To study the effect of kernel size on size of seedling produced in the nursery, nuts from nine wild trees and Thomas nuts were planted. Kernel weights ranged from 1.21 to 5.61 grams; nut weight from 6.5 grams to 24.3 grams.
Results: With one exception where germination was poor, nuts with small kernels produced small seedlings and nuts with large kernels produced large seedlings. Under nursery conditions the need for uniformly large seedlings for budding and grafting is apparent. The results of this study indicated the desirability of using seed nuts with large kernels for production of understocks.
Seedbed and Budding Studies
Density of stand in seedbeds influences seedling size. As size of seedling is important in budding and grafting black walnut, information on the most desirable spacing in seedbeds was needed. In three seedbeds Thomas nuts were planted in three nut spacings: 4 x 4 inches, 5 x 5 inches, and 6 x 7 inches. In other plots nuts were planted 4 x 4 inches and after emergence the stand was thinned. All seedlings from the thinning test were set out in nursery rows the following spring and those large enough were budded in the summer.
Results: Increasing the spacing produced seedlings of larger girth and shorter height—a desirable characteristic in black walnut budding stocks. The most desirable spacing appeared to be 6 x 7 inches. Even though the number of seedlings resulting from this spacing was approximately half the number produced at 4 x 4 inches spacing, more usable seedlings were produced at the wider spacing.
Thinning seedlings spaced 4 x 4 inches resulted in larger girth of those remaining—very similar in size to seedlings spaced 5 x 5 inches. Seedlings from the thinned and unthinned plots averaged 0.62 cm. and 0.55 cm. in diameter, respectively. In the nursery row 73 percent of the larger transplanted seedlings were large enough for budding the following summer, while only 59 percent of the smaller seedlings attained proper size. Bud survival was 22 percent on the larger stocks indicating the desirability of using large stocks.
My Experiments, Gambles and Failures
John Davidson, Xenia, Ohio
In reading the past reports of this Association, I find one thing lacking. One becomes interested in a report dated, let us say, 10 or 20 years ago, which contains an account of a project then started. It had great possibilities. What was the outcome? We do not know. No mention of it has appeared since. Did it fail? Let us say it did. Why? The answer to this final query is almost, if not quite, as important as would be an account of the means employed to make it successful—if it succeeded.
I should like to know, for example, whether anything remains of the Neilson-Post project in Michigan and what its history has been. I should like to hear more, also, about the outcome of many of Mr. Gerardi's intensely interesting and original experiments, such as his method, described in the 29th Annual Report, of asexual propagation of heartnut trees on their own roots; or his method of artificially creating beautifully marked burls on black walnut logs by systematically and repeatedly scoring the bark. These and many others. Which experiments were successful and which were not? Mr. Gerardi's original and adventurous mind is the sort that should be probed for the benefit of those who come after us.
My report today is my own short and tentative contribution to such a resume.
In the 1938 Report, on page 73, you will find my ambitious and optimistic "Farm Plan for Nut Tree Planting." In it I tried to outline a plan which could be used by any practical farmer with but slight sacrifice of useful land. Its last sentence reads as follows: "Meantime, I shall have kept practically all my land in profitable use all the time." Well, that depends upon what is interpreted as "profitable use." Tree growth is surely profitable.
The plan, in substance, was as follows: First, plant 20 acres in a modified forest formation to selected seed, mostly black walnut, the trees to stand 8 feet apart in rows 22 feet apart. Use the space between the rows first for truck gardening and later for an interplanted row of some fast-growing species for timber. No grazing permitted. Second, plant another 20 acres to a nut orchard using grafted trees of named varieties spaced 80 feet apart. Protect from livestock and permit grazing. Finally, plant seed in another 30 acres, spaced 80 feet apart, the seedlings to be eventually topworked to the wood of promising discoveries from the first plot. Protect and cultivate or graze.
What has been the outcome of this plan to date? The proposed plan worked very well in a 20-acre plot where a meadow was planted to an orchard of grafted trees, mostly pecans and Carpathians, which were protected by cattle guards, but was not completed in the seedling 20-acre plantation where the trees stood 8 feet apart in rows 22 feet apart. No grazing was permitted there, but berries and truck crops were put out. I couldn't keep it up. The reason: a World War, and lack of help for the intensive type of farming required for the project. Finally, when I attempted to interplant the rows with fast-growing trees, weeds choked out most of them in spite of my own efforts. My own physical and time limitations defeated me in the interplanting undertaking.
This leads up to an enumeration of my mistakes. First, I did not start early enough in life. The elements of health and strength have their part in success. Then, too, let us see what might have been the result if I had started at the age of 20. Remember, in this first tract of 20 acres I planned a forest plantation of selected black walnut seedlings, some chosen for nut quality and some for large, straight timber growth. A tract of 20 acres planted 8 x 8 x 22 feet will hold about 4500 trees. Allow for thinning and other reductions. If only 1250 trees should reach log size in 50 years, that is, by today for me, at an average of $50 each, they would come to $62,500—a very tidy estate.
Just now there are perhaps 2500 well grown trees in the good portion of the ground in this 20 acres. Pleasantly enough, they do not now seem to need the interplanting of faster-growing trees in order to develop upright growth but are pushing each other up as they stand, 8 x 8 x 22 feet apart. In this planting, then, there is evidence of successful timber growth in the good ground but of almost complete failure in the poor ground.
Another failure is to be noted in my original plan for cattle guards. These guards were 12 feet in diameter, and about 6 feet in height. These were satisfactory for sheep after I had installed pipe for posts, but not for cattle. Trees grow horizontally as well as vertically. Cattle, reaching for these side shoots, reached over the guards and pushed in and under. I later reduced the guards to a 6-foot diameter of stronger woven fence-wire with 6-inch stays, not 12-inch, and raised the height to not less than 10 feet. The cattle may now nibble off the side shoots if they wish but the vertical growth is protected. Above 10 feet the trees can spread out without danger.
Others say, "Permit no grazing at all." This statement, I think, should be made with certain qualifications. Where bluegrass bottom is used for the orchard planting of pecans or black walnuts, there is a possible slight reduction in growth from lack of cultivation, but this loss will be nowhere nearly proportionate to a farmer's loss of pasturage. And even in my 8 x 8 x 22-foot planting of seedlings, though no grazing was permitted while the trees were young, now the older trees are large and strong enough in the good soil to take care of themselves. Some lower branches are rubbed off but they should be off anyhow. Also, thank heaven, the weeds are at last kept down by grazing, the grass is utilized and, most important of all, the hazard of grass fires is entirely wiped out. I know of a neighbor's planting destroyed in this way and I shall always fear fire. I should not permit grazing in a general purpose woods lot where young growth is constantly coming on.
Failure three: I have failed completely to interest my tenant in my project. Each mowing or clean-up job is just a chore to him. I can't blame him. Why should I expect anything else? With a World War on hand, and with his son in the army, and with two farms to care for, the immediate bread-and-butter jobs come first and my mowing suffers. However, the wonderful trees somehow continue to grow in spite of weeds and wars, perhaps a bit more slowly than they otherwise might, but I am in no hurry.
The last war casualty was my original plan to make a further orchard planting of seedlings in loco, ready to be top-worked to the wood of some outstanding find among the selected seedlings. It has not been done—period.
I think I do have one or two rather outstanding nuts among the seedlings, but this leads up to another casualty which must be faced by all of us—a temporary one, fortunately, namely, crop failures due to the weather. The larger trees began to bear at age seven. Then, three years ago we had a drouth. For the two years since then, we have had summer in March and winter in May. The catkins were mostly killed and the pistillate bloom was delayed in growth upon the new wood until most of it came too late for even such pollination as was so sparingly available. Thus we have had no generally good nut producing season for three years in our part of Ohio. As a result, my truly outstanding nut is still in hiding, and I am waiting for a good season to bring it out.
Another disappointment with me has been the Carpathians. They partially winter-kill each winter. Their trunks still live and send up shoots. I let them stand, hoping for an eventual hardening of the wood. I regard them not as failures but as not yet proven.
For purely experimental purposes I planted apple and peach trees close up to the walnuts. Whichever won out was to stay. Both are there yet. There is as yet no sign of the results of toxicity. They stand, literally, arm in arm.
One success I feel may safely be chalked up. In selecting seed for my original planting, some were chosen for better nuts, as stated, and some because of the magnificent growth of the parent trees. One such tree gave me seedlings that are definitely superior in growth to other trees which stand in equally good soil—in fact, in adjoining rows. This is noteworthy.
As for the seed selected for nut quality, because of the three poor producing seasons now past, the result is not so apparent. I can only say that, out of some score or more sources, the nuts produced upon such seedlings as have fruited tend to resemble the qualities of their parents. They all show some variations. Each nut tree is a new individual but with a family inheritance strongly enough marked to make the planting of seedlings, when done in large quantities, from the best parents, a sort of gamble in which the percentage is in favor of the gambler—which is, as you should know, unusual.
