69th Annual NNGA Meeting
If there is any seasonal event which is more regular and dependable than the swallows returning to Capistrano, it is the reassembly of the Northern Nut Growers for their Annual Meetings. This year the Association will be meeting August 13 - 16, 1978 at the Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. This event will be a very special occasion for Ontario Nut Growers too because the nut growing history of Ontario and Michigan is very closely related. Here are just a few examples:
(a) George H. Corsan, Pioneer Nut Grower of Ontario, also spent several years working in Michigan to establish the "Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary" for the Kellogg family. This wildlife sanctuary was regarded as a first of its kind and the resources which were lavished upon it seemed to be unprecedented in its time. The Sanctuary includes a grove of nut trees which is still maintained by the Kellogg Foundation.
(b) Professor James Neilson who worked for the Vineland Experimental Farm, Vineland, Ontario during the 1930fs was also employed by the Michigan State University for a number of years. While he lived there, he encouraged many Michigan residents to grow improved selections of nut trees in the same way that he had done in Ontario. Michigan plantings of Neilson shagbark hickory, Des Moines hican, Iowa seedling pecans and heartnuts in many cases can be traced back to the influence of Professor James Neilson.
(c) Nut Growing has never known a more devoted friend than Dr. Harvey Kellogg, the man who founded the famous Battle Creek Sanatarium and Health Centre. No man claimed more effectively than Dr. Kellogg that nuts and nut products are some of Nature's most perfect foods. Since George Corsan spent considerable time in association with the Kellogg family, one has to wonder how much of George's enthusiasm for natural foods was generated by Dr. Kellogg. Dr. Kellogg was a brother of an equally famous gentleman....W. K. Kellogg, the man who invented the cornflake.
(d) H. H. Corsan, son of George H. Corsan, was a nurseryman of some considerable standing in Michigan. Many of the Carpathian Walnut seedlings which were grown by George Corsan on his Echo Valley Farm from seed obtained by the Crath Expedition, eventually found their way into the United States market via the nursery of H. H. Corsan.
(e) There have been many other enthusiastic Michigan nut growers, nut nurserymen and plant breeders such as Gilbert Becker, E. Prushek, Lee Somers, G. J. Korn...who did much to advance the knowledge of our nut growing heritage.
(f) Michigan State University, one of the more senior Universities in the United States and justly famous for its pursuits in Agricultural Research, is the Host for the 1978 NNGA Annual Meeting. The Agricultural Research which originates from Michigan has just as much application in Ontario as it does in the State of Michigan.
All of the Nut Growers previously described are now part of history but their works and aspirations live on.
Prairie Walnut Report
After a visit to the fine walnut trees at the Morden Experimental Farm, Morden, Manitoba I recognized a great potential for this unique planting. Our Prairie walnut seed distribution program was then initiated by an article in SONG 11, largely for the fifty or so members who live in the Prairie Provinces. Of course, it was recognized that there were other Prairie residents who also would like to participate in the program and probably would join SONG. Elva Fletcher, editor of the Country Guide inserted an article about the program in the Fall issue of Country Guide and an amazing avalanche of requests for nut seed arrived, most of them on or about the December deadline date. Seed was distributed at the rate of 4 nuts per packet for $1.00 with memberships and $2.00 per packet for non-members.
All seed packets available from the 1977 harvest have now been distributed. What at first seemed to be an adequate quantity has since developed into a short supply. However, Morden has promised to provide us with the 1978 crop of nuts, so there should be enough for the remaining applicants who have been already notified of this consequence. Two hundred sixty-two applicants have now received 260 packets of black walnut, 12 packets of butternut and 130 packets of Manchurian walnut. To date, 240 further applicants will receive seed from the expected 1978 crop. All remaining applicants will be served on a first come first served basis in case of short supply. If any Manitoba residents know where additional supplies of Manitoba grown walnuts are available, please refer information to Ernie Grimo.
I have been impressed by the keen pioneering spirit of the Prairie grower I hope through these
efforts that a place will be found for the hardy nut trees in the Canadian Prairie scene.
Ernest Grimo, R.R.#3, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON LOS 1J0
Tree Breeding and Breeding Partners at Virgil
The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and SONG hope to grow, for observation purposes, numbers of seedlings from nuts produced at the Virgil nut plantation. High quality selections are certain to be produced because of the high quality of the planted cultivars, a number of which are proven parents. Breeding is a complex process in which successes are limited by the genetic makeup of the parents and the number of the seedlings produced. Breeding schemes are usually heavy reading, but breeding is worth understanding. This explanation is not too technical and should be informative. I have been involved in breeding blight resistant native chestnut for fourteen years. I count one success as the development of strong feelings on where the chestnut work is headed.
