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Grafting american chestnut to beech?  RSS feed

 
Maxime bisson
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Location: South of Quebec city, Canada, zone 4
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Hey there!!

Last we bought a rather nice piece of land of 45 hectare, one third of it was used for making hay (the topsoil is very thin in some places with the bedrock often exposed, so not a great land for cultivating, let's say, corn!) and the other two third of it being woodland. In that woodland we have a 5.1 hectare sugar bush, mostly sugar mapple with some red mapple were the ground is to wet for the sugar mapple. Anyway, since the previous owner never really took care of the sugar bush over the last decade (His father was actually the one tending it but when he died, his son never took interest in the woodland so it was pretty much abandoned, he only used it for timber, hiring external contractors for it.) It is pretty much a mess, with balsam fir sapling growing all over the place.

But lets get to the point, there are also quite a few Beech saplings growing here and there. Now, the locals pretty much all told to destroy them and cut every beech that I encounter in my sugar bush, because when they grow they take up a lot of space and kill pretty much everything that is under them. However, I was quite hesitant in doing this, because I didn't want to eradicate species without even knowing if it has any use, so I made a few research, and observed the tree closely.

Turns out, beech can be quite useful!!

It produces Nuts, a very fatty one, with one great harvest every 3 years or so, wich could also be a good source material to graft chestnut since they are from the same family. The main reason I want want chestnut rather than beech, is that chestnut produce an harvest every year, so it is more commercially viable than beech. But my question is, does anyone as any information or experience of american chestnut to beech successfulness, will they live long, are they prone to sickness, should I just go and buy American chestnut/hybrid chestnut seeds? What do you guys think?


Oh, and about Beech usefulness, well aside from producing nuts and being beautiful trees, I realised that if i planted them on the side of my forest roads, when they get tall enough, I wouldn't have to clean my ditches every year or two, plus, when the nuts would fall on the road, it will attract small game for hunting. So, yeah, I will definitely my Beech trees

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes indeed, the beech will support grafts of chestnut. American Chestnut is rather prone to the chestnut blight and that is the main reason most growers have turned to either the European Chestnut or the Chinese Chestnut.
You can use the American Chestnut, just be ready to do re-grafts should they succumb to the blight. Those that survive will be good seed trees and you should take as many of those particular seeds as possible and plant them, then you will have a disease resistant strain that is well suited to your area.

Redhawk
 
Travis Johnson
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I would not do it.

I am not sure about Quebec, but in Maine the rules for growing Chestnut are VERY stringent, and for good reason. They do not want to keep the Chestnut Blight going. For those that agree to grow blight resistant Chestnut's, if the ones they raise and graft do not become Blight Resistant, the MUST be destroyed and only by fire. A family friend does this and its a sad day when 15 years of nurturing and he has to cut them down and burn them.

I know people are well meaning, but if not done properly, they will just make the Chestnut Blight worse.

Again I do not know about Canada, but almost every state in the USA has Chestnut Clubs that promote the growing of Blight Resistant Chestnut. People interested in raising Chestnut should join these chapters, learn from what has already been learned, engage in seed exchanges and work together so that the tree endures. What a wonderful tree...but I think the beech is a nice tree as well.

I am in the process of clearing 30 acres to make a new field and part of it was a beech Ridge. Most of it was diseased beech, but right in the center was a disease-freee massive beech some 60 feet tall and 2 feet thick. I know at some ppoint I will have to cut it, but it will probably be the last tree cut.
 
Maxime bisson
Posts: 7
Location: South of Quebec city, Canada, zone 4
trees woodworking
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Well as of right now, there are no law concerning the american chestnut in quebec, however I think that prevetion is the way to go. I will try a few ways, see what fits the best for us and if any blight gets declared I will do what is nescessary
 
Maxime bisson
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Location: South of Quebec city, Canada, zone 4
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Oh and by the way can the blight be transfered from seeds, let's say I import seeds instead of buying seedlings, because from what I read the blight as only be declared at the extreme south of the province, hundreds of km away. If it is safer I will go that way
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Blight is soil born not seed born so seed is safe.
There are a few folks that are growing American chestnut in the US for commercial use and the way they are doing it is to plant thousands then thin down over the years.
Those that come down with the blight are destroyed, those that survive are usually resistant.
One other interesting thing about chestnut trees, they are capable of being selected for quantity of nuts produced, many will put out nuts in either the first or second year, and those that fruit earlier will usually produce more over time than those that start putting out nuts later in life.