One utterly complete failure must be noted. I shall never again plant a black walnut seed or tree in any but good soil. Even the best inheritance cannot prevail against hardpan or worn-out soil.
I was unfortunate, when I made my first and largest planting of seed, in not knowing about the Northern Nut Growers Association. So I advertised for local nuts, paying double for the seed I accepted. So far as the seed which was selected because of the timber growth of the parent tree was concerned, I am well satisfied. But nut quality was only fair; far below the quality of our named varieties. Then, through the fine missionary work of Harry Weber, I was introduced to the NNGA. All my replanting since then has been from seed bought from the member's plantations. Next year I expect some of them to come into bearing.
Most of you are chiefly interested in grafted or budded trees, and this is as it should be. Where sure results and the best possible nuts are the aim, one would be utterly foolish to plant a seedling. Upon the other hand, where plantings are made in great quantities, as is the case with foresters, state or federal agencies, colleges and other institutions—and with occasional individuals like myself who find their greatest interest in this particular exciting gamble, I think it is fairly well demonstrated that the percentage of success can be turned in favor of the planter by intelligent selection.
But where can the best seed be found? The answer is as plain as the nose on your face. The best possible source is in existing plantations of named, proven varieties. As a farmer, I should not use a cross-roads maverick when I can use a registered Jersey, Hereford or Angus. As a planter of black walnuts, or any other nuts, either for timber or wood, I should not pick up my seed haphazardly from cross-roads trees. Every nut produced by planters of orchards of the best named varieties should be in active demand by state and national agencies for their own plantings, and the seedlings from them should be available for the widest distribution to the public. This urgent demand for better seed will make existing plantations of proved varieties more profitable and will fill our forests and farms with far better trees.
Nut Trees in Wildlife Conservation
By Floyd B. Chapman Ohio Division of Conservation & Natural Resources
Attesting to our great faith in the value of the nut trees for wildlife conservation and restoration, the Ohio Division of Conservation and Natural Resources has distributed free of charge, to cooperating landowners: 132,000 American hazelnut, 1000 European and American hazel hybrids, 1000 pecans, 1000 butternut, over one thousand shagbark hickory, 1500 Asiatic chestnut, 2000 black walnut trees, and more than 50 bushels of black walnut nuts for seed spotting. This program has only been in operation since 1942, and I think a great deal has been accomplished in spite of the war and difficulties in growing and shipping of nursery stock. This record would not be so impressive had we not been able to take advantage of a vast amount of surplus stock made available when the U. S. Soil Conservation Service closed out a large nursery in this region.
To show how dependent are certain wildlife species on an adequate supply of nut mast, I need only mention one group, the squirrels. Much information concerning the abundance of squirrels in the original forests is on record. It is also well known that nuts of several kinds were always plentiful: native chestnuts, walnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, hickorynuts, and beechnuts. The supply was so large that an occasional crop failure was unimportant; much of the production from the preceding year was still available. Numerous wild animals, including squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and others fed on the native chestnut. It was such an important staple in the diet of many animals that its passing is one of the most devastating blows to befall the wildlife of this continent. In order to compensate for the loss of the chestnut, and at the same time restore some of the food and cover destroyed through pasturing of woodlots, and the removal of fencerow cover in clean farming, the Division of Conservation instituted its popular tree and shrub unit planting project four years ago. In this program, units of 100 or 200 pine trees and shrubs for food and cover are distributed free of charge to farmers who will plant them as suggested and protect them from fire, grazing, and cultivation. American hazelnut was extensively used in this project during the first two years. Since then we have been unable to obtain seedling plants in the large quantities that are needed.
The Division also has several other wildlife restoration projects in which the nut trees are utilized. These are a farm pond project, a small wildlife refuge program, and a fencerow cover restoration proposition. In the pond development program, a farmer is assisted in impounding a small body of water, from which livestock is fenced, if he will agree to permit hunting on a portion of his farm. The pond margins are seeded to a grass mixture to prevent soil erosion and silting, and several hundred trees and shrubs having value as wildlife food and cover are planted in the area. The land immediately surrounding the pond becomes a wildlife refuge where no hunting is permitted. Many Asiatic chestnuts have been planted on these sites, in addition to American hazelnuts, and considerable seed spotting with black walnuts has been accomplished.
In the small refuge plan, areas are selected, developed for wildlife by planting and other management measures, and are then closed to hunting for a period of years. Many hazelnuts, butternuts, some hickorynuts, walnuts and Asiatic chestnuts have been used in this work. Our own field men plant the seedlings or assist the landowner in planting them, then give advice on the culture of the plants.
In the third undertaking, which is research to determine the best methods of restoring or developing fencerow food and cover strips; nearly a thousand hazelnut hybrids have been planted. Among these hybrids are: Barcelona x European Globe, avellana x Italian red, Barcelona x purple aveline, Barcelona x Cosford, Barcelona x Italian red, Rush x Kentish Cob, and Barcelona x various other types. The better sorts of hazelnuts have been used in this project to familiarize the farmers with them so that they will have an incentive to grow something valuable in fencerows. We have found that most farmers will not listen to the argument of growing anything in fencerows purely for the benefit of wildlife. By using a more subtle, convincing, and practical approach, we are convinced that success will be attained and that wildlife will be benefitted in the end.
In addition to these projects which are of a statewide nature, the Division of Conservation owns some 14,000 acres of game lands on which experimental plantings of nut trees have been made. From plantings of Chinese chestnuts established in 1941, we are now beginning to realize definite returns. On the Zaleski State forest game area, one of these trees, now about 6 feet high, is bearing 21 burs this year. In connection with a squirrel research problem, one of our field men, Robert Butterfield, is carrying on some experiments in fertilizing nut and other trees which should yield some very valuable information. I recently saw a plot of Castanea mollissima which had been treated with a 33-1/2% nitrogen fertilizer. Planted on poor, acid, eroded soils in the hill country, these have barely survived. After treatment, the yellow, stunted foliage changed miraculously to a striking dark green, the leaves grew larger, and the entire plants showed every evidence of healthy growth. It has been suggested that interplanting chestnuts with black locust might have the same beneficial effect and we intend to try it.
None of us has ceased to hope that some day the blight which has stricken our native chestnuts can be conquered. We can be assured that whenever a resistant variety of chestnut does originate in the wild, squirrels will find it and give it widespread distribution. In Ohio, squirrels are still proficient in locating the few sprouts that are fruiting, burying the nuts and forgetting them in the woods each year, with the result that we always have a few seedling trees coming on. Last spring, I found several bushels of chestnut burs cached in a sandstone cave in southern Ohio by woodrats.
The States which are most interested in the nut trees from the standpoint of wildlife are usually those in which squirrels or wild turkeys are important game species. If those who are growing nut trees commercially would concentrate their efforts in these states which extend from Pennsylvania to Missouri and throughout the south, I think they would be helping themselves and contributing in an important measure to wildlife conservation and recreation. I think many States, and I know this is true of Ohio, would like to introduce some of the better named varieties of walnuts, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nut trees to the landowners of the State through conservation projects which I have described, but the cost is thus far too prohibitive for stock which is distributed by us free of charge. I am personally interested in the fine program of nut tree research which is being initiated in Ohio and elsewhere. The hill culture experiments are especially interesting and valuable. However, I believe every grower should give increasing attention to the possibilities of nut trees in conservation, to the end that better and more prolific varieties can be made available for this purpose. States which can use good nut tree stock in their conservation work should be solicited, their interest aroused in plantings for the dual purpose of home use and wildlife, and a few select varieties sold or given to them each year for experimental use. Some growers are already generous in releasing a few new and promising nut tree varieties for trial growing in various sections of the country.
Most Conservation departments are financed on an annual basis with funds from hunting and fishing licenses. This prevents our knowing from year to year exactly what our requirements are going to be in the line of planting material. Such stock cannot be contracted for even one year prior to purchase. We have no Division-owned nursery for propagating game food and cover plants, and nearly all hardwood stocks are purchased from commercial nurseries. Most states prefer to purchase nursery stock that is grown locally, and if nut growers could succeed in lining up their own state conservation departments, I am sure that they could expand their production to furnish the stock needed, both at a profit to themselves and at a price we could afford to pay.
Commercial Aspects of Nut Crops As Far North As St. Paul, Minnesota
By Carl Weschcke, St. Paul, Minnesota
For the benefit of those new members who are not familiar with my nut tree plantation at River Falls, Wisconsin, I wish to explain its geographical conditions. Situated in the 45th parallel, longitude 92-1/2 deg., about 860 feet above sea level, this is a very severe climate for growing most species of nut trees. Fortunately, I did not realize that fact 30 years ago, and I learned a great deal about the hardiness of many species and varieties and the difficulties of growing them before I was convinced of it. My optimism in those years so ruled me that I was influenced by it to try out such tender species as almonds, English walnuts, filberts, pecans and chestnuts, along with hardier types such as butternuts, black walnuts, hicans, hickories and hazels.
