Connecticut Chapter

Host An Orchard

If you want to play a role in the restoration of the American Chestnut, you can become a partner of TACF and offer a new location for a Germplasm Conservation Orchard (GCO)!

A germplasm conservation orchard (GCO) is an orchard collection of diverse wild American chestnut sources. In partnership with the CT Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (CT-TACF), this orchard would include sources primarily native to CT, though other sources could be planted as well. A GCO generally contains 10 seedlings from 10 different mother trees (100 trees) per acre and is often planted over a period of one to several years, but can be scaled up or down as space and resources allow. Site location is best for a sunny area with well-draining soil and preferably, southern exposure. Old agricultural fields or recently clear-cut patches are suitable and a soil test is performed to determine the nutrient content and see how much replenishment with fertilizer is needed. Most of these trees are started from seed, though grafted or transplanted sources may be used as well. Finding new sources to plant can take some time, and therefore somewhat difficult to predict exactly how many seed will be planted each year. As such, this type of orchard may take several years before fully planted. Annual meetings between CT-TACF and the orchard host will be held at least annually and will help to review the status of the project and also provide a mechanism for planning the upcoming year’s activities.

Successful orchard management tries to mitigate the major sources of mortality for the nuts and trees planted. These include but are not limited to: rodents, raccoons, turkeys, and bears eating the nuts; voles, mice, and deer eating bark or twigs; drought stress; competition from weeds; standing water; insect infestations; and mowing over trees. Trees that are well nourished and watered respond better to most threats than trees that are stressed. Successful orchards respond well to simple management practices, such as maintenance of fencing, periodic weeding, watering and fertilizing. In addition, accurate labelling, record keeping, and data collection are of great importance for tracking and future use of the trees for scientific purposes.

Land Trusts would be the ideal arrangement since the land, access, and purpose is traditionally already established. Two new GCOs planted in April 2021 have Land Trust ties.

Germplasm Conservation Orchard

Suggested Layout

A blocked layout that keeps genotypes together is recommended. This is the simplest way to keep sources clear. A wide buffer between blocks allows for good pollination access. With this design, orchard managers will need to resist the urge to plant within the buffer rows, especially while trees are small. It is also important that any replacements are only made with the same genotype.

A six-block example:

Pollination and Harvest

As trees grow old enough to begin flowering, they may be used for transgenic diversification or other crosses of interest. Chestnuts start flowering in June, with full bloom coming in early-mid July. For controlled pollinations, flowers are typically bagged in late June or early July, pollinated 10-14 days later, and harvested in late September or early October. Pollination requires working directly with the flowers and is typically done from a ladder or bucket truck, though small trees may be pollinated from the ground. As more trees begin flower the potential also exists for harvesting open-pollinated nuts. These may be used for TACF science programs, eating, or both.

Blight Control Measures

As wild-type American sources, the trees in a GCO are not expected to have any blight resistance and blight will eventually move through the orchard. Main stems will be killed over time and should be allowed to re-sprout. There are some methods that could be used to try to keep them alive longer. Mudpacking can be used and is most effective if cankers are caught early. Assessing the trees for blight annually (or more frequently), so mudpacking can be planned for, is helpful. Hypovirulence treatment is also a possibility, though not currently widely available.

Further Reading to Assess Expectations

A sample Orchard Management Plan
A sample CT GCO agreement
An article (page 15) from the Journal of the American Chestnut Foundation.

Interested parties should contact the Connecticut chapter for more details.

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Pets of The American Chestnut Foundation: Episode 3

Charlie Renfield Sparkle, aka Charlie Chestnut or “Chichi,” is a certified HLI (Horrible Little Idiot) with over 6 months experience of bringing joy and chaos to the home of TACF’s Northern Regional Outreach Coordinator, Catherine Martini. He was brought home last fall along with the chestnut harvest and has been trying to bury himself in the forest ever since. Charlie is not a wild-type American chihuahua and hasn’t been genotyped yet, but phenotypically we believe he is a Pug-Chihuahua hybrid.
When not digging up various disgusting things in the yard, Charlie is most frequently attacking his siblings or snoring on Catherine’s lap while she checks her emails.

Matilda is the soul-dog and familiar of Catherine. She is a fearsome and powerful wrestler who only plays “Matilda wins.” Her favorite activities include sunning herself, going for long walks in the wilderness, protecting every baby (no matter what species – most recently, bunnies), and giving an amount of kisses way above the recommended daily allowance. Matilda prides herself on her ability to make anyone, even her dog siblings, give up their spot on the couch for her. And let’s face it, she really deserves that spot more than any of us do.