First, we need to look at "out-crossing" and "selfing". Higher animal and typical plant sexual reproduction is by out-crossing. Out-crossing is fertilization and growth using the genetic pattern of two unrelated individuals. Reproduction by selfing, typically a plant process where one individual produces both the pollen and the seed embryo, is fertilization and growth using the genetic pattern of both sexes contained in a single individual. There are many barriers against selfing. It can be seen occurring where no other pollen source is available. Thus, in selfing, a bi-sexual individual fertilizes itself, producing offspring which resemble the parent very closely. Each selfed offspring is genetically much more stable than its parent, much more likely to pass on its traits to the next generation.
In his persimmon breeding work, J. C. McDaniel selected the cultivars John Rick and Florence after open-pollinating Killen. Open pollination is fertilization by random insect and wind blown pollen volunteered by local male trees. Only the seed parent is known. John Rick and Florence are not selfs of Killen because of noticeable differences from their seed parent, Killen. In the course of breeding McDaniel noted that Early Golden and its daughters, Garretson and Killen, occasionally produced male flowered branchlets. This highly unusual male flowering, and the other great similarities of Early Golden, Garretson, and Killen, led McDaniel to suggest that Garretson and Killen were selfed seedlings of early golden. George Slate open pollinated Garretson and produced Meader and Evelyn. Incidentally, McDaniel has been selfing Garretson, trying to select a cultivar (an individual to be reproduced asexually) with more of the male flowering tendency.
McDaniel's and Slate's persimmon breeding efforts show the value of breeding from a small group of highly endowed and stable parents. The seven persimmon cultivars mentioned indicate a group that is becoming known as the Early Golden family. By in-breeding (crossing between genetically close related individuals) it should be possible to move this group to variety status. A variety is a genetically and physically alike group able to sexually reproduce their traits and uniformity by crossing with other members of the same group.
A variation on breeding within a small group is seen in what Earl Douglass is doing with chestnut by in-breeding. Selfing in chestnut is rare, about three per cent successful in isolated trees; plus selfs in chestnut are very weak growing. Douglass in-bred a few genetically well endowed individuals and produced many good first and second generation seedlings.
Reviewing McDaniel's work with persimmon and noting Douglass1 work with chestnut, it becomes clear that breeding up a variety of trees is a time consuming process which requires endowed selections and precise initial breeding of them. The breeding starts by working against nature, removing the barriers to self-pollination and in-breeding. Once a breeding group is developed and geographically isolated, nature can take over to multiply and select. The chestnut trees that will come to dominate plant life in our forests will have to have the competitive qualities of the old native chestnut. For chestnut to seed itself into our forests the breeding process has to move the whole group of breeding partners toward that standard. Thus, the regeneration of native chestnut forests will have to follow the variety pattern.
Research station fruit and nut breeding is similar to the examples above except that it is short term and very economical with its limited resources. Suppose a research station is to produce an Ontario pecan. Witte, or some other good northern type pecan, could be used for the selfed parent. Early and productive selections of Witte x Witte may already exist at Brownwood Pecan Station, Texas. The Witte x Witte could be crossed with C. Clark's hican from Woodstock, Ontario. Selection from among the seedlings produced would be screened for what appears to be a Witte that ripens in this locality.
A selection having been made, either from nature or manufactured as at a research station, it is reproduced asexually and if found worthy, becomes a named cultivar. Once a selection is decided on, the breeding ends unless a significant industry uses the cultivar. The cultivars going into the Virgil plantation are typically planted by home gardeners. Some commercial plantings have started but production dollars are not great enough to initiate research station selfing, in-breeding and testing needed to concentrate the desired traits. Breeding is left to open pollination where continuity escapes human interpretation.
John Davidson of Xenia, Ohio planted and grew out black walnut seed which came from trees winning Ohio State walnut contests. As they bore, many fine nuts were revealed. Bowser is one of these seedlings which has been named.
When seed is planted from the Virgil nut plantation, it will be in the Davidson tradition. The source was good, therefore the seedlings should be good. Several of the cultivars recommended for Virgil are known producers of many seedlings which are fine nut bearers. These cultivars are proven parents. Examples of proven parents are Meader NH4 and Douglass Manchurian chestnut; Ohio, Thomas, Elmer Myers and Weschcke black walnut; Broadview and Hansen Persian walnut; Garretson and Killen persimmon. Compared to the Davidson seedlings, the Virgil seedlings will gain by both parents being of high quality. However, they will suffer from the great genetic diversity possible between out-crossed parents. Davidson, working with nuts from native walnut stands, could assume in-breeding to exist in many of his seedlings.
