Throwing Flames at Chestnut Stumps
By Cathy Mayes, VA Chapter President
When American chestnut hybrids growing in an orchard contract the blight and are cut down, they will re-sprout and re-grow after this happens. So to promote a particular tree, encouraging it to grow faster and stronger, stumps that are close to these healthier trees need to be killed. Because some herbicides travel from one tree to another through their roots, we wanted to stop re-sprouting without using chemicals. Therefore, TACF’s VA Chapter chose to use fire to kill the stumps at Blandy Experimental Farm at the State Arboretum of Virginia.
The first step in the process was to rip up the weed barrier fabric so it wouldn’t catch fire. Second, we cleared dried grass away and exposed the root crown. Finally, we used a propane-fueled flame thrower to burn the stump. It took several minutes on each stump to scorch it thoroughly. We will return in a few weeks to check on whether or not the stumps were completely killed.