Mountaineer Chestnut

 

The Mountaineer chestnut is the culmination of 29 years of research, work and probably quite a bit of luck.  This is the one tree out of many that seems to possess the good qualities of our native American chestnut yet having the chestnut blight resistance of the Chinese tree.  The Mountaineer chestnut is the result of a 1998 controlled cross between an American chestnut with a Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station(CAES) hybrid.  

 

The Mountaineer chestnut tree is approximately 62.5% American, 25% Chinese and 12.5% Japanese.  The actual cross is:  American x [(Japanese x American) x Chinese].

The American parent is WV-1.  WV-1 is unusual in that it is partially resistant to chestnut blight, most Americans have no resistance.  WV-1 has produced a high percentage of hybrids with good blight resistance.  The CAES hybrid parent is JAC-74.  It is 50% Chinese, 25% American and 25% Japanese.  For a detailed description of JAC-74, look under the tab; 'The Trees'.  

 

This tree was intially planted in the summer of 1999 into a shaded fencerow to acclimate it to the sun.  January 1, 2000 was a gorgeous warm day in our area, so my wife and I planted the Mountaineer and another 15 - 20 seedlings into their permanent location on that day.  In 2001 the tree was killed by some type of a wood borer.  It sprouted profusely from the base.  I removed all but the stongest sprout.  All the tree measurements are from 2001.

 

The growth has been phenomenal. The tree is 10.25" in diameter for an average increase of .73 inches per year.  It has actually increased it's diameter 1 full inch per year for the last 5 growing seasons.  This is the type of growth the American species was famous for.  It is roughly 40 feet tall, for an annual growth rate of 2.85 feet per year.

To the average person, it would be hard to distinguish this tree from a pure American.  I have had professional foresters that thought the Mountaineer was an American.  It is also one of the few trees I have that survived Hurricane Sandy with no damage despite 20 plus inches of heavy wet snow.

 

Nut production has been steady.  The nuts drop early, by the first week of September, something it gets from it's JAC-74 parent.  My pure Americans don't have nuts until late September or early October.  The flavor is excellent!  It is a good combination of the American parent which is considered the sweetest of all chestnuts and the Tiger Paw grandparent which is esteemed among Chinese chestnuts.  The chestnuts are slightly larger than American nuts, averaging about 7 - 7.5 grams per nut.  

 

Uniform appearance of Mountaineer chestnuts.

The Mountaineer chestnut leafing out in May 2013.

Mountaineer chestnut in July, 2015.

Mountaineer chestnut pictured against a blue autumn sky in October 2015.  Without the leaves it is easy to see the nice timber form.

View into the canopy in September 2015.