Karl Davies karl at
Sat Nov 27 00:26:43 EST 1999

truffler1635 at wrote:


> A potential problem with chestnuts here is that they interbreed easily.
> Unless the nuts have been collected from isolated trees with known
> single-species trees nearby, seedlings literally could be almost any
> combination of hybrids from the species already introduced here. Not
> that that would be bad, necessarily, but different hybrids do have
> different desirability in terms of nut sweetness, tannic acid content,
> growth, shade tolerance, and rooting structure.

Some American chestnut advocates are concerned that interbreeding with
Chinese chestnuts will be a big problem when they finally get the
blight-resistant American strains developed.  They figure genes from the
spreading Chinese species will ruin the timber quality of the columnar
American species.

> One advantage to chestnuts, I feel, is that most of the roots are near
> the surface, and tend to stabilize relatively steep slopes. In shallow
> soils, it may be necessary to create a sink of pit containing enough
> soil to get the tree established. But once established, there are
> naturally occuring fungi which evidently are spread mostly by raptors,
> which should ensure longevity. I think chestnut cultivation makes more
> sense than walnut, cherry, and many other hardwood species.

Right.  Prices around here for chestnut lumber were in the $6-8 per bf range
(retail) the last time I checked.  This was for lumber salvaged from old
buildings.  Compare that to $4-6 per bf for walnut, and add in the fact that
chestnut grows nearly twice as fast, and chestnut is hard to beat.  Plus,
you get the nuts.  See the tables at the end of
for more info.

> And once the tree is large enough to make lumber (I've seen 25-year-old
> chestnut
> which are near lumber size) there is a pretty stable market for the
> lumber in renovation of historic structures. A tree need only be 50 feet
> tall and have a basal diameter of 20 inches for it to be commercially
> important.

Problem is you have to do some pretty intensive management to get Chinese
chestnuts to grow timber.  They like to grow like standard apple trees.
I've had some success with tree shelters doubled up to make them grow
straight, clear butt logs.  I haven't figured out the economics on that
yet.  Maybe I'm afraid to. <G>

Karl Davies, Practicing Forester

Northeastern Forestry Reformation List Server

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