The breeding schemes having been described, it is appropriate to weigh the merit of breeding for a single exceptional seedling versus breeding for a variety. Realistically, each grower will have a favourite. If enough growers can agree on the best, and there is much pressure in marketing toward publicizing only one cultivar, it will be widely propagated asexually. This selection will become well known whether it is a chance seedling or a variety seedling. From this description it is easy to understand why fruit and nut breeding stations avoid the expense and time needed to work up a variety of tree crop. Even when the cultivar develops a fault, which often happens when a single individual is planted over wide areas, there is great pressure to avoid discarding it due to the promotion that has been put behind it.
However, there are sound reasons why conservation plantings should use varieties and sexual propagation. Each conservation planting should regenerate itself without reverting to low grade seedlings. Seed from newly manufactured selections or imported selections will produce a majority of low grade seedlings. These seedlings when used in conservation plantings require very close planting and much culling by skilled people to release superior and productive trees. Variety breeding in conservation plantings is more favourable, especially to amateur nut and minor fruit breeders. Nature's gardens, conservation plantings, will adequately grow out and select the numerous good seedlings produced by variety breeding. The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority has many separate parcels of land where varieties might be planted or seeded. Many people would like to watch and report on how these plantings develop.
The efforts of many conservation minded people are directed toward a successful nut plantation
at Virgil, Today there is a turn toward conservation which is taking on the meaning of survival
through renewal. Efforts toward continued renewal will not only assure the survival of plants and
animals in nature's garden but also the survival of the gardeners.
John Gordon, 6969 Salt Road, Clarence NY USA 14031
The Chestnuts ... the Traditional Favourites in Many Lands
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" ... so the song goes and to everyone those words conjure up visions of cosy winter nights, friendly conversations and some of the most delightful eating experiences known. In many localities chestnuts are synonymous with Thanksgiving and turkey dressings which are more than splendid to the taste buds. So too, these nuts of many uses find their way into soups, casseroles, cookies, nut breads, and in the dried and ground form even provide the flour for the humble flapjack! Something to satisfy every palate!
The impressive characteristics of some of the chestnut trees are worthy of careful consideration as well as the nut qualities. When the first European settlers arrived in North America, they found that the King of the eastern forests was the mighty chestnut. On each ridge the mammoth chestnut trees stood proclaiming their supremacy over the forest lands. The American chestnut was particularly competitive on the poor, sandy soils found in the upland locations. The deep-seeking tap roots of the chestnut found it easy to reach below to the refreshing ground waters. The native chestnut provided something for everyone....food for man and beast, saw-logs for the busy lumber mills and towering shade trees for the weary. The Monarch of the forests, the chestnut was often regarded as a North American symbol of strength as revealed obliquely in such poems as The Village Blacksmith.
Chestnuts have entered even into the language of international politics, In the period following World War II, one might have heard expressions such as.... "The Russians exercised a cautious enthusiasm about trying to take the British chestnuts out of the fire. " They were referring, of course, to chestnuts which have been roasted without proper preparation (puncturing of the shells to allow steam to escape) whereupon they have a tendency to explode. . .usually just at the point where the operator is trying to extract them from the fire.
Early in the 1900's many North American nut growers realized that there were some very attractive commercial opportunities in the growing of chestnut for nut production. Almost overnight extensive commercial plantings of chestnut came into being. The native, American Chestnut was well known by the consumers. In a society where many had been "born on the farm" but had subsequently moved to the city, the demand for quality chestnuts was high. There was to be one commercial chestnut which towered above all the rest.... and its name was PARAGON. Paragon provided extraordinary quality in a product which was already regarded as exceptionally good. The crisp, sweet goodness of Paragon was about to catapult chestnut growing into the position of a major agricultural crop. Several regions became famous as sources of supply of chestnuts and chestnut products became firmly fixed in the consumer's eye .
Then there was a sudden reverse in fortune for the chestnut growers. A blight fungus of oriental origin became established in eastern North America and in the passage of two decades, the existing chestnut industry was virtually wiped out.