To give you a rough idea of the testing I did, I will mention some of my work among hickories. I was fortunate enough to have a forest of bitternut trees on my land. It is a well-known fact that, at least temporarily, these bitternut hickories lend themselves well as grafting stock for many superior varieties of hickories, hicans and pecans, although the last species seldom is considered permanently compatible with bitternut. The number of varieties I tested on bitternut stock is roughly about 75. During the years since I started such grafting, most of these have been lost by natural elimination, lack of hardiness or incompatibility. Those varieties which on my place have proved hardy and compatible with bitternut stock for at least ten years are: Bridgewater, Cedar Rapids, DeVeaux, Glover, Kirtland, and Weschcke. Those which have endured well on this stock for from 6 to 15 years are: Barnes, Davis, Fox, Leonard, Milford, Netking, Platman, and Taylor. Among hybrids which have stood for 10 years or more, there are: Beaver, Burlington, Laney, Pleas, and Rockville. Of pecan, there are Hope and Norton. There are a few other survivors of whose identity I am not certain, as they have not yet fruited. This does not mean that all of those listed have borne, but only that the identity of some of the survivors can not be established without such verification.
Preeminent among the hickories which have produced nuts, stands the Weschcke variety, which has borne the greatest quantity with the most regularity. This variety, grafted on bitternut in 1932, produced one nut that year. Its bearing record has been unbroken from then to 1946, when, on May 11, the temperature dropped to 26 deg.F and on May 12, a similar, low temperature was accompanied by four inches of snowfall. Pictures I have on display verify these statements. The frost at that time destroyed the whole crop in a nearby 30-acre orchard of apples, pears, plums, and nuts. Although the first growth of Weschcke was totally destroyed along with the crop, the second growth contained a fair distribution of pistillate flowers which probably would have produced nuts, had they been pollinated. The Weschcke produces no pollen, being one of those curious freaks of nature which aborts its staminate flowers before they reach maturity.
Other hickory hybrids and shagbarks which have borne satisfactory crops on my farm, with fair regularity, are the Beaver, Fairbanks, Bridgewater, Cedar Rapids, Kirtland, Siers and Laney, in the order of their worth. The remaining varieties that I mentioned have not yet fruited, although I hope they will do so.
The facts I have given are my reasons for recommending the Weschcke hickory as a tree suitable for commercial use in the north. I realize, of course, that farther south, where hardiness is not so essential a quality, other trees may be just as satisfactory. I might also mention that the size and cracking qualities of the Weschcke variety are also commendable. The quality of the kernel, which is practically 50% of the total weight of the nut, is praised by all who have tasted it.
It is with great regret that I admit that I have no black walnut varieties which I can recommend for commercial use this far north. However, I would place Ohio ahead of Thomas, because of its greater hardiness. The ease of hulling, the size and appearance of Thomas, plus its productivity, would certainly place it first were it not for the frequent winter-killing it suffers, to which Ohio, of course, is not completely invulnerable. Other varieties which have been fairly satisfactory but which are not as well-known, include Patterson and Rohwer. The fact remains, however, that not one black walnut I have tested has produced a regular and satisfactory crop, although they have been more productive than native butternuts. At present, I would rule out both species as apparently having no commercial value in the northern climate where my plantation lies, although they may be satisfactory for home orchards.
Before leaving the hickories, I do want to mention that I feel there is a good chance for growing pecans in this climate. I have seedling trees, now more than 20 years old, which are in bearing but do not mature their fruit. It is possible that some of these may become acclimated to an extent that their cycle of dormancy will reduce itself, bringing their period of flowering early enough in the spring to allow sufficient time and heat units for maturing the nuts.
Early in my experimental work, I tested chestnuts and chinkapins but met with poor results. Only in the last few years have experiments with them been successful enough to warrant their being mentioned as commercial possibilities in the north. At present, I have several Chinese and two American varieties, as well as one chinkapin, which have proved hardy and fruitful. Further testing is necessary before I can report anything definite about them.
I have grafted on native plum stock most of the almonds which have been considered hardy, including the hard-shelled varieties from Michigan and the Northland from the Pacific Coast. Some have flowered but none have set nuts. All proved too tender for our climate. I feel more hopeful for success with some of the many seedling hybrid plums I am growing. A number of these have edible kernels and the trees could be considered for their fruit as well as for the kernels of their seeds.
Among other species of walnut I have tested is the heartnut, which is a sport of the Japanese walnut. This is a worthy nut and has done well when grafted on black walnut stock. Only two varieties have proved hardy and only one of these, Gellatly, has produced good crops for a long time. Were it not for the insect pests which attack it and, worse still, the sapsucker, this tree might be considered for semi-commercial use in the north. The sapsucker is a woodpecker. It chips out bark right down to the wood, girdling large limbs and killing whole sections of a tree. This results in an excessive amount of succulent, tender growth which is subsequently winter-killed. Insects attack the new shoots, laying their eggs in the bud and stem portions, causing immature growth which stunts the tree and prevents its bearing. I have also found the heartnut difficult to graft, even on black walnut, which is a favorable combination.
I began testing Persian walnuts 30 years ago by grafting them on wild butternut stock. Although many grafts were successful, not one even lived through a winter. It was not until 1937, when I grafted hundreds of trees with thousands of grafts of the many varieties of Crath importations from the Carpathian Mountains, that I succeeded in getting any to survive our winters. A few eventually bore nuts, but the severity of our winters and the inroads of new insects during the war years finally proved fatal to them. I made strenuous attempts to save the varieties by regrafting, but I was wholly unsuccessful. Right now, I am not at all hopeful that Persian walnuts of any kind can ever survive very long this far north.
We now come to the last group of species mentioned at the beginning of this report, namely, filberts and their hybrids. In my opinion, these have potentialities of commercial value in the north. Even the frosts of May 11th and 12th this year (1946) did not wipe out the crops which had been set. With proper pollinization, I am certain that their production will become as reliable as the corn crop in this part of the country. At the banquet, I shall give each of you a sample of a new product made from these nuts.
The combination of qualities of the cultivated filbert from Europe and our wild Wisconsin filbert results in an extremely hardy plant, with characteristics sometimes like the former, sometimes like the latter. Many times, the hybrid combines the best of each. I am testing these for field culture, to be cared for much as corn is. I expect to have three experimental farms before very long, demonstrating the success of commercial orchards of these hybrids which I call "hazilberts." "Hazilberts" is a word I coined by borrowing from the names of its parents. It has been readily accepted by the lay public and is easily understood to refer to hybrids between hazels and filberts. Furthermore, I was able to obtain a U. S. trademark on this for application to these plants.
Hazilberts are all subject to the native hazel blight, Cryptosporella anomala, a fungus infection. They are also susceptible to another blight similar to the bacteriosis of the Persian walnut. More serious than these, though, is the damage caused by a curculio, which cuts down heavily the production of nuts if measures are not taken to combat them. Breeding has demonstrated that some hybrids are so resistant to the inroads of this pest that they may almost be considered immune, especially when they are interplanted with other hazilberts which do attract curculios and so act as trap-plants. In this way, the insects are encouraged to concentrate in one place where they may be poisoned, thus protecting the main-crop plants. Since pollinators are required for filberts anyhow, the pollinators may be the trap-plants. This is actually the case in the initial plantings. Clean cultivation will also do away with many of the curculios, since they depend on unbroken soil in the fall for their metamorphosis.
The presence of blight makes it unwise to depend on a single-trunked tree and I find that great productivity can be maintained when the plant is allowed to grow in stools having from three to five trunks. The management of such plants is like that of raspberry bushes, except that instead of thousands of plants per acre to be cared for, with hazilberts there are only 145, 15 x 20 feet apart.
Judging by the number of nuts on small plants, one may reasonably expect crops to average one-half ton of nuts per acre. The hybrids I have grown so far have been self-husking. The size of their nuts is good, some measuring an inch in diameter. For commercial purposes, however, the large size is not particularly desirable nor necessary.
In conclusion, I want to say that there is a very promising situation developing for these nuts commercially. Not only are these hazel-filbert hybrids easily planted, but they are easy to propagate, since they are one of very few species of nut trees which are easily propagated by layers and root sprouts. Out of more than 600 hazilberts which I planted in the fall of 1945, only about a dozen were dead in June of 1946, which gives you a practical idea of the ease and safety of transplanting them.
The 1946 Status of Chinese Chestnut Growing In the Eastern United States
By Clarence A. Reed U. S. Plant Industry Station, Beltsville, Maryland
The Chinese chestnut, Castanea mollissima, now dominates interest among well-informed chestnut planters of the eastern United States almost to the exclusion of other species. Since its introduction in 1906, it has had but one important competitor, the Japanese chestnut, C. crenata. Among the world's most important producers of tree chestnuts, only these two species are effectively resistant to blight. However, the Japanese chestnut lacks the palatability to which Americans are accustomed and for all practical purposes it has been rejected in this country. Many small plantings still survive; but this species serves better for shade and ornamentation than for food production.
