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casualdadeqms t1_j27coxm wrote

Cool article! We maintain a large private American Chestnut nursery, housing just under 300 genetically altered trees. We've been involved for about a decade and it's been pretty cool observing the advancements and having a small role.

Have some pics!


4channeling t1_j28l6lo wrote

Say some permaculture/homesteader folks wanted some to grow, how could they go about that?


casualdadeqms t1_j28rlge wrote

It's an application process that one can qualify for after maintaining state-level conservation contracts for a set amount of time, but it's entirely possible this has changed since our own contracts were established.

We keep contracts in the state of Kentucky for native game grasses and some projects built around the reintroduction of elk and black bear. Both our Fish & Wildlife and Forestry officers brought the project to our attention and served as our recommendations for entry into the program.


ringobob t1_j29vs2e wrote

Curious about the necessity of a contract, is it because the genetics are being closely controlled so you specifically want to avoid this getting out into the wild until you can ensure it won't become too good at out competing other native plant life?


casualdadeqms t1_j2a3v04 wrote

It's a safety and security concern. More centered around protecting the investments in tech, methodology, specific locations, and information in general. It isn't a hypercompetitive, fast growing tree or anything like that. You'd be genuinely surprised at how sensitive they can be to fertilizing.

Edited to note that even maintaining a tract they'll not disclose the specific location to us of many operations, only general areas. There are some secrets required to keep everything safe!


Margali t1_j2a6l6j wrote

Really cool, I have an actual unmodified American Chestnut in my yard [and run through some money every year having an arborist treat it to keep it healthy, at his suggestion we didn't put it on the registry as people have been known to go and 'harvest' cuttings in a nonhealthy way damaging the poor tree] One of my dad's work friends had as his hobby tramping around looking for the trees and bringing back cuttings to husband, he gave us 2 one of which was killed when a car hit it and broke the trunk off.


casualdadeqms t1_j2a8bdt wrote

That is amazing! I've yet to see an unmodified American Chestnut in person because of their *incredible* rarity and find myself jealous! The advice provided you entirely makes sense. The value of the wood probably plays a major role in why they keep the specific locations secret while trying to bring back the population. A single railroad tie of American Chestnut that is in great condition can go for tens of thousands of dollars. The "big" thing about American Chestnut? It stays in great condition for a really, really long time.


Margali t1_j2a93hr wrote

I have a slight underground railroad going handing out nuts for people to grow - keeping them on the east coast and warning them they will have to use an arborist for the fungicide to keep them healthy.


lunchesandbentos t1_j29apkg wrote

I really want to grow chestnuts but most are too big for my suburban food forest.Have been looking at the dwarf ones but not sure how resistant they are to blight. Can the normally larger ones be pruned small and kept small? (Less than 20ft?)


casualdadeqms t1_j29tfmc wrote

I honestly don't know about pruning and am not familiar with dwarf chestnuts. It's something I can ask about the next time we've team on-site, which should be late April-ish. We've simply planted and let grow in our operation with space constraints being of no concern. It's seasonal interaction and largely passive at this point in time.

For what it's worth, when our contract was established there were an estimated 2900-3200 American Chestnut trees. We are told our contract was the largest private one at the time, with an ~1100 tree contract in a Northern US/CAN region being the closest comparable- clearly dwarfing our own.

The pictured trees have since been deemed "obsolete", as they were a run sharing the genetics of a Japanese hardwood, but we still expect 30-40% to survive into maturity and continue to study, monitor, and maintain.

If I understood things correctly, borrowed traits from wheat and strawberries have yielded the outcomes we've all been hoping for.


lunchesandbentos t1_j29zfxo wrote

For a lot of gardeners, space constraints are a huge thing when it comes to whether or not we’d add them… I wonder if genetically modified dwarf ones would incentivize people to add them to their backyards. Either way, thank you for the info and it’s exciting stuff you guys are doing!!!


casualdadeqms t1_j2a55sd wrote

I completely understand the concerns around space and area efficiency in farming (and gardening!!) and it's a conversation that should definitely continue as we strive to achieve our best! As far as dwarf chestnuts go, I would be curious to investigate that as well. We will definitely make it a point to pick the brains of the smart people, as we're just simple farmers with the land to provide some opportunity!


iN2nowhere t1_j26wtgb wrote

If we can plant trees that might one day be as mighty as those in the article's photos, I say yes.


boneman1982 t1_j26z2qx wrote

That's the plan - just need regulatory approval.


CollegeMiddle6841 t1_j27kdph wrote

I signed up and left a lengthy heartfelt comment. Any other plants on the back burner you can talk about?