All efforts to save the American chestnut as it was in the early 1900 *s, have been for the most part a failure. Although the chestnut blight caused great disarray among nut growers, numerous forward-looking growers realized that blight resistance would have to be established in chestnut if commercial opportunities were to be enjoyed again. Many experiments have been attempted in order to identify the much sought after combinations which would produce immunity or at least resistance to the blight. One of the most promising approaches was found to be that of introducing species of blight resistant chestnuts from other countries where blight is prevalent, and then adapting these species to the growing conditions of North America. Further prospects involved the hybridization of the several species in attempts to concentrate the best characteristics in individual trees which could be reproduced vegetatively by grafting, budding or cutting propagation. The most significant species to be considered are:
Chinese chestnut - Castanea mollissima
This species is one of the most promising for Ontario conditions. The nuts are attractive with a rich dark brown to mahogany colour and have relatively few downy hairs on the shell surface. The pellicle (membranous fiber covering the kernel) separates relatively easily from the kernel. If the nuts are air cured (dried) for approximately 7-10 days, both the eating and keeping qualities of the nuts are good. The scar or hilum of the nuts (the area directly attached to the bur) is relatively small. The trees are generally long-lived and at maturity may be wider than they are tall. The young leaves are densely hairy and the winter twigs also are covered with a soft, yellowish fuzz. The mature leaves are rather broad relative to length compared to other chestnut species. The undersides of the leaves are very light, silvery green. The indentations in the leaf margins are intermediate between those of the American and Japanese chestnuts. The leaves have a thick, leathery texture. Some specimens of Chinese chestnut are known to be hardy to temperatures as low as -35C(-30°F).
Chinese chestnuts are substantially resistant to chestnut blight.
Japanese chestnuts - Castanea crenata
This species produces some of the largest nuts of all the chestnuts and they are medium to dark tan colour; are somewhat drawn to a point at the flower scar end; the pellicle is somewhat heavy, fibrous and may be rather difficult to remove; the nut shell also may have somewhat more downy hairs, particularly at the flower scar end; the pellicle is somewhat heavy, fibrous and may be difficult to remove; the exterior nut shell also may have somewhat more downy hairs particularly at the flower scar end; the hilum is one of the largest, sometimes extending up the sides of the nuts; the eating and keeping qualities average somewhat less than the other species although these vary considerably with the individual tree.
The trees tend to be large at maturity, spreading and often the rather rough, dark-coloured trunks are many stemmed relatively close to the ground. The leaves are relatively narrow and have many tiny white spots (glands) on the undersides of the leaves. The trees are often precocious and productive although they are generally about one climate zone less hardy than the Chinese chestnut.
This species is somewhat less resistant to chestnut blight than the Chinese chestnut but many trees do reach a senior age with trunk diameters from 60 - 90 centimeters.
This species often is described as an intermediate form between the Chinese and the Japanese types with which the Manchurian shows many similarities. The trees are relatively resistant to chestnut blight and this fact suggests that the Chinese chestnut is the predominant element.
European chestnut - Castanea satira
The nuts are a good size and somewhat pointed at the flower scar end; dark brown in colour often with a series of stripes extending from the hilum to the flower scar. The eating and keeping qualities of the kernels are generally good although the pellicle may be somewhat thick and fibrous and in some cases difficult to remove from the kernel.
The trees are rather fast growing and the twigs are relatively stout right out to the ends. The trees are quite precocious and productive although sometimes short-lived in Ontario. The better selections are about one climate zone less hardy than the Chinese chestnut. The leaves are relatively long and narrow; are somewhat hairy at maturity and relatively blunt or rounded at the base.
The European chestnut is highly susceptible to chestnut blight and although it is not as susceptible as the American chestnut, few trees reach maturity in areas where chestnut blight is present.
American chestnut - Castanea dentata
The nut averages medium to small in size. The shells are a uniform dark brown in colour and have a tuft of downy hair at the flower scar end. The quality of the nuts is believed to be the best and sweetest of all the chestnut species. The pellicles are generally thin and easily removed.
The trees are relatively fast growing; moderately productive; very erect, straight, timber types and in old age the bark becomes noticeably furrowed. Tree hardiness extends 1-2 climate zones northward of the range for the Chinese chestnut. The leaves are relatively long and narrow with noticeable indentations. The leaf surfaces are hairless.
The species is highly susceptible to chestnut blight and the tops of the trees are short-lived in its presence. Since the blight does not attack the roots of the trees, the stumps will often resprout many times before ultimate death takes place.
Allegheny chinkapin - Castanea pumila
The unique trait which identifies the chinkapin is the fact that the nuts are borne in single burs which have relatively soft spines. The nuts are quite small; almost round; dark brown to mahogany in colour and the eating quality of the kernels is sweet and good ... often thought to be equivalent to the American chestnut. The chinkapin grows on bushes or small trees with maximum heights reaching 10 - 12 feet. The bushes are very precocious and produce large numbers of nuts. The leaves are similar to chestnut and the undersides are noticeably wooly.