Description of the Chinese Chestnut
The nut of this species is usually of good size, roundish in form, not pointed at the apex, and with the basal scar smaller than the lower end of the nut. A certain amount of gray down is on the surface. This down may be confined to a small area about the apex or it may cover much of the upper end of the nut, and it may be thick, thin, or scant. The nut may have good cleaning quality, meaning that the kernel and its pellicle are easily separated. Cleaning quality may be good from the time the nut falls from the tree or it may become so only after curing for a time. Once it develops it may remain good as long as the kernel is usable or it may last for a short while only. In texture and in palatability, the kernel of the Chinese chestnut is not excelled by any other true chestnut. Individual nuts are sometimes sweet from the first but the great majority become so only after being cured for a week or 10 days. Very few nuts of the pure species fail to be sweet when fully cured.
In the open the Chinese chestnut tree attains much the same size and general proportions as does the apple but it may become somewhat larger, more upright and considerably taller. Young seedlings vary greatly in form and are often ungainly and unsymmetrical; but others are all that could be desired with respect to symmetry. Early lack of symmetry tends to become less objectionable as the tree grows older and is seldom conspicuous after the first decade or so.
In fruitfulness, many of the seedling trees of bearing age are definitely disappointing. Also in many cases the nuts are small. To judge the species by the past fruiting performance of a majority of its representatives in this country would leave little justification for commercial hope. However, there are a good many individual trees about the country whose performance record is excellent and a large number of these are under careful observation as potential varieties.
The species has gained rapidly in popularity since the middle 'thirties when enough good-performing trees began bearing for a fair appraisal of the species to be possible. It was also at about that time that trees for planting began to be available from the nurseries. Before then trees could only be had in limited numbers from the Department of Agriculture. Today, they are listed in nursery catalogues of one or more firms in each of a half dozen or more states. The total number of trees yet planted is comparatively small and both nurserymen and planters up to this time have proceeded cautiously because of the newness of the industry and its uncertainties.
The Chinese chestnut requires much the same conditions of climate soil, and soil moisture as does the peach, but there are indications that it will succeed somewhat farther both north and south. As with the peach air drainage must be good and frost pockets must be avoided, for while at the latitude of the District of Columbia, the flowering period is from late May until toward the end of June, growth begins early and may be badly damaged in April. This is especially true during such seasons as those of 1945 and 1946 in the middle Atlantic States when summer temperatures prevailed during a great part of March, and new shoot growth up to two inches had developed when sub-freezing temperatures killed all new growth and so injured the buds that at Beltsville, Maryland, and general vicinity there were no crops in either year. In some cases young trees were killed out-right as were occasional older trees that had become devitalized in some way.
Young trees are so sensitive to lack of soil moisture that sometimes whole plantings are killed by drought. Spring growth is rapid as long as the soil is moist but root development is shallow during the first few years and, unless watered, trees are likely to fare badly in case of prolonged drought. Another serious type of injury, especially to newly planted trees, is sunscald on the exposed sides of the trunks. Probably the best means of prevention is to head the trees low enough to provide for shading by the tops.
It is said that at the altitude of 2200 feet in West Virginia, snow and ice frequently cause much injury to young trees. It is a notable characteristic of the species for young trees to retain their leaves during much of the winter. Unless these are removed soon after turning brown, they are apt to become heavily weighted with wet snow and to cause severe breakage. Hail and spring freezes also cause much damage in that locality. The last, however, is not peculiar to high altitude alone as frost injury is frequent at much lower elevations. It was generally in evidence in central Maryland during the springs of 1945 and 1946 as has already been mentioned. This type of injury is easily overlooked, but the cambium will be found dark if a cut is made through the outer bark. Recovery usually takes place rapidly if the injured trees are left undisturbed, but healing will be slow if they are dug up for transplanting or the tops are severely cut back in preparation of the stock for grafting.
[Footnote 1: Verbal statement by Mr. Authur Gold, of Cowen, W. Va., made during April, 1946.]
Young trees may bear a few nuts three or four years after being transplanted, but it usually takes from 10 to 12 years for tops to become large enough to produce profitable crops. While there are occasional trees that become profitable at these ages, there are many that do not. The only significant record of yields yet made public is one reported by Hemming. His statement shows that 18 seedling trees planted in 1930 bore an average of 29.5 pound (green weight) during six of the eight years from 1937 to 1944, inclusive, when crops were large enough to be separately recorded for each tree. The range in total production per tree for the six years was from 106 to 277 pounds. At an arbitrary price of 25 cents a pound, the average gross return per tree would have been $7.39 for each of the six crops. The 1944 crop was a practical failure. That of 1946, amounted to about 1000 pounds, or an average of about 55 pounds per tree.
[Footnote 2: E. Sam Hemming, Easton, Md., "Chinese Chestnuts in Maryland," Ann. Rep't., Nor. Nut Growers Association, Incorporated, vol. 35, pp. 32-34. 1944.]
The Seedling Tree
The original planting stock of the Chinese chestnut as grown in the United States consisted wholly of seed nuts imported direct from the Orient. It was therefore, inevitable that a period of seedling development should follow. The great majority of the earliest trees grown proved unfit for use as potential varieties, although with some exceptions, they produced nuts that were sweet and palatable. Since the middle 'thirties, superior strains have been introduced, cultural and environmental requirements have become better understood, and the outlook for commercial orchards is much improved.
To a great extent the seedling has served as well as would a grafted tree for the pioneer experimental work that had to be done. It has been far better than no tree at all and even now it has its advantages. With it there is no expense for grafting, no problems of congeniality between stock and scion and those of cross pollination are held at a minimum. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that it is only from seedling trees that superior varieties are possible. In 1946, the year in which this paper is being written, very few grafted trees are available from any source.
The Grafted Tree
The first varietal selections were made in 1930. Quite unavoidably they were chosen solely by what could be judged from the nuts with no knowledge of the bearing habits of the parent trees. These were first grafted in 1932 and first catalogued in 1935. Already by 1946, some had been supplanted by others of greater promise. Few grafted trees have been brought into bearing and with minor exceptions, it has not been possible to obtain bearing records. It is, however, mainly with the grafted tree that the future of the industry is expected to be built up.
This variety was first catalogued in 1941 by Carroll D. Bush, then a nurseryman at Eagle Creek, Oregon. Of the very few trees of this variety sold by him, one went to Mr. Fayette Etter, Lemasters, Penna., with whom it early became a favorite among 7 or 8 he had under test. During 1945, he sent a quantity of Abundance chestnuts to Dr. J. Russell Smith, Swarthmore, Penna., who in turn forwarded 12 specimens to the Plant Industry Station. These arrived October 11 and were immediately placed in a refrigerator. On October 22, they averaged 50 to the pound and ranged from 38 to 76. The appearance was very attractive as the color was a rich brown and there was very little down over the surface. The cleaning quality was also very good and the flavor excellent.
The Abundance has attracted considerable attention and, while it does not appear to be listed in any nursery catalogue, a number of leading growers are using it in top working seedling trees and it may soon be available through regular nursery channels.
The Carr chestnut originated as one of two seedlings sent by the Department of Agriculture in 1915 to the late R. D. Carr, Magnolia, N. C. Sixty-two nuts from Mr. Carr were received by the Department in 1930. These were not especially attractive as the surface was thickly coated with gray down. The lot averaged 58 per pound and the nuts were considered large. Cleaning quality was very good and the flavor was sweet and pleasing. The variety was immediately named in honor of Mr. Carr although propagation did not begin until 1932. It is believed to have been the first variety of the species ever grafted in this country. The work was performed by H. F. Stoke, Roanoke, Va. Later the Carr became available for several years from a number of nurseries. It was a strong grower but often failed to make good unions with its stock and is not now in general favor.
This also originated as one of two seedling trees sent to a private grower by the Department. He was Mr. James Hobson, Jasper, Ga., in whose honor it was named in 1930. It was later taken up by commercial nurserymen and widely distributed for several years. It has much in its favor as it is easy to graft, precocious, prolific, annual in bearing, and the nuts are very sweet. Also, the cleaning quality is very good, but the nuts are too small to meet market requirements of this country to best advantage. Furthermore, being small, they are expensive and time consuming of labor at time of harvest. The average per pound for a lot of 110 nuts received in 1930 was 78. Others received during later years were even smaller. The variety rapidly lost favor with most nurserymen and its propagation was largely if not entirely discontinued. However, for home use, it is much to good to be abandoned at this time.
Reliable was an introduction of H. F. Stoke, Roanoke, Va., by whom it was propagated for a short time only, beginning in 1938. It is not known to have been catalogued by any other nurseryman. Ten fresh nuts in 1939 averaged at the rate of 79 to the pound. Six days later, after further curing had taken place, the number became 101 to the pound. Aside from having a good bearing record, there appears to be little reason for continuing this variety.
