Pollination Frenzy

The VT/NH Chapter of TACF recently completed an ambitious American chestnut pollination season. Eight wild trees were cross-pollinated in seven different towns.

Craig Tufts, pictured, pollinated a tree that he planted in his Concord, NH back yard seven years ago. Tim Elliot worked with landowner, Bruce Wilson, to pollinate a tree on Bruce’s Dover NH property. Our thanks to Bruce for leading us to this tree.

The blue ribbon goes to Chapter Location Committee member Chris Leask who pollinated six trees: two in Mason, and one each in Greenville, Temple, Wilton and Merrimack. All in NH.

Thanks to everyone who came forward in response to our call, letting us know the status of trees you own or know of, and the locations of new ones. We couldn’t pollinate every tree, but yours may be a target next year or the year after. The availability of members who know how to pollinate, accessibility without a lift, proximity and timing are all challenges every year, and we’ll endeavor to do better matching resources for this annual “dating game” each year.

Nuts from these trees will be harvested in late September, stored over winter and potted in February. Their saplings will be planted in Chapter Germplasm Orchards (GCO) early next summer. Trees growing in GCOs are pure American chestnuts. Those that survive chestnut blight long enough to flower will be pollinated with transgenic chestnut pollen following Federal approval for distribution of the blight-tolerant transgenic tree developed by the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at SUNY Syracuse.

TACF and its 17 Chapters are currently planting GCOs and developing strategies for introducing trees grown in them all across the historic American chestnut range. This biotechnology approach to restoration is the most promising option for widespread restoration. Nobody ever said it would be easy.