Although the chinkapin is a North American native, it can thrive in areas where chestnut blight is common. Its chief value is as a distraction to deter birds and other predators away from the more valuable, larger nuts or as a breeding partner to produce hybrids with other species of chestnut to obtain unique combinations of characteristics.
Evaluations of some of the better examples of chestnuts and chinkapins
have been completed for the last several harvest seasons. The CENTS evaluation
procedures have been used to rank the overall performance of the trees or bushes as
commercial producers of quantities of nuts. This overall performance is in direct
relationship to the value of the (CE) score. Trees are ranked in order of decreasing
merit. The calculation of the overall performance raw scores (CE) requires the
evaluation of 16 specific traits as follows:
(1) Productivity - (P)
(2) Eating Quality of the Nuts - (Q)
(3) Crackability (Peelability) - (C)
(4) Kernel Size (Weight) - (K)
(5) Kernel Percentage - (k)
(6) Storage Characteristics of the Kernels - (S)
(7) Harvesting Characteristics - (H)
(8) Appearance of Kernels - (A2)
(9) Appearance of the Nuts in the Shell - (A^)
(10) Early Ripening - (R)
(11) Pollen Production - (L)
(12) Precocity of Bearing - (Y)
(13) Structural Characteristics of the Tree - (T)
(14) Tree Vigour - (V)
(15) Foliage Qualities, Freedom from Insects, Diseases - (F)
(16) Ease of Propagation (Grafting, Budding etc.) - (G)
The evaluation of the individual characteristics are reported in the following simplified forms:
4 - Excellent
3 - Above Average; An Attractive Level of Performance
2 - Average; General Acceptability
1 - Below Average; Marginal Acceptability
0 - Unacceptable
The key to interpreting the (CE) raw scores and the simplified (CE) rating is as follows:
|0-10||0||Tree worthless as a nut producer (may have some value as a shade tree)|
|11 - 100||1||Tree is of curiosity value as a nut producer or possibly of some value for breeding purposes if it has one or more unusual and worthwhile characteristic(s)|
|101 - 300||2||Minimum level of general acceptability for private growing purposes.|
|301 - 1000||3||Minimum level of general acceptability for commercial growing purposes.|
|1001 - 1112||4||An excellent commercial prospect....approaching perfection.|
The raw scores for (k), kernel percentage (% by weight of nut in the shell) and (K), kernel size (kernels per kilogram) are given in the evaluation tables in addition to the simplified forms.
The (CE) ratings are overall estimates of tree performance for commercial nut growing purposes in the localities where the trees are growing. It should be noted that evaluations are based in some cases on single tree observations (seedlings) or on small groups of trees (cultivars). Although CENTS is a metric evaluation system, it is possible to estimate gross income potential per acre from the (CE) raw scores. If for example the average price for chestnuts in the shell at the farm gate is $0.50 per pound, then the following expression gives the gross commercial income per acre:
It should be noted that a "close" planted orchard of chestnuts (trees spaced 3-5 metres apart) may come into maximum production of nuts in as little as ten years after planting. Thereafter some tree thinning may be necessary to reach ultimate spacing (trees standing 6-10 metres apart) at 20 - 40 years after initial planting. The commercial life of an orchard of blight resistant trees should be at least 40 years
Further details of the CENTS evaluation procedures are contained in the 1976 Annual Report of the Northern Nut Growers Association.
Evaluation of the Chestnuts
|Identity*||Year||Locality||P||Q||C||K||k||R||A1< td>A2||S||(CE) raw|
|Cummire IL(A,E,S)||1974||Hancock Co. IL||3||3||3||94.8|
|TES 1101(C,S)||1976||Greene Co. IN||4||2||3||111|
|TES 1101 (C,S)||1974||Greene Co. IN||3||2||3||101|
|77CH01 (M,A,S)||1977||Wayne Co . NY||3||2||3||107|
|77CH02 (M,A,S)||1977||Wayne Co. NY||3||2||3||111|
|Layeroka (C?)||1974||Niagara Region||3||2||3||121|
|76CM01 (C,S)||1976||Franklin Co. PA||3||2||3||77.5|
|76CM02 (C,S)||1976||Adams Co . PA||3||2||3||96.6|
|Crane (C)||1974||Greene Co. IN||3||2||4||272|
|Orrin (C)||1974||Greene Co . IN||2||2||3||136|
|77CS01 (J,S)||1977||Wayne Co. NY||2||2||3||122|
|Chinkapin (L,C,S)||1974||Franklin Co. PA||3||2||2||300|
|Chinkapin (L,S)||1974||Franklin Co. PA||2||2||3||1540|
Identity Designat Ions - Refer to Table of Data
The species background of the items listed in the evaluation table is indicated by the letters in
brackets after the individual "Identity Descriptions" as follows:
(A) - American Chestnut
(C) - Chinese Chestnut
(E) - European Chestnut
(J) - Japanese Chestnut
(L) - Allegheny Chinkapin
(M) - Manchurian Chestnut
(S) - Denotes a seedling selection as opposed to a cultivar
Note: Not all of the individual traits evaluated for this report are displayed in the table of evaluations. However, the (CE) Raw Scores do take into account all of the Evaluation Items (1)-(16) as previously listed in this article.