4channeling t1_j28l9fn wrote

The comment period ended 3 days ago?


JustATiredMan t1_j2alokj wrote

Shows it ends in 27 days for me?


4channeling t1_j2avnvw wrote

Is it November 30th where you are 'cause the site says the comment period ended on the 27th of December.


JustATiredMan t1_j2avyem wrote

The article says comment pwriod is open until Dec 27th but when you click the link it says it ends in 27 days so I dunno.


ayleidanthropologist t1_j280fdq wrote

Now that you mention it, I think I done goofed. I was roasting some of those on an open fire just the other week.


Splive t1_j290f0l wrote

My dad told me stories of how before the chestnut epidemic there were Chestnut trees everywhere from maine to Georgia. A squirrel could travel practically the whole way simply on the branches of the American Chestnut tree.

It would be so cool to get to see even a partial return. Plus chestnuts are frigging tasty!


iN2nowhere t1_j2a6c6t wrote

Can you imagine what the Indians must have seen? The forests, tall grass prairies with gorgeous flowers, buffalo from one horizon to another. We only see glimmers of it now. I am so thankful for the people working everyday to preserve the natural pockets and recapture fallowed lands for nature.


ItsmyDZNA t1_j272f7s wrote

Can we survive in high heat with a lot of these over our homes?

Never understood why we cut trees down when they provide free cooling. Plant them all by anything with people.


Doktor_Earrape t1_j273ytf wrote

Sometimes trees do die, at that point they become giant hazards waiting to crush whatever is underneath it. Only then should a tree be cut down


Bearman71 t1_j28oy63 wrote

Trees don't need to be dead to fall, and when they fall they can and do kill the occupants. After working in emergency storm damage I will never own a house with trees towering over it.


warriorofinternets t1_j29485g wrote

I bought a place with huge ash trees growing over it, and to pay a pretty penny to cut them down but they were already starting to lose limbs and it was only a matter of time.


Bearman71 t1_j294ee7 wrote

Yup shits not cheap, but it gets real expensive when they add a new water feature into your kitchen and insurance denies the claim.


AJ_Mexico t1_j2bi6pw wrote

These chestnut trees are for *forests*, not people's suburban yards.


theluckyfrog t1_j27xedk wrote

Because people are brainwashed, that's why. They see everything natural as a "problem" and something to eradicate rather than encourage.

I'm in the process of putting together an educational event for my city to educate people on the cooling benefits of trees (and to varying degrees, other plants). It's for the private citizens, but if I get an opening I'm going to try to convince the city council that they would benefit from planting trees along the south/west sides of city buildings and lining parking lots, because I feel like urban heat control is an issue people can get behind.


SpotfireVideo t1_j27g3lb wrote

I don't know if I'd want to plant one of those near a house. We have a different variety of chestnuts planted in an urban neighborhood nearby. Those little spikes are not pleasant to touch. Even after the nuts are removed, the broken-off spikes remain. Can't walk barefoot in your yard if they're around.

Plus they are heavy enough that when they fall, they can dent a car. I imagine that they could eventually beat the hell out of a roof, or take out a window if they bounced into one.


Eadbutt-Grotslapper t1_j28lg9f wrote

Because of people “I like trees, but this one has leafs, that go everywhere, and cuts the sun from my lawn”- if I had a a pound for every time I heard that, oh wait I’m an arborist I do…


Gabrovi t1_j27y2l8 wrote

My understanding is that these trees smell awful when they’re flowering. You don’t want to plant them where you’ll smell them.


Spirited-Reputation6 t1_j28kny7 wrote

It’ll change with the season. Reoccurring but temporary. Appreciate the need for O2.


sharksfuckyeah t1_j27tde6 wrote

>Can we survive in high heat with a lot of these over our homes?

Can they survive high heat? What about drought or extreme temperature fluctuations? Because our climate is changing, it might be too late to bring them back.


farinasa t1_j28fq6e wrote

The interesting thing about trees is that they can solve climate change. Simply planting enough trees could be a good enough solution. Combine that with reducing emissions over time and we could cool back down.


sharksfuckyeah t1_j28t0nx wrote

Well it’s a good part of the solution. IIRC you can’t just plant any tree anywhere and many NGO’s have been doing it wrong.


GardenerGarrett t1_j298020 wrote

They ranged from Alabama to Maine. They tolerate a wide range of conditions.


Spiffydude98 OP t1_j26rcyv wrote

Interesting article. Personally I would hope this is a low risk of damage re-introduced plant and I'd love to plant some on my property.


boneman1982 t1_j26z16c wrote

Then do the pubic comment!


