Hopefully, sometime in 2023, our truly blight-tolerant (i.e. resistant) American chestnut trees will be approved for distribution (pending decisions by federal regulators). At that time, we will have permission to distribute seedlings, pollen, or scions for grafting.
Many of our members have “mother” trees, which are flowering and ready to produce blight-tolerant offspring. All that is needed is the blight-tolerant material to cross with their mother trees. Anyone who does not have a mother tree and is interested in receiving one can contact me. I will do my best to supply you with nuts for planting.
As soon as blight-tolerant trees or pollen have approval for distribution, we would like them to be crossed with a variety of wild-type trees. It will increase the genetic diversity of the trees we restore to the forest. Your mother trees will help us achieve this goal. We are also looking for wild American chestnut trees to incorporate into our New York breeding program. If you know of one, please contact us. Additionally, you can input data for the tree in an app called TreeSnap.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the families of former NY-TACF members who have passed on and did not get to see “a truly blight-resistant American chestnut”. Their loyalty and support have helped make this dream come true for both us and our descendants.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has helped get us to our current milestone: all the past and present staff at SUNY ESF, the New York State members of TACF who have planted trees and collected nuts, and everyone who has contributed to the SUNY ESF American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project. They are all to be commended.
The next several years will be a great adventure once we have government approval to distribute blight-tolerant material. People will be able to plant blight-tolerant seedlings in their mother tree orchards, which hopefully will cross-pollinate and produce blight-tolerant nuts. But we will also be able to distribute blight-tolerant pollen to people who already have flowering trees. By hand-pollinating, people may be able to produce blight-tolerant nuts by the fall of 2023; if we get government approval soon enough to hand pollinate.
There is still a great deal of work to be done but I have great confidence that we have the expertise and dedication to achieve our ultimate goal: The reintroduction of a blight-tolerant American chestnut tree back into the forest.