Wild Chestnut Seeds for Sale and Planting Options
We are glad you share our enthusiasm for growing American chestnuts! More and more folks are inquiring about getting chestnuts to plant, probably due in part to the continually increasing publicity about the work of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), and the prospect for blight-resistant chestnuts becoming available for planting in Maine’s forests in the near future. TACF’s chestnut breeding program is progressing and has begun producing potentially-blight-resistant seeds from the breeding research farms in Meadowview, Virginia.
Our breeding program in Maine is progressing (there are satellite breeding programs in 15 states now) and should start yielding Maine-adapted, potentially blight-resistant chestnuts for test plantings in about 5 years from now. We expect that blight resistance will improve during the 2020’s and ’30s, as we refine the populations in our seed orchards, based on the results of our test plantings.
Meanwhile, the Maine Chapter collects wild seeds from several of the remaining native chestnut trees in Maine every year for: research purposes, to supply Fedco Trees, and grow seedlings that we give to volunteers and new members and sell to support our breeding program. The trees grown from this seed will be susceptible to blight, however, we have observed that trees grown in Maine from wild chestnut seeds can thrive for 10-30 years without blight in the absence of other blighted trees. We all want to plant blight-resistant chestnuts ASAP, but with that option still a few years away, planting native-Maine American chestnuts will be a very rewarding alternative for the following reasons:
- They are likely to thrive blight-free at least until blight-resistant chestnuts are available.
- Your 5-10-year-old native chestnut trees can provide an ideal nursery shelter for a planting of blight-resistant chestnuts when they are available.
- Growing inexpensive native chestnuts now will give you the best chance to start testing
the suitability of your sites and learn what is needed to get good growth.
- Growing native-ME chestnuts helps preserve the genetic diversity of our remaining chestnuts.
- On a good site, chestnuts can grow 4 feet in height and 1” dbh per year.
- At 10 to 20 years, your native chestnuts will be producing nuts, poles, and small saw-logs.
Direct seeding in a forest cut can be very successful if you give each seed protection from rodents and birds. Small openings in forest canopy or forest-field transitions are ideal for planting chestnut seeds. The soil must be acidic and well-drained.
Here are your options for planting American chestnuts the spring of 2019:
- Buy native-ME pure American chestnut seeds from the ME Chapter of TACF (click here):
$30 for 10 seeds
$50 for 25 seeds
$100 for 100 seeds
- Help the ME Chapter plant our seed orchards this May, and receive 10 seeds or 2 seedlings of native-ME chestnuts.
- Buy 2-yr-old native-ME chestnut seedlings from Fedco Trees for $22. Fedco buys seeds from the ME Chapter, and gives us $3 from each sale.
- TACF members are eligible to buy pure-American seedlings (very limited supply, see www.acf.org)
- A donation to TACF at the level of $300 or more entitles you to small numbers of potentially blight-resistant American-type Restoration Chestnut v 1.0 seeds. (See Seed Level Membership Details)
- Many commercial mail-order tree catalogs offer hybrid chestnut seedlings that are described as being blight-resistant and good nut producers. These are likely to be mostly Chinese and so would not be well-suited for forest plantings, but could be an interesting addition to a home orchard.
You can apply for membership, indicate your interest in participating in our activities, and order seeds by using the multipurpose application form (click here).