Any cultivar or selection which has a (CE) Raw Score of 301 or greater has very definite commercial potential. The experience in the Niagara Region, Ontario and Wayne County of New York State indicates strongly that chestnuts can be commercially productive in Ontario.
There is generally not much difference in the eating quality of various samples of chestnut which have been properly cured (air-dried at relatively low humidity and moderate temperature for 7-10 days). The level of quality of the significant chestnut species is universally acceptable on the consumer markets.
The potential commercial areas for chestnut in Ontario, with the current state of the art, include the north shore of Lake Ontario and an approximate area south of a line drawn from Toronto to Sarnia. Chestnuts, undoubtedly can be grown north of the described areas but the regularity of production may not be sufficiently predictable for commercial production.
Chestnuts are somewhat more demanding for appropriate soil conditions than many other nut trees but not as demanding as some fruit crops such as peaches. The best chestnut soils are well drained and somewhat on the sandy side of "average". Some strains of chestnut such as TES1101 seedlings will perform adequately in well drained, clay-loam soils. Chestnuts enjoy a high level of organic matter in the soil but they do not respond well to manure which has a significant content of pathogenic organisms.
Many chestnuts will produce their first harvest of a few nuts 3-5 years after transplanting the nursery trees. Many seedlings will match the cultivars in this respect.
Most chestnut cultivars are relatively difficult to graft or bud vegetatively because of the phenomenon of "rejection" between the rootstock and the scion wood. Therefore, grafted cultivars of chestnut are not generally available. Fortunately some chestnuts produce seedlings which are relatively true to type and develop into commercially competitive trees. Note in the evaluation tables that several of the seedling selections are equal to or better than the cultivars. Extended observations over a period of several years indicate that some chestnut trees will produce seedlings of which 10% or more will be commercially competitive. John Talbott who has maintained a seedling orchard of chestnuts for a number of years in Greene County, Indiana, has stated that seedlings are sufficiently good in quality and production that grafting or budding of chestnut is unnecessary. Furthermore the possibility of "delayed rejection" of a chestnut scion gives the superior seedling an additional edge.
The experience of Earl Douglass of Wayne County, New York is of special note. He succeeded in hybridizing the Manchurian species with the American chestnut. A good percentage of the first generation hybrids are developing into commercially competent producers. The second generation hybrids indicate even better performance. Furthermore the influence of the American chestnut is the tendency to produce timber-type trees in addition to the ample production of high quality nuts.
All of the chestnuts require good cross-pollination. The most likely transfer of pollen is via insects although some wind pollination may occur. If several species of chestnut are planted closely together, they will cross pollinate and hybridize readily on a natural basis. The hybrids can be detected by the intermediate forms of the resulting seedlings. Hybridization techniques hold much promise for the growing of chestnuts in areas where some of the pure species are not currently adapted.
It should be noted in particular that chestnuts flower and pollinate during the month of June and there is only a remote chance that the bloom may receive late frost injury. This factor alone assures that chestnuts will be much more regular in production than many other species of nuts and fruit. This advantage along with the long life expectancy of some of the chestnuts....particularly the Chinese...assure that chestnut growing can be commercially competitive with many other forms of food crops.
Note that there is some variation in chestnut production from year to year....refer to the performance of selection TES1101. It should be remembered that adequate fertilization and moisture should be available for a chestnut orchard which is in heavy production. An acre of prime chestnuts may produce as much as 1-2 tons of chestnuts in the shell per year. The concentrated nature of the chestnut kernels means that nutrients have to be replaced in the soil on a regular basis if production is to be maintained. Chestnuts require a good moisture supply from mid August through mid September in order to develop maximum nut size and heavy tonnages of crop.
