Sheryl Chestnut Tree
The 'Sheryl' chestnut tree was the first tree I actually named. It is the result of a 1990 controlled cross utilizing an American chestnut as the female parent and a Chinese chestnut as the male/pollen parent. The American parent is tree WV-1. It is an American that is partially resistant to chestnut blight. It has been the parent of many of my better hybrids. The Chinese parent is a lawn tree in my Uncle's yard in Philippi, WV. My grandfather planted the tree in 1960 and said these were trees distributed by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture as possible replacements for the American chestnuts. These Chinese importations were most likely from the Beltsville, Maryland USDA experimental plots.
The Sheryl chestnut tree produces a nut that is intermediate in size between the small American nut and the larger Chinese nut. The nuts are uniform in size and appearance with a very good flavor.
The tree is intermediate in regards to blight resistance. It is not as resistant as the Chinese parent, but more so than the American parent. It survives nicely with hypovirulent strains of chinese blight. It is a vigorous grower and has survived the last 2 winters with no damage even with several nights hitting -18°F.
In 1998 I was trying to do my best juggling time between work, my orchards and a new girlfriend. I thought I was doing a pretty good job until my girlfriend sent me the following poem:
I wish I were a chestnut tree so Don would spend more time with me.
With spreading branches and a trunk straight and stout,
I'd be all he thought about.
I would be stationary, standing still, but I know that he would come at will.
Tending to my every need, seeing the potential in what I could be.
Enjoying my growth with each passing day, mourning time
lost at being away.
Yes, I wish I were a chestnut tree so Don would spend more time with me.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize I was doing poorly with the girlfriend after receiving the poem. I thought I could make things right by showing her my favorite tree and telling her that I was naming it after her. Her response - she thought the tree was kind of wide at the bottom and maybe that is why I named it after her. Sometimes you just can't win! However, she married me despite my 'tree addiction' and all my many faults and we're still together.
That is the story behind the Sheryl chestnut tree.
A young grafted 'Sheryl' chestnut tree. The graft shows the beautiful symmetry and dense shade of the parent tree.
Profuse production of flowers and pollen, June 26, 2015.
Loaded with burrs, late August 2015.
Nuts collected on October 4, 2015. Nuts are of a good size for a first generation hybrid and rate high for quality and flavor.
Burrs open fully