Moreau “Goose” Martini-Riley is a 5-year-old boxer dog who got the nickname of “Goose” because he is so silly. Goose is here for two reasons: to play, and to eat butter – and he’s not allowed to eat butter.
Goose only has one brain cell, which is heart-shaped, so he’s perfectly suited to his job of being the charismatic goof-ball who loves everyone. He enjoys making everyone he meets feel like the most important person in the world and will sneak in a sloppy kiss or two if you let him. Goose loves to help in the garden, mostly by digging holes, but he also loves to hurt in the garden, mostly by digging holes. Goose was born deaf, but he doesn’t know it – he knows sign commands and enjoys sleeping through his siblings’ barking parties.
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Join us on TODAY, April 19, 2024, from 11:30AM – 1:00PM (EDT), for the next LIVE Chestnut Chat, where we'll talk all about growing chestnuts!

In this episode, we will cover all the basics of planting, growing, and maintaining American chestnut trees. TACF staff and expert volunteers will talk about how to plant chestnuts from seed and from seedlings, including bareroot and containerized seedlings, as well as considerations for planting in the spring versus the fall. Bring your questions and don’t miss this Chestnut Chat that is sure to become an instant classic.

Visit the link to save your spot! tacf.org/event/chestnut-chat-growing-chestnuts/
... See MoreSee Less

Join us on TODAY, April 19, 2024, from 11:30AM – 1:00PM (EDT), for the next LIVE Chestnut Chat, where well talk all about growing chestnuts!

In this episode, we will cover all the basics of planting, growing, and maintaining American chestnut trees. TACF staff and expert volunteers will talk about how to plant chestnuts from seed and from seedlings, including bareroot and containerized seedlings, as well as considerations for planting in the spring versus the fall. Bring your questions and don’t miss this Chestnut Chat that is sure to become an instant classic.

Visit the link to save your spot! https://tacf.org/event/chestnut-chat-growing-chestnuts/

1 CommentComment on Facebook

Was this episode recorded? I was only able to follow along for a few minutes because I was at work. But, I'd love to see this again.

You can make a difference for people, for an ecosystem, and for a tree.

Join the movement to save the American chestnut by becoming a member of The American Chestnut Foundation today.

support.tacf.org/membership
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You can make a difference for people, for an ecosystem, and for a tree.

Join the movement to save the American chestnut by becoming a member of The American Chestnut Foundation today.

https://support.tacf.org/membership

One year ago volunteers gathered at Pryor Orchard in Edneyville, NC and planted chestnuts seeds gathered on the Appalachian Trail by NC/SC Chapter member Jon Taylor, who also led a planting demonstration at the start of the event.

To see find out about volunteer and planting events in your neck of the woods, visit our events calendar at tacf.org/events/category/tacf/
... See MoreSee Less

One year ago volunteers gathered at Pryor Orchard in Edneyville, NC and planted chestnuts seeds gathered on the Appalachian Trail by NC/SC Chapter member Jon Taylor, who also led a planting demonstration at the start of the event.

To see find out about volunteer and planting events in your neck of the woods, visit our events calendar at https://tacf.org/events/category/tacf/

HAPPENING IN TWO DAYS!

The VA Department of Forestry and VATACF will be planting 300 bareroot seedlings at Lesesne State Forest on Monday, April 15th. Planting will begin at 10:00AM and last until we are finished (likely 4-6 hours depending on how many folks come out). Please come out and help us plant these trees in our effort to restore the American chestnut!

Please note that the terrain we are planting on has a lot of brush and debris, it is not easy to get around. If you have movement issues I recommend selecting another of our volunteer events. Bring water, lunch/snacks, bug spray or sunscreen if needed, and gardening gloves. We will have all the equipment required for planting.

Please visit the link for more information. tacf.org/event/planting-at-lesesne-state-forest/
... See MoreSee Less

HAPPENING IN TWO DAYS! 

The VA Department of Forestry and VATACF will be planting 300 bareroot seedlings at Lesesne State Forest on Monday, April 15th. Planting will begin at 10:00AM and last until we are finished (likely 4-6 hours depending on how many folks come out). Please come out and help us plant these trees in our effort to restore the American chestnut!

Please note that the terrain we are planting on has a lot of brush and debris, it is not easy to get around. If you have movement issues I recommend selecting another of our volunteer events. Bring water, lunch/snacks, bug spray or sunscreen if needed, and gardening gloves. We will have all the equipment required for planting.

Please visit the link for more information. https://tacf.org/event/planting-at-lesesne-state-forest/

1 CommentComment on Facebook

Guess no accountants will participate

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