Other than chestnut blight, there are few diseases or pests which are troublesome in chestnuts in Ontario. However, where chestnut weevils build up in population, controls may be necessary. Tests in the United States indicate that Sevin (Carbaryl) gives some measure of control and Guthion is somewhat better. Sprays are applied about mid August and then a second application about the first of September depending upon when the weevil adults are laying their eggs. The adults are long-billed insects which can be seen readily when they are active on the chestnut burs. They tend to be quite active just about when the burs are starting to split. Note: Any of the insecticides are dangerous and should not be used near houses or buildings where humans or animals are present on a frequent basis.
Many seedlings of the several cultivars and selections described in this article have been growing at the Queenston location of the SONG Editor. Orrin and Layeroka give a reasonable number of acceptable seedlings. The Cummire hybrid chestnut gives seedlings of exceptional interest. These seedlings are relatively fast growing and have very stout branches right to the ends of the twigs. It is hoped that they carry forward the European chestnut's tendency for heavy production which is noticeable in the parent tree. Furthermore the wood will have the strength to carry heavy crops. One cautionary note with the Cummire seedling is that other growers have found them to be not particularly blight resistant. It is the objective of the author to hybridize selections of the Cummire seedlings with blight resistant Chinese types (such as TES 1101 seedlings) to overcome this problem. One of the most remarkable chestnuts described in this article is the TES 1101 selection; it has produced some seedlings which have grown as much as 2 metres in one growing season...the third growing season from seed! The productive stage has not been reached yet but the prospects are intriguing.
The rather demanding requirements for successful storage of chestnuts for long periods of time, have a great bearing on techniques necessary for proper germination of the seed. The "easy" way out is to collect the seed late in the fall and simply plant it out in typical nursery rows. Plant the seed about 5-8 centimetres deep and mulch the surface for frost protection and hope for the best. Remove the mulch about the first week in May, the next spring. Seed germination will occur and the sprouts will emerge about mid June. Germination efficiency will generally be in the 10 - 60% range depending on the source of seed, the type of winter, frost penetration, moisture levels, rodent attacks etc. Another approach is to dry the nuts slightly and store the nuts over winter in moderately damp peat moss at about 2 C in a refrigerator. The nuts can be planted out in the following spring in similar nursery rows as above during the month of April or early May. The most demanding requirement of this latter technique is to get the right moisture level in the refrigerator storage period to assure that the nuts do not dry out excessively at the one extreme or get excessively damp and mouldy at the other extreme.
Chestnuts ripen in the Niagara Region from mid September to the third week in October depending on the selection of tree and the nature of the growing season. If chestnuts are marketed within the first month of harvest the storage requirements are not particularly unusual or demanding. Chestnuts which are to be stored for more than a month after harvest, should be air-dried for 7-10 days and then keep in a cool, controlled atmosphere storage.
There is a strong demand for high quality chestnuts in Ontario. Strains of chestnut are currently
available which can produce chestnuts in suitable quantity and quality under Ontario ! s climatic
conditions . Opportunities in growing chestnuts are awaiting interested Ontario nut growers.
R. D. Campbell, R.R.#1 Niagara-on-the-Lake ON L0S1J0
What Does a Good Nut Cost
The Great Canadian Winter starts to seem a little bit long in most years by about February, occasionally by January and in winters like 77/78 even December is too much. When the winter blaahs strike, there's no tonic quite like an early Spring Flower Show to perk up the spirits....or possibly a stroll through an open air market. The auspicious occasion was Friday, January 13, 1978 and your Editor was peering through the snowstorms darkly in the good city of Toronto. The closest thing at hand similar to an open air market was to go for a stroll through the Baton's Shopping Centre and Mall. What delightful discoveries were to unfold. Among other attractions a fruit, nut and produce stand was in full operation and what a busy place it was. People were crowding around to view the fresh pineapples, golden-yellow bananas, mouth-watering apricots, peaches, plums, mammoth red and yellow apples, lettuce, cabbage, giant oranges, cucumbers, red and black grapes, avocados, mushrooms....but what caught your Editor's attention the most, was the bountiful supply and choice of nuts! The people were snapping up the merchandise like hot cakes! The atmosphere was that of a tropical island basking in the full sun of mid-day. When the time came to join one of the two long line-ups to be checked out, there was ample opportunity to reflect upon the golden opportunities for Canadians in nut growing. The focus of this reflection involved not only the fabulous choice of nuts but also the fabulous prices which were being paid for nut kernels as follows:
|Price Per Pound|
|Chinese Pine Nuts||$5.80|
|Turkish Tree Hazels||$3.80|
Messages to the Editor
Enclosed are twelve maps for the location of certain specimens of native nut trees which you
requested. I could give you other locations but I'm not certain what condition the trees are in. If
you wish to get in touch for more information, don't hesitate to do so.