This variety appears to be the result of a natural Chinese-Japanese cross. The original tree was grown by H. F. Stoke, Roanoke, Va., whose attention was attracted to it because of its habit of maturing early. He reports that in southwestern Virginia, burs often begin opening during the third week of August. In appearance, the nuts greatly resemble pure Japanese. The parent tree bears well but the nuts are lacking in good quality. Insofar as known propagation has been discontinued.
Yankee (Syn. Connecticut Yankee)
The Yankee originated as a chance seedling on property of E. E. Hunt, Riverside, Conn. It was first propagated by Dr. J. Russell Smith, Swarthmore, Penna., in northern Virginia by whom it was first catalogued in 1935. The writer has seen no specimens but according to Dr. Smith, the size and other features are very good. The parent tree is said to bear well and to be hardy where it is located, which is not far from Long Island Sound in the extreme southwestern corner of Connecticut.
This originated as a 1930 selection made by the late Dr. G. A. Zimmerman, Linglestown, Penna. Very few sound nuts of Zimmerman have ever been produced, for soon after the first crop the identity of the tree became lost and eventually it was destroyed together with others in an overgrown nursery row where it stood. In one known case where there are grafted trees of bearing age, the nuts are regularly destroyed by weevils. Such nuts as have been seen by the writer have been of a dull brown color and have had surface down only about the apex.
The Zimmerman was first catalogued in 1938-39 by Dr. Smith. It is probable that as many trees of this variety have been sold and planted as of any one variety but performance records are difficult to obtain.
Other varietal selection are being made, mainly by the Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering from trees at its various field stations. Some of these are already under test as grafted stock in various parts of the country. The most promising will be released to commercial nurserymen as soon as their superiority over existing varieties is established.
There is much evidence that chestnut pollen is largely carried by insects although this has not been fully established. The Chinese chestnut is largely, although apparently not wholly, self sterile; more than a single seedling or grafted variety should be included in any planting. Several seedlings or several varieties would be better. In seedling plantings, all trees that produce inferior nuts should be removed in order to avoid danger of undesirable pollen influence, either on nut characters, or on the genetic makeup of the embryos if the nuts are to be used as seed.
Harvesting and Curing
Chestnuts should be harvested daily as soon as some begin to ripen and drop to the ground. They should be placed at once on shelves or in curing containers with wooden or metal bottoms through which the larvae of any weevils with which the nuts may be infested cannot penetrate and reach the ground. In areas of infestation, these grubs soon begin to bore their way out of the nuts and leave conspicuous holes in the shells. All infested nuts should be promptly burned.
In order to cure chestnuts to best advantage, they should be spread thinly on floors, or on shelves, or in shallow containers as just described, and held in a well-ventilated room. They should be stirred frequently and held for from 5 to 10 days depending both upon the condition of the nuts and the atmospheric conditions at the time of harvest: During the period of curing, the nuts will shrink rapidly in weight and the color will change materially. Both luster and brightness will largely disappear and, although still attractive, the nuts will quickly become dull brown. Three weeks is about as long as Chinese chestnuts usually remain edible without special treatment.
Chestnuts should be marketed as promptly as possible both to minimize deterioration and to take advantage of good prices which are usually highest early in the season.
Chestnuts in sound condition when stored may be kept fit for eating or planting for several months by any one of several methods. When available, cold storage with temperatures somewhat above freezing is the simplest and generally the most satisfactory method. Stratifying method. Stratifying in a wire-mesh container buried deeply in moist but well-drained sand is very satisfactory and successful. Another method is to hold the nuts in a tightly closed tin container either in a refrigerator or in cold storage at 32 deg. F. Burying under a porch or in the shade of a house or even in a bin of grain, preferably wheat or rye, is also a good method. Regardless, however, of temperature or other conditions, germination is likely to begin in early March and nuts intended for planting should be hastened into the ground as promptly as possible after that time.
The two chestnut weevils are the principal insects attacking the nuts. These are exceedingly well-known in certain large areas where the chestnut is grown and in these areas both are often extremely abundant. Unless checked in some way they often render whole crops unfit for use. One of most effective means of control is to plant trees only in well populated poultry yards; however, in large developments, this is impracticable and other methods must be employed. In preliminary work carried on by the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine at Beltsville, DDT has given very encouraging results in the control of the weevil. The weevils have sometimes been called curculios, under which name they were well discussed by Brooks and Cotton. The Japanese Beetle is also a serious pest as chestnut leaves are among its favorite foods. Control methods have been given by Hadley. Another insect pest which feeds on the leaves is the June bug or May beetle. It works mainly at night and feeds on the newest leaves. It is seldom seen and usually disappears about the time when the operator becomes aware of its presence.
[Footnote 3: Fred B. Brooks and Richard T. Cotton, "Chestnut Curculios." U. S. Dept. Agr. Tech. Bul. 180. 1929.]
[Footnote 4: C. H. Hadley, "The Japanese Beetle and its Control." U. S. Dept. Agr. Farmers' Bul. 1856. 1940.]
Blight is the disease attacking the chestnut tree with which the public is most familiar. The Chinese chestnut is strongly resistant although not immune as few old trees entirely escape attack in areas where blight is prevalent. In most cases healthy vigorous trees of this species overcome the disease within a few years after being attacked. The ones that die are usually those that have been devitalized in some way. The nuts are subject to attack by any of several diseases either before or after the harvest. A preliminary report on these has been made by Gravatt and Fowler.
[Footnote 5: G. F. Gravatt and Marvin Fowler. Nor. Nut Growers Ass'n. Proc. 31: 110-113. 1940.]
Present Extent of Planting
With few exceptions the known plantings consist of small numbers of trees about residences. Occasionally there are one or two hundred trees in orchard arrangement. Production is not large and in most cases all sound nuts are either consumed locally or used by nurserymen and others for planting. The quantity that has reached the wholesale market is known to be small although a beginning in that field has been made.
Extensive expansion has not appeared possible in the near future until the 1946 crop was harvested. This was unexpectedly large and a number of tons are known either to have been planted immediately or set aside for planting in the spring of 1947. It is conceivable that annual production of nuts available for seed purposes will increase rapidly. In this case, the extent of planting within the next few years will be entirely a matter of guesswork.
Extensive planting in the early future cannot be considered economically safe for in addition to the usual number of problems that must be solved in establishing any new horticultural enterprise, chestnut growers must expect keen competition with imports from both Europe and Asia. At the outbreak of World War II, an average of more than 16 million pounds of chestnuts were yearly being imported into this country. These imports will doubtless again appear with the return of normal international relations.
[Footnote 6: Computed from Table 541, p. 413, Agricultural Statistics 1938. U. S. Dept. Agr. 19]
Furthermore almost an exact half-century ago, the chestnut outlook was regarded as being so bright that it could hardly go wrong. During the middle and late 'nineties extensive chestnut developments were established in certain eastern districts mainly by use of Paragon and other varieties of European parentage. Thousands of small plantings were developed about home grounds and occasionally there were large orchards. The greatest developments were conducted by top working suckers that sprung up from stumps of native chestnut trees on cutover mountain land. Hundreds of acres were handled in this manner. Without exception, all ended in financial disaster.
The nut of the Chinese chestnut is an excellent product. It is unexcelled in sweetness and general palatability by any other known chestnut. The tree bears well and is about equally as hardy as the peach. It appears to require much the same conditions of cultural environment as does that fruit. It is practically the only species of chestnut now being planted by informed growers in the eastern part of the United States.
It is thus far grown in this country almost entirely as seedling trees. Variation is about what was to be expected, with the majority of bearing trees proving to be poor producers and, in most cases, with nuts too small to sell well.
Varietal selections of much promise are being made; the first appeared in 1930 and were first catalogued in 1935. Some of the earliest have already been dropped as their defects came to be known, and others of greater apparent promise have originated. The process of selection is constantly going on and further introductions should shortly appear.
By taking certain simple steps chestnuts in sound condition may be kept in usable condition for many weeks.
The Chinese chestnut is subject to attack by certain serious natural enemies. These include both insects and diseases and the tree as well as the nuts are affected. However, all that are now known appear controllable.
Past planting has been largely limited to small numbers of trees mainly about residence grounds. The total number of trees available for planting has never been large, due chiefly to the scarcity of seed nuts needed for nursery use. Production, however, rose sharply with the harvest of the 1946 crop which was unexpectedly large. Annual production may continue to increase since the number of trees of bearing age is likely to become appreciably greater each year. Nursery planting is likely to be proportionately greater. The extent of future planting will doubtless be correspondingly influenced.
Present enthusiasm over the Chinese chestnut is very great and it is possible extensive planting may soon take place. It is believed, however, that this would be unwise from an economic point of view. There are many uncertainties in connection with the industry in its present state of development, and, not improbably there will be keen competition in the market with imported chestnuts from both Europe and Asia as soon as international relations become normal.
