Chestnut (Castanea sp.) cultivar evaluations for north Florida

Robert C. Hochmuth, Lei Lani Davis, Wanda L. Laughlin, April L. Warner

Abstract


The chestnut (Castanea sp.) is a unique tree crop with potential as an alternative crop for small farmers in North Florida. Few tree crops have had more historical significance than the chestnut. The American chestnut was one of the common trees in eastern United States forests until the early to mid 1900s. Chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) was accidentally introduced to the US from the Orient in 1904 and killed nearly every American chestnut (C. dentate) in the US by the 1940s. Less than 1% of the world production of this nut now occurs in the United States. Chestnuts are gaining popularity in response to its attributes of a high quality, nutritious, fresh, local product, low in fat. Chinese chestnut (C. mollissima) and Japanese chestnut (C. crenata) are resistant to blight. In Florida, varieties of Chinese and American chestnut crosses are being successfully grown, as well as Chinese chestnut cultivars. A chestnut cultivar trial was established at the North Florida Research and Education Center–Suwannee Valley near Live Oak, FL in 1989. The planting included seven cultivars planted in a 30 × 30 ft arrangement. The chestnut crop in this trial was harvested in 2006 and 2007 and nuts were counted and weighed to obtain total yield and nut size for each cultivar.


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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283