Dr. Joe James’ Chestnut Return Farms

The Chestnut Return Farms is a Research Station for The American Chestnut Foundation near Seneca, SC operated by Dr. Joe James.  Dr. James and his team, which includes researchers at nearby Clemson University, Carolinas Chapter volunteers and TACF employees, grow chestnut seedlings and screen them for resistance to root rot, or Phytophthora cinnamomi. Resistant trees are planted at the farm to grow, be inoculated with chestnut blight fungus, and the most resistant trees be selected for further cross pollination to develop American type chestnut trees resistant both to root rot and blight.

Below are photos of people touring the farm learned about efforts to develop American type chestnuts resistant to root rot disease.

  • Techniques developed by Dr. James to grow seedlings in tubs, expose the young trees to Phytophthora cinnamomi inoculum, select those trees displaying resistance, and plant them at the farm to grow and be used in further research work and breeding.
  • BC3F3 seed provided by Meadowview Farms being planted here is part of a field test screening of resistance to root rot. Joe’s farm is heavily infected with Phytophthora cinnamomi, and the field test results will be compared with screening test done in the tubs using an inoculum.
  • Part of the screening work involves tagging each seedling, taking two cuttings from leaves of each seedling, bagging the samples, and sending them to Clemson University for DNA extraction. A segment or segments of DNA from each sample will be checked for correlation for resistance to root rot.