Bearing Record of the Hemming Chinese Chestnut Orchard
By E. Sam Hemming, Easton, Maryland
Our Chinese chestnut trees have aroused such interest that we are sure the readers of the Proceedings will wish to hear of the large crop harvested in 1946. A year ago an unseasonal spring brought a frost that killed back the six inches of soft new growth. As a result, the 1945 crop amounted to less than 250 pounds. This year the 18 trees produced 1138 pounds, 938 by actual weighing and 200 estimated. This is an average of 63 pounds per tree, with the largest crop of 124 pounds on No. 19, and the smallest on No. 14 of 22 pounds.
These trees are now 18 years old and were unfortunately planted too close. But using a spacing of 30 feet x 30 feet, they would have borne 3000 pounds per acre and if planted 40 feet x 40 feet would have borne 1600 pounds per acre. Figure this crop at 25c a pound and you would get a really high return. This year the price was much better than that, but we planted the crop.
The tree record was as follows: Number 1—38; Number 2—25; Number 3—30; Number 4—52; Number 5—44; Number 6—30; Number 7—42; Number 8—40; Number 9—45; Number 10—58; Number 11—56; Number 12—48; Number 13—58; Number 14—22; Number 15—50; Number 16—80; Number 18—86; Number 19—124; Total of 938 + 200 (estimated) = 1138.
It is also worthy of note, that No. 19 is spaced 30 feet from No. 18 and No. 16 is the same distance from No. 18, while all the other trees are spaced 16 feet apart. An acre of trees like No's. 16, 18 and 19, spaced 30 feet apart, would average 96 pounds per tree or 4200 pounds per acre, a really tremendous crop.
We had one disappointment this year, in that our method of controlling the weevil was not completely effective. To our chagrin we found that, while we were diligently picking the nuts up each day, some of the larvae were escaping through the cotton bags to reinfest the ground. Next year, we will use metal containers and we are sure that will stop them. We will fumigate if necessary. We do not particularly fear the weevil as we are sure that spraying, and fumigation will clean them up; after that proper harvesting should control them. We have heard that the U. S. D. A. has found the use of DDT to be effective. In another county a raiser of hybrid corn seed dusted his corn with DDT by plane, to kill the Japanese beetle, for $3.00 per acre. Surely that method would be adaptable to chestnut orchards to control the weevil.
At the present time we are using our entire crop for seed purposes and this year we sowed 40 to 50 thousand nuts. We carefully grade the seed, not only discarding any infested nuts, but all moldy, split or undersized nuts, so that we get trees grown only from the choicest. By doing this we feel that although the trees are seedling raised, they come from parent trees that are bearing well, and from which all extraneous pollen is excluded so that the customer has a good chance of getting a tree that will bear well.
The seed is sown in the fall, because it keeps better that way and germinates better too, although we have some trouble from a mole-mice combination. The seeds are sown in shallow trenches 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep and back—filled either with sawdust or light soil. On top is mounded a further 4 to 6 inches of soil which is removed in the spring. This reduces damage from freezing and thawing.
We do not doubt for a moment that the Chinese chestnut is here to stay as an important food crop for the United States.
G. H. Corsan, Islington, Ontario
I find the Ohio, Ten Eyck, Stabler, Allen and Wiard black walnuts inferior and unsuitable. The Stabler has only a small crop every five years. Very excellent varieties, I find, come from Thomas seedlings.
The black walnut makes an excellent stock for the Persian walnut in low and slightly damp ground. I bud the Persian on the black during August.
The Japanese heartnut and the butternut x heartnut hybrid can be grafted on black walnut. The Persian walnut when grafted on the black decidedly outgrows the latter. The reverse is the case when Japanese heartnut, Japanese butternut, or hybrids of either are grafted on the black.
So far I have not found one good butternut worthy of naming, but there is one Japanese butternut that grows in clusters of 17 or even more that has a very thin shell; it is the Helmick. I have, however, very many named as well as unnamed black walnut seedlings that are very excellent nuts.
This has been a very cold summer and I cannot state yet as to the maturing of the larger black walnuts, as they require a long season to mature properly. Pecan and hican trees grow well at Echo Valley and the small twigs harden up so that there is never any winter killing but the nuts do not fill well; in consequence I am using the trees as stocks for grafting with good shagbarks. The Weiker hickory ripens nicely with me and I consider it one of the best varieties in every way.
Self-fruitfulness in the Winkler Hazel
By Dr. A. S. Colby University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
To insure fruitfulness in nut plants it is generally recommended that more than one variety of each kind be planted in reasonably close proximity to help in bringing about cross-pollination. Then, with other conditions being favorable, the grower would be more certain of good yields of well-filled nuts.
With specific reference to the filbert, the literature contains references to the effect that provision for cross-pollination is essential. However, one exception is listed. In the report of the proceedings of the 26th (1935) annual meeting of the Northern Nut Growers' Association, D. C. Snyder of Iowa says on page 47, "The catkins of Winkler always come through the winter bright and the variety can be depended upon to bear without other varieties near for cross-pollination."
The writer has been interested in this subject for several years. The question arises; how near were Mr. Snyder's Winklers to other varieties and in what direction with reference to the prevailing winds? It is not known just how far filbert pollen may be carried and still function. A planting of Winkler filberts consisting of about 30 bushes was set on the University Farm at Urbana in 1940. Crops have been borne annually since that time. The planting was isolated from other filberts to the southwest by about one-fourth of a mile.
In an effort to determine whether the variety was self-fruitful, plants were dug in the early winter of 1943 after the rest period was over and reset in the greenhouse. The plants leaved out in January, 1944, and both male and female flowers appeared soon after. The pollen was applied to the pistils both by shaking the branches and by means of a camels hair brush. Nearly all the blossoms set and the nuts carried through to maturity. The experiment was repeated in 1944-45 with the same results.
It is therefore concluded that the Winkler filbert is self-fruitful and may safely be planted alone where climatic conditions are favorable for filbert production.
Hickories and Other Nuts in Northwestern Illinois
By A. B. Anthony, Sterling, Illinois
I have something like 25 grafted hickories of my No. 1 (Anthony) variety. The largest tree now has a trunk of 5-1/2 inches in diameter; has 20 nuts on it this year; and while it has had but few nuts each year, has missed bearing but one season in the past seven years. Other No. 1 trees run from 3-1/2 inches, in diameter down to about 1 inch. One 3-1/2 inch tree is offering its second bearing with five nuts this season. All these trees were grafted in cutover woodland tracts and moved here except the largest one which was moved in 1930 and grafted in 1933, 30 inches high and never trimmed for a higher head. Heavy annual catkin bloomer, few pistillates so far.
Of my No. 2 variety, one tree transplanted in 1927 now has something like 25 nuts on it. The No. 3 hickories, five of them, have never borne either pistillate or staminate blooms. No. 4 is a hican from the parent tree of which I have had but three good nuts. The weevil moth works so well in dense woods that rarely are the nuts good there. The nuts are attractive and should not discolor like the lighter hickories, should their opening husks get rained upon when maturing.
Men of the future must decide on the merits of these trees. Of the two Hagen trees grafted in 1931, one now has its first nuts, eight in number. I have been told that some one will cut these trees down some day. One of our county or state officials said a short time back that "if hog troubles keep coming on as of late, in 50 years we will not be able to raise hogs." With corn being the main hog food and the corn borer coming, this may come to be quite true, and then perhaps more men will get new vision as to where their meat is coming from.
The past three years have offered almost no hickories at all. Hickories do not like shade, but they have to grow where the squirrels have planted them. Carrying a nut 100 yards to bury it would doubtless be about a squirrel's limit. I have noticed in timber of sizeable growth a north slope showed no young hickories, while a south slope showed a scattering few. Oak trees in this section predominate when it comes to groves of one species. Cottonwood trees come up here and there, probably because their seed is wind-carried. Willow sticks get carried down stream and get lodged, and grow. I have known a few young oaks to come up on my place all of a mile and a half of such woods. How come? It is probably the combination of the blue jay and squirrel, this time. No trouble for the blue jay to travel some distance and put his acorn in a bark crevice of cottonwood or willow tree. Along comes a wandering squirrel, finds the acorn, and if not hungry enough puts in the ground where it has a chance to grow. I have seen blue jays start off with chestnuts and the nearest trees they could reach were willows one-fourth mile or further away.
For some reason there seems to be a tendency for the hickories to bear in seasons when the black walnut does not and the walnut to bear when the hickory fails. Last year, except for filling, walnuts did reasonably well and this year, at least with my Rohwer variety, the yield is still better except that the nuts are unusually small, doubtless because all of July and up to the 9th of August it was very dry.
Throughout my years there have always been walnut trees on the place, first started by a pioneer land owner, then squirrels took it up, so I have a choice of stocks I did not have in hickories.
Two of my Rohwer trees have trunks 12 inches in diameter; one is 11 inches and the other 14 inches in diameter. For years these trees, grafted in 1931, have been very profuse with catkins, but with few nuts. I have heard other complaints of it not bearing.