Redhawk
 
Maxime bisson
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Location: South of Quebec city, Canada, zone 4
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Alright thank you!
 
hans muster
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@Redhawk: it is the first time I read that chestnut can be grafted on beech. As far as I know, Castanea sativa is quite picky with the rootstock, and there can even be incompatibilities within the same species. But I have seen pictures of C. sativa (supposedly) grafted on Oak (not sure of species), with a lot of people trying but not succeding in doing it again.
Which beech and which chestnuts are compatible? Or where do you have this information from, what did you try?

For alkaline soils it would be great!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Fagus grandifolia, common name American Beech, is the one I have used for rootstock for grafting chestnut.
Timing is rather critical for these grafts.
My most successful grafts of these two have been bud grafts, with a 95% success rate. This is not something I do anymore since Buzzard's Roost is not growing nuts but fruits.

We have plans to add an area that will be for nut production which will be focused on Hazel and chestnut, all the trees will be either nursery grown or direct seed plantings.
When we direct seed we will be using a dense planting method just like New Forest Farms the area will only be about 1.5 acres in total area, used as an alley break.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Timing is rather critical for these grafts.
My most successful grafts of these two have been bud grafts, with a 95% success rate.

Fantastic news!
How many did you do, and how long have they lasted so far? How big are they now, and do they produce nuts?
Please reveal which timing is needed?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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over the past 30 years I have done approx. 150 of these bud grafts. They seem to take best when grafted just at bud out, that is the buds are swollen but not yet opening (this is the point of first sap flow).

I did the first of these grafts for one of my family members peach farms (they wanted to branch out to nuts other than pecans so they decided on chestnut) and the first takes are still producing and should do so for another 40 years at least.
One of the trees on their orchards was lightening struck and now makes beautiful music since we turned it into several fiddles and guitars.
The tree had been producing well enough that they wanted to do something with the wood other than the normal.

Chestnut trees have been known to live quite long (approx. 1000 years) but I doubt they were producing large crops at that age, the wood tends to become more and more brittle after the age of 50 years old.

Redhawk
 
hans muster
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Thanks a lot for your answers Redhawk!

It seems like there might be a possibility to grow chestnut in the alkaline european soils.  If Fagus sylvatica and C. sativa interact the same way as F. grandifolia with (hybrid?) chestnuts it would be awesome.

Did you use T-budding, or chip-budding?

 
Bryant RedHawk
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T budding works best.
 
Lance Kleckner
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Do the grafts grow a lot slower since beeches don't grow fast like chestnuts?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Not really, the grafted bud grows at the rate its genes dictate not the root stock.

root stocks will impart certain attributes but will not have a growth rate attribute transference.

As an example of what can transfer; chemicals contained or manufactured by the roots that flow through the sap of the rootstock will be found in the scion plant material.
This is why we graft onto disease resistant and or insect resistant species many times.

Redhawk
 
Akiva Silver
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Redhawk, that is very fascinating. The chestnut industry has been struggling for a long time in figuring out how to graft chestnuts without delayed graft failures. Do you have any pictures of chestnut on beech, I know several organizations that would be extremely interested.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Unfortunately I didn't take any photos when I was grafting those, no time for doing so and no camera. I will see if I can get my relatives to take some photos of their trees I grafted, they are nearly 50 years old now.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Quebec already has beech bark disease doesn't it? I have been recommended to only plant European Beech until some truly resistant varieties are available. The crawlers aren't here yet but at present pace it is only a few years. You might not come out ahead by grafting on a vulnerable rootstock...
 
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