross-pollination I assume that the chinese chestnuts and the dunstan hybrids are compatible. Do you know if chinquapins species can cross-pollinate with other chinquapins and also with chinese and american chestnuts. I was thinking no for american chestnuts since their ranges historically overlapped. The ozark chinquapin can get big IIRC.
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

All of the chestnuts are compatible with one another although some growers in Michigan have a theory that their European x Japanese hybrids pollinated by Chinese chestnuts develop rot problems because of a compatibility issue (poorly formed embryos?). I don't know about the compatibility of chinquapins but think that they might be able to pollinate chestnuts. A long-time researcher in Connecticut commented at a meeting I attended that chinquapins might be useful in breeding gall wasp resistance into chestnuts. Gall wasp is becoming increasingly serious problem in some areas back east as well as Italy.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

I just went out and checked my three dunstan and one mystery chinese chestnuts and all them for the first time have tassels. With luck I might get a nut or two. Last year I cut away some of the larger shading trees and it probably helps a lot.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:21 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

Tassels belong on corn. Catkins grow on chestnuts!

Some catkins don't have anthers or pollen. Many folks believe no chestnuts are self-compatible (require more than one variety for pollination), but I'm quite certain that is not correct based on my experiences, including witnessing some solitary trees with heavy crops. The stigmas are part of the separate flower that appears to be a small chestnut and are born on the same new growth. I'm probably 2-3 weeks away before flowers here.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:43 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

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Tassels belong on corn. Catkins grow on chestnuts!

Some catkins don't have anthers or pollen. Many folks believe no chestnuts are self-compatible (require more than one variety for pollination), but I'm quite certain that is not correct based on my experiences, including witnessing some solitary trees with heavy crops. The stigmas are part of the separate flower that appears to be a small chestnut and are born on the same new growth. I'm probably 2-3 weeks away before flowers here.
I wonder why I would be ahead you since I am an 8b and you are a 9b.
Thanks for the aid with correct technical jargon for catkins. Yesterday morning they were thick and this evening they were ragged with much of the mass gone.
Whether there are any nuts this year or not, it is still better than nothing happening. I have them rather close together with the idea that fertilization since it is by wind would be superior. Perhaps that was mistake.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:38 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

I'm guessing you're further south than me so your season warms up sooner than me even though your winters are colder.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:40 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

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I'm guessing you're further south than me so your season warms up sooner than me even though your winters are colder.
I looked you up your map setting and yes you are further north. So not only are daytime temperatures different, but likely photoperiod also. Our upper temperatures are now in the 80's and within a few days we will be in the humid 90's. Summer comes early and stays a long time hereabouts.
The deer flies have been out for a time already.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:51 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: The American Chestnut Foundation & Dunstan?

We've had a couple of days in the 90s which is pretty unusual but mostly in the 70s with some low 80s and nights down to 50. Even so, my tomatoes are doing very well since they spent their first two months indoors!
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