My complaint with all walnuts grown in Northwest Illinois is that so many kernels turn out black and immature. I am inclined to blame it, in part, to the walnut shuck, which takes in so much moisture. The hickory shuck is much dryer and never has so many immature kernels. Late summer is generally the dryer part of our growing season, which can well be the cause. In the year 1940, we had an excess of moisture in that it rained day after day all through August, and that is the only season I can say we had good walnuts with practically all good, light-colored kernels.
I have a few Thomas walnuts planted on the edges of the lowest flat ground I possess, hoping that they may there get more moisture and produce completely matured nuts.
We had on August 9th about one inch of rain and since that 2-1/2 inches more. So far, throughout this month, I have been carrying about 15 gallons of water daily to two Rohwer trees and hope for some better filled walnuts, though they are unusually small. I am writing this August 24th.
Nut Trees for Ohio Pastures
By Dr. Oliver D. Diller, Wooster, Ohio
Today I would like to discuss for a few minutes the possibilities of nut trees for shade and nut production in permanent pastures on Ohio farms.
One of the most important developments in Ohio agriculture during the past decade has been improvement of pasture land through fertilization, new varieties, and combinations of grasses and clovers, and better methods of management. As one drives over the State it is evident that many farmers practice "clean" agriculture which means clean fence rows and treeless fields. Shade on a hot summer day is an important item to contented cows, so today I am going to plead the case for a cow out on pasture on a sweltering day. I believe that nut trees, particularly black walnuts, can be of real service in the fence rows and the interior of hundreds of permanent pastures in Ohio.
In 1939, L. R. Neel, of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, published an interesting article on the effect of shade on pasture. The results indicated distinct improvement in the carrying capacity of the pastures which had black locust and black walnuts spaced regularly throughout the fields. Improvement was evident both in the amount of Kentucky bluegrass and the pounds of beef produced. So far as I know, no evaluation has ever been made of the direct effect of shade on the contentment and consequent increase in efficiency of cattle for either beef or milk production. I believe this is an important factor and is frequently used as an excuse for woodland grazing.
[Footnote 7: Neel, L. R., 1939. The effect of shade on pasture. Tenn. Agr. Exp. Sta. Cir. 65.]
Another study similar to the one in Tennessee was conducted by R. M. Smith in southeastern Ohio during the period 1939 to 1941. Dr. Smith made an intensive study of the effects of black locust and black walnuts upon ground covers and he found that in poor pastures black walnut trees improved both the species composition and chemical content of the plants growing under the trees. He rated walnut high as an ideal pasture tree because of its period of leaf activity; its light crown canopy; its small, fragile leaves which decompose rapidly, and are high in mineral matter and nitrogen; its deep tap root which competes very little with the surface rooted grasses for moisture and nutrients; its hardiness; and finally its high commercial value.
[Footnote 8: Smith, R. M., 1942. Some effects of black locust and black walnut on southeastern Ohio pastures. Soil Science, Vol. 53, No. 5.]
It seems apparent, therefore, that the introduction of improved black walnut trees into permanent pastures would be practical from the agronomic angle to say nothing about the beneficial effect of shade to livestock and possible income from occasional crops of high quality nuts.
One stumbling block to the adoption of this idea is the protection of the trees during the period of their establishment. The conventional cattle guard with three or four long posts supporting a wire fence is expensive in both labor and materials.
During the spring of 1946 in connection with my forestry instruction at Ohio State University, I had as one class project the planting of 50 black walnut seedlings of selected parentage in the cattle and poultry ranges on the University farm. Thirty of these trees were planted along a fence row at 32 foot intervals and were protected by a single electric wire connected to a battery charger.
The set-up is illustrated in figure 1 which shows the charger at one end of the line and the wire supported by the line posts and a short single post opposite each tree. The one year old seedlings were planted 4 feet from the fence at alternate posts and the wire zig-zagged along the line to create the guards around the trees. Within a few days after planting and completion of the electric guards the trees were mulched to control weeds and conserve soil moisture.
While this experiment has been in effect for only one growing season, the results, to date, indicate that this method is effective in providing protection from livestock. Growth and survival of the trees has been very satisfactory thus far.
The advantages of this method appear to be the rather low cost of labor and materials and ease of installation.
Within the next decade, we should be able to determine how the nuts from these seedling trees compare with the parent tree and there should be adequate shade for all classes of livestock on either side of the fence.
How Hardy Are Oriental Chestnuts and Hybrids?
By Russell B. Clapper and G. F. Gravatt Plant Industry Station, Beltsville, Maryland
One of the questions most frequently asked in regard to the Oriental chestnuts is, will they thrive in a given locality? Broadly speaking, with respect to temperature requirements these chestnuts have been found about equally hardy with the peach. Some strains of the Chinese chestnut appear to be superior to the Japanese chestnut in hardiness.
The Chinese chestnut is more widely planted in this country than the Japanese chestnut and more information has been collected on the hardiness of the former species than of the latter. The Chinese chestnut is growing satisfactorily in certain plantings as far south as Orlando, Fla. and the other Gulf States, northward to the southern tip of Maine, and westward as far as Iowa. But many areas within this large zone are unsuitable for growing Chinese chestnuts because of more severe climatic conditions.
Specific data have been obtained relating to several types of winter injury of Oriental chestnuts and hybrids. This information is limited to the performance of mostly young trees and to a comparatively small number of locations.
The fall freeze that occurred in mid-November, 1940, was studied in detail by Bowen S. Crandall, formerly of this Division. Widespread damage occurred to Oriental chestnuts in the central parts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Temperatures before the freeze had been mild, and heavy rains in early November had broken a drought. On the nights of November 15 and 16, temperatures of 12 deg. and 14 deg. F. were reported by various farmers, and a drop to 20 deg. F. was general on the night of the 16th. The damage to chestnuts by this freeze was increased because of the mild temperatures and heavy rains that preceded the freeze. The chestnut trees were not able to attain complete dormancy. Those trees, however, that were growing on uplands or on sites that were well air-drained suffered much less damage. Apparently equal damage was inflicted to Chinese and Japanese chestnuts.
[Footnote 9: Crandall, Bowen S. Freezing injury to Asiatic chestnut trees in the South in November, 1940. Plant Disease Reporter 27:392-394. October 1, 1943.]
On one farm near Columbus, Ga., four plantings were located at different elevations. The planting at the lowest elevation, maintained as a well cultivated orchard, suffered almost 100 per cent loss from this fall freeze. The trees at the highest elevation, in a forest planting, were practically uninjured. The damage from this freeze varied from killing of buds and shoots to killing of complete trees. Many owners of chestnut plantings did not notice the damage until the following spring. Fortunately fall freezes of this magnitude occur only infrequently.
In the winter of 1944, this Division lost 23 per cent of its hybrids at Glenn Dale, Md., from freezing following abnormally high temperatures. The hybrids had been fertilized in October of the preceding year, but the effect on the extent of freezing damage is not known. The months of November, 1943, through March, 1944, were characterized by extremely variable temperatures. For example, in November a minimum of 15 deg. F. occurred on the 17th, a maximum of 72 deg. on the 19th; in December a maximum of 66 deg. on the 3rd, a minimum of 2 deg. on the 16th; in January a minimum of 8 deg. on the 17th, a maximum of 74 deg. on the 27th; in February a minimum of 11 deg. on the 2nd, a maximum of 72 deg. on the 25th; in March a minimum of 8 deg. on the 10th, a maximum of 81 deg. on the 16th.
The extremes of temperatures in any one of these months may have been sufficient to cause damage to chestnut, although the extent of damage is influenced by the physiological conditions within the tree. The usual type of injury to the hybrids was a killing of the cambial cells extending from the base of the trunk up to varying heights. The cambial region was grayish-black and the inner bark was sappy and greenish-brown. More trees were injured and killed on the lower portions of the plot than on the higher portions.
This catastrophe afforded opportunity to study resistance of the hybrids to freezing. In the lower part of the plot there were several 3-year-old American chestnut seedlings that were not damaged. Sixteen per cent of first generation hybrids of Chinese and American chestnut were killed. Chinese by American backcrossed with Chinese were killed to the extent of 36 per cent. Chinese by Japanese chestnut of the second generation were killed to the extent of 35 per cent.
Despite this extensive killing of hybrids by extreme variations of winter temperatures, older Chinese and Japanese chestnuts on slightly higher ground in the same plot suffered no visible injury. These old trees have rough bark, which may serve as an effective insulator against extremes of temperature. In 1944, there was no damaging late spring frost, and these old trees produced the largest nut crop in their history.
Winter temperatures of -25 deg. F. or lower are usually injurious to Oriental chestnuts. A few reports of chestnuts surviving temperatures of -25 deg. F. have been recorded, but usually Oriental chestnuts do not thrive in those northern States or regions where such temperatures occur.
