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$200 cash prize for the largest chestnut tree in new york

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The New York Chapter of the American Chestnut Federation (ACF) is offering a $200 reward for the discovery of the largest living Chestnut tree in New York. And $50 for any trees that are over 14″ DBH!

As Jerry Henkin, librarian for the Northern Nut Grower’s Association (NNGA) writes, “There is a tradition for this type of contest.  In the early years of the NNGA Willard Bixby, a nut tree nurseryman from Baldwin, NY (on Long Island) and President of the NNGA, offered a cash prize for the beech tree that produced the largest nuts.  As a result, the Jenner beech, and other cultivars were selected and propagated.”

Contests like this were popular during the Great Depression, and many of the marketable pecans and walnuts grown today are progeny from breeding efforts from these finds. More initiates of this kind could increase genetic diversity in our orchards and be used to make more cultivars available– and likely ones that are more pest and disease-resistant.

This all being said, we’re posting this contest with one rather large caveat: the NY ACF intends to use the nuts and pollen from the trees to cross-breed with its genetically-engineered blight-resistant American Chestnut, posing a small ethical conundrum for those of us who support the proliferation of more native species but generally oppose all GMO projects. Proceed with your own disgression. (We’d really like to hear your thoughts on this one. If you have any, please leave a comment!)




One thought on “$200 cash prize for the largest chestnut tree in new york

  1. FYI, Here are some datails about the transgenic tree.
    It will not be patented so the tree and any nuts will be yours to use as you wish.
    The OXO gene inserted from wheat, allows the transgenic tree to produce an enzyme that breaks down the acid from the blight, the same as wheat amd most grain crops.
    It only requires the one gene for resistance,so it breeds true.
    It does not kill the fungus, and therefore removes the genetic preasure of “survival of the fittest”, so it is unlikely that the fungus will evolve and overcome the resistance.
    The transgenic tree is 99.997% pure, not a hybrid with a Chinese tree, so it will be just like the original American chestnut,except it will be blight resistant.
    It does not produce any insecticides.
    It is not resistant to any herbicides.
    You can test a tree for blight resistance with a simple test in just hours, while testing a hybrid for resistace takes years.
    It is more blight resistant than the Chinese tree.
    A cross of the transgenic tree with a wild type tree to capture the genetics results in 50% of the resultant nuts to be fully blight resistant. While a cross between an American/Chinese hybrid will result in less than 1% of the resultant nuts getting the resistance of the hybrid tree. And the hybrid trees then have to be grown for years and tested to see how blight resistant they are.

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