Albert Butwick, Millgrove ON
Reply via J. Gordon
Many thanks for the native nut tree locations which you have searched out and given to SONG. Many of us share your interest in locating the "Grand" old trees of Ontario. Much of the joy I find in grafting comes from visiting the original "champion" tree, knowing that with time and Providence it can be renewed. Letting my mind measure what it has taken a specimen tree to prevail, and what it will take to renew, musters awe and appreciation. We miss many grand trees as we pass them at 100 km/h. If some people stop, look and report as you have done, we may gain proper respect. You have located 3 large native chestnuts, one each in St. Catharines, Oakville and Sault Ste. Marie. The reason why they produce "blank" nuts, is probably a lack of cross-pollination. This offers SONG a unique opportunity to do some cross-pollination with blight resistant types such as the Douglass Manchurian chestnuts to produce hybrids with the native hardiness, erect timber type trees as well as the blight resistance and productivity of the Manchurian species.
J. Gordon/SONG, Clarence NY
We have a 138 acre tree-farm located 12 miles north-west of Walkerton, Ontario. We are
interested in planting some nut trees and the Ministry of Natural Resources has referred you to us
as a source of information and guidance. We would like to subscribe to your publication and
enclose our cheque for $3.00.
W.A. Horn, Mississauga ON
After I graduate from my horticultural program in the Spring of 1978, I wish to grow on a small
scale, a number of nut species. I've had little experience in this area of horticulture and am keenly
interested in establishing a wide variety of nut species and cultivars. I would prefer to get either
seed or started seedlings for the most part. I understand the genetic variation of seedlings but am
not overly concerned in this matter.
Simon de Boer, Guelph ON
I noticed the article in the December "Country Guide" and am interested in trying out the walnut
seed according to your offer. The winters certainly are cold here but hardy apples and some stone
fruits do reasonably well. I have a small orchard which just started bearing this year. The nuts
will be an interesting and informative venture for myself and a couple of neighbours who are also
avid horticulturists and have small orchards.
G.M. Gillund, P.Ag., Alberta Agriculture, SMoky Lake AB
The article in the "Country Guide" about the SONG Walnut Distribution Program was of great
interest to me, I am an avid gardener and would gladly answer questionnaires regarding results
from nuts planted here. Also, I want to confirm for you that wild hazel nuts grow along the Red
Deer River about 28 miles east of Red Deer Alberta.
Mrs. Mary Martin, Delburne AB
I received seven heartnut seeds from your distribution program in 1976. Six sprouted and one
died. The seventh sprouted in the spring of 1977 and another one expired so now I have five
healthy young trees. Incidently, I noticed an advertisement in the local newspaper last fall
offering black walnuts for $3.00 for a 6 quart basket.
Marshall F. Neilson, Georgetown ON
Manuscripts are solicited on all aspects of management of small woodlands for publication by
Walnut Press or Timber Press. Inquiries are invited,
Bruce Thompson, Walnut Press, Fountain Hills, Arizona
Most of the public libraries have no information whatsoever about the growing of nut trees.
Therefore, each member could take the names of some of the best books to them and encourage
them to stock the better items on their shelves such as: "Handbook of Northern Nut Trees" and
"Edible Nuts of the World".
Norman G. Scott, London ON
Inadvertently I had let my membership lapse in the past year so in that respect, I suppose that I've
become a SANG member. I hasten forthwith to correct this situation for which $3.00 is enclosed
for the coming year.
I want to know if there is anything in insecticide that could excite a man. Arthur is 55, just the age when most men start to slow down but he's still going strong. He gets especially aroused right after he sprays our property for bugs. I noticed it last year when we moved into this house. We had ants and roaches and right after Arthur sprayed the bugs he started looking for me. He would get so passionate he didn't care if I did my housework or even cook. Last j year was bad enough but this year it's worse. On weekends he sprays sometimes two and three times a day. It's really getting me down. What brand of bug bomb will kill the bugs on our property without bringing out my husband's manhood so strong? He uses Raid, TNT and Rid-a-Bug and they all have the same effect on him. The brands that don't effect him, don't have any effect on the bugs either. Please help me.
My chemical experts know of nothing in any brand of insecticide that will rejuvenate the waning desire of man. If there were, we'd have a lot more dead bugs, livelier husbands and tired wives.
Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.