Many of our cooperators report that late spring frosts frequently cause failure of chestnut crops. Damaging frosts in late spring occur more frequently and over greater areas than early fall frosts or extreme winter temperature variations. A late spring frost in 1945 reduced the chestnut crop at Glenn Dale, Md., from 50 bushels expected to 3 bushels actual. A freeze of 24 deg.F. on the nights of April 4 and 5 was sufficient to inflict this damage after two weeks of abnormally warm weather. Many of the trees were visibly injured, with wilted or dried unfolding buds. Other trees on higher ground were not visibly affected, yet they produced no crops.
Again it was noted that the American chestnut, followed by American chestnut hybrids, sustained none to little damage. The American chestnut, besides its inherent resistance to freezing, leafs late in the spring. Most of the crop of nuts obtained in 1945 was produced by the American chestnut hybrids.
Late spring frosts in 1945 were very extensive, reaching throughout the eastern and northeastern States, and there were practically no chestnut crops. There were also numerous reports of late spring frost injury to chestnut in the Central States.
In order to reduce freezing injury to Oriental chestnuts, it is essential that they be grown on sites that have excellent cold air drainage. As an approximate rule, these chestnuts should be planted on sites similar to those that are best for peaches. The orchard planting is not the only type that is subject to winter injury; forest plantings, ornamental plantings, and plantings for wildlife are also subject to winter injury especially if they are not on the most favorable sites.
Growing Chestnuts for Timber
By Jesse D. Diller Plant Industry Station, Beltsville, Maryland
Before the turn of the century, and even before chestnut blight had swept through our eastern forests, destroying one of our most valuable commercial timber trees, European and Asiatic chestnuts had been introduced. They made variable growth in the Gulf States, along the eastern seaboard from Florida to southern Maine, the southern half of Pennsylvania, southwestern Michigan, southeastern Iowa, down the Mississippi River Valley and on the Pacific Coast. These trees were grown for horticultural purposes, and for the most part, represented large-fruited varieties of Japanese chestnuts. They were not regarded as having forest-tree possibilities for in the open situations in which they were usually planted to insure early fruiting, the trees developed low-spreading crowns, resembling orchard trees. However, after the blight became fully established and it became apparent that our American chestnut was doomed, and that these scattered Asiatic chestnut trees had a natural resistance to this disease, a new interest developed in the Asiatic chestnuts as a possible substitute for the American chestnut.
The interest in and need for resistant, forest-type chestnuts became so great that the U. S. Department of Agriculture imported from the Orient seed of strains that might be suitable for the production of timber, poles and posts, with tannin and nuts as valuable by-products—qualities inherent in our native chestnut. The Division of Forest Pathology, Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils, and Agricultural Engineering has been carrying on the project of testing Asiatic chestnuts as timber trees. Professor R. Kent Beattie of this Division was in China, Korea, and Japan from 1927 to 1930, and collected over 250 bushels of seed for shipment to this Division. The seeds represented four species: Castanea mollissima—the Chinese chestnut; C. henryi—the Henry chinkapin; C. seguinii—the Seguin chestnut; and C. crenata—the Japanese chestnut.
Direct Seeding Studies
At the very beginning of these investigations in growing Asiatic chestnuts as timber trees, it was believed that greater success in establishment could be obtained by planting seedlings, rather than by direct seeding. In direct seeding trials during the early thirties the planted nuts were promptly devoured by rodents. Sixteen years of field experience has proven the soundness of this belief. The imported nuts were planted in the Division's nursery at Glenn Dale, Md., and the resulting seedlings distributed as 1- and 2-year-old trees to cooperators throughout the eastern United States.
In order to thoroughly test the possibilities of direct seeding as an economical method of establishment, this Division during seven years (1939 to 1942, and 1944 to 1946) planted over 7,000 nuts by direct seeding in 200 locations in 18 eastern States. It was suspected that the greatest hazard to direct seeding in or near forests would be rodents. Accordingly, in the spring of 1939 and 1940, 400 nuts and 600 nuts, respectively, were coated with a strychnine-alkaloid rodent repellent, and a comparable number of seeds, for both years, were left untreated to serve as checks. The checks were held in sphagnum moss at Beltsville, Md., and the nuts to be treated were packed in sphagnum moss and expressed to Denver for treatment by the Division of Wildlife Research, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior. Only 5.9 and 2.5 per cent of the treated seeds developed into seedlings, whereas 22.6 and 13.5 per cent of the untreated seeds produced seedlings. Not only did more of the treated seeds fail to germinate than of the untreated seeds, but the seedlings from the treated nuts were less vigorous. Because of the results obtained, the rodent-repellent study was discontinued at the end of the second year.
In 1941 and 1942, over 4,000 untreated chestnut seeds, representing 22 strains, were planted in 12 locations in eight eastern States. The seed source was entirely from American-grown, Asiatic chestnut trees growing in 28 locations in 16 eastern States. They represented Chinese, Japanese, hybrids, and also a limited quantity of American chestnut seed. Seed of the American species was included primarily to determine whether or not it differs from the Asiatic species with reference to establishment by direct seeding. The results for the two years confirmed our earlier beliefs: Only 2.2 per cent in 1941, and 4.0 per cent in 1942, developed into seedlings, of which only a remnant have survived. No species or strain differences were apparent.
"Tin Can" Method
In 1944, the tin-can method was employed in planting 400 nuts in four eastern States. By this method 15.5 per cent of the planted nuts developed into seedlings, representing a fourfold increase over results obtained for the three previous years. One end of a No. 2 can is removed, and a cross is cut in the other end with a heavy-bladed knife. The open end of the can is then forced into the ground, over the planted nut, so that the top lies flush with the ground level. The four corners at the center of the cut top then are turned slightly upward, to allow a small opening through which the hypocotyl of the developing seedling can emerge. The can completely disintegrates by rusting within two or three years, and does not interfere with the seedling's development.
An examination made of the various burrows about the tin cans, and also of the teeth marks on fragments of chestnut seedcoats lying about, indicated that not only squirrels, but other rodents, such as chipmunks, field mice, moles, and even woodchucks were probably involved in the direct seeding failures.
In 1945 and 1946, the tin-can method was tested widely on farms, to determine its possibilities in securing establishment of blight-resistant chestnuts without a great outlay of cash to farmers. In 1945, five seeds were distributed to each of 90 cooperators residing in the Piedmont and southern Appalachian regions, and in the lower Mississippi and Ohio River valleys; and in 1946, to 38 cooperators residing in the Middle Atlantic States. Preliminary results indicate that 40.0 and 37.2 per cent of the nuts planted by the farmers developed into seedlings. It should be pointed out that these results are not strictly comparable with those of previous years, because most of the farmers preferred to plant the chestnuts in their gardens, and under these conditions the nuts were not exposed to the severe competition and the extreme rodent hazards that occur in the forests.
Further proof of the superiority of planting seedling stock over direct seeding as a method of establishment is indicated in the results of an experiment initiated in 1939. One hundred and fifty 1-year-old seedlings and 150 nuts, all of the same Chinese strain, were planted on cleared forest lands in the Coastal Plains, the Piedmont, and the southern Appalachian regions, and in the Middle West. At the end of the eighth year, at each location, establishment and development of those originating from the 1-year-old transplants were better than those originating from seed, and their average survival was six times greater.
Distribution of Planting Stock
During the period 1930 to 1946, the Division of Forest Pathology distributed thousands of Asiatic chestnut seedlings to Federal, State, and private agencies for experimental forest plantings in 32 eastern States. The ten States receiving the most planting stock, in the order named were: North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, and Maryland. The purpose of this seedling distribution was to obtain information concerning the little-known characteristics of the Asiatic chestnuts—their soil and climatic requirements, and their range adaptability.
Selection of Planting Sites
At first the selection of the planting sites was left entirely to the judgment of the cooperators, and most of them assumed that the Asiatic chestnuts have site requirements similar to those of the native American chestnut. Because the American chestnut often occurs on dry ridges and upper slopes, especially where soil is thin and rock outcrops are frequent, the cooperators proceeded to plant the Asiatic chestnuts on similar "tough" sites. They believed that the planting of forest-tree species is justified only on defrosted areas that have reverted to grassland, or worn-out, unproductive agricultural land, or on wastelands—sites that we now know are better suited to the growing of conifers rather than hardwoods. As a result of this unfortunate choice of site selection, together with the several severe drought periods recurring in the early thirties, the cooperators lost most of their trees during the first and second years after planting.
Inspections of some of these planted areas after a lapse of from 10 to 15 years indicated that the sites still support only a scant herbaceous cover, with broomsedge and povertygrass predominating, and with no evidence of native woody species encroaching on the areas. The few surviving Asiatic chestnut seedlings were sickly looking, multi-stemmed, misshapen trees, heavily infected with twig blight and chestnut blight, and severely damaged by winter injury. But despite these heavy losses, a few plantations succeeded at least in part, and from these limited areas, together with an appraisal of the situations where some of the earlier planted chestnuts grew well, valuable information as to the site requirements of the Asiatic chestnut species was obtained.