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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #395585

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Grass and Forage Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Descriptions of chestnut cultivars for nut production in the eastern and midwestern U.S

item REVORD, RONALD - University Of Missouri
item NAVE, MICHAEL - Consultant
item MILLER, GREGORY - University Of Missouri
item MEIER, NICHOLAS - University Of Missouri
item WEBBER, BRYAN - University Of Missouri
item GOLD, MICHAEL - University Of Missouri
item WAHL, TOM - Red Fern Farm

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/12/2021
Publication Date: 10/18/2021
Citation: Revord, R.S., Nave, M.J., Miller, G., Meier, N., Webber, B.J., Gold, M.A., Wahl, T. 2021. Descriptions of chestnut cultivars for nut production in the eastern and midwestern U.S. HortScience. 56(11):1315-1324.

Interpretive Summary: Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) has been grown in the US for the past century as an orchard crop with growing interest in commercial orchard production in recent years. There are over 100 named cultivated varieties of Chinese chestnut in the USA. A small subset of these cultivars and their seedling progeny have proven useful for commercial production and are being grown on over 1,000 farms. Descriptions of over 50 cultivars are provided to inform interested producers.

Technical Abstract: The Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima Blume) and other Castanea species (Castanea spp. Mill.) have been imported and circulated among growers and scientists in the United States for more than a century. Initially, importations of C. mollissima after 1914 were motivated by efforts to restore the American chestnut [Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.], with interests in timber-type characters and chestnut blight resistance. Chestnut for orchard nut production spun off from these early works. Starting in the early 20th century, open-pollinated seeds from seedlings of Chinese chestnut and other Castanea species were distributed widely to interested growers throughout much of the eastern United States to plant and evaluate. Germplasm curation and sharing increased quite robustly through grower networks over the 20th century and continues today. More than 100 cultivars have been named in the United States, although a smaller subset remains relevant for commercial production and breeding. The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry curates and maintains a repository of more than 60 cultivars, and open-pollinated seed from this collection has been provided to growers since 2008. Currently, more than 1000 farms cultivate seedlings or grafted trees of the cultivars in this collection, and interest in participatory on-farm research is high. Here, we report descriptions of 57 of the collection's cultivars as a comprehensive, readily accessible resource to support continued participatory research.