Spiffydude98 OP t1_j27fwtt wrote

I'm Canadian and so they probably won't take my opinion anyhow.

If anyone knows of ways to obtain some of these resistant tree saplings they'd grow where I am and would love to get some. They're native to my area of Canada too in fact.


miguelandre t1_j274ak3 wrote

“A USDA/APHIS public comment period is open only until December 27, 2022” wha?


papadjeef t1_j2768my wrote

A little late now. I put in my comments a month ago.


GArockcrawler t1_j2762ki wrote

the only thing that worries me about this article is that I am not likely to live long enough to see any of these new trees grow to match the beautiful specimens pictured in the article.


Curi0usClown t1_j27qui8 wrote

Society would be better if old men planted trees for which they will never see the shade. - some quote somewhere I read.


dynamitemoney t1_j27styd wrote

I feel your pain! It would be so amazing to get to see them grown. But on the other hand to quote an old proverb “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”


PoorFraxinus t1_j29ynf9 wrote

American chestnuts are pretty quick growing trees. A fellow tree nerd has been growing them in Indiana and Michigan, where blight isn't as prevalent. He planted his first trees about 20 years ago and they're already 60ft tall and a foot in diameter.


GArockcrawler t1_j29z58e wrote

This is great news! They sound like poplars, then. I live in the north Georgia mountains on 15 acres, 13 of them heavily wooded. This is likely my forever home. I'd love to add some to the forest here. It would be exciting to see them grow!


CollegeMiddle6841 t1_j27jxof wrote

I live in mountainous West Virginia and I remember finding chestnut trees deep in the mountains in the early 80s. I want some...I want to help too!


DiogenesLied t1_j27dyd0 wrote

I made my comment in favor of the chestnut. It's one gene from wheat, and has been thoroughly tested.


Jack-dickerson t1_j27jp9z wrote

My father use to tell me stories about seeing dead ones when he was a kid. I have always been fascinated by them ever since. Apparently they could grow pretty big.


Fiyanggu t1_j289q4u wrote

I remember reading about this work over thirty years ago. Nice to see it finally coming to fruition. These trees were once a mainstay of hardwood production as well as a food source for animals as well as people. Would be great to see them return.


Realistic-Plant3957 t1_j277hlw wrote

It will be interesting to see how successful this project is and what other species could benefit from similar initiatives.


DiogenesLied t1_j27en3a wrote

The science of it is a success, the modified chestnut resists the blight and passes the resistance on to half of its progeny. They're past the development and testing phases. This is a request for the USDA to approve nonregulated status, meaning it becomes an ordinary tree with no restrictions for cultivation.


andre3kthegiant t1_j27pn1b wrote

Awesome. I hope they provide a free form of a food staple ingredient.


cazdan255 t1_j2948ju wrote

I too listened to the Stuff You Should Know holiday episode! Let’s get these trees back in our forests.


Spiffydude98 OP t1_j29ac36 wrote

Honestly I'd buy dozens of these trees and spread them around my yard and region. I'm in Ontario Canada, and where I am this is a native species so I'd love to get my hands on some. I'd enjoy planting some in the region and also I'd ensure they were well cared for until they were firmly established.


Evilbadscary t1_j2986nf wrote

We have some chestnut on our property that are unfortunately succumbing to blight. I'd be interested in seeing if we could participate.


BitcoinsForTesla t1_j28h2ao wrote

I wonder how the original trees would do now that the climate has shifted? I would think their original range would have changed.


Commentment_Phobe t1_j276nny wrote

Came here for the ‘Biotech Chestnut’ new track.

Anyone wanna hear my MySpace?


johnn48 t1_j27uzja wrote

That’s the dichotomy of bioengineering. To a binary choice of solutions either allow nature to run its course and possible extinction. Or Bioengineer a solution and interfere with the Natural course of events and prevent the decimation of a species. Add Bioethics which is non binary and subjective based on your interpretation and you’ve created a dilemma.


snklkjnqqe t1_j29bqxi wrote

Nature isn't responsible for global commerce, high speed travel, and the dramatic changes to the climate. So we either fix all the stuff we're doing to break the environment or we devise solutions to help nature cope. Both would be nice.


johnn48 t1_j29ec5g wrote

>or we devise solutions

Exactly GMO’s by themselves aren’t bad it’s how they are used and distributed. Too often the “back to nature” crowd aren’t willing to come-up with solutions that are economically feasible and mitigate some of the destructive effects of having 8 Billion people on a planet that’s only designed for 4.5 Billion /s.


gillyyak t1_j2alse0 wrote

> the destructive effects of having 8 Billion people on a planet that’s only designed for 4.5 Billion /s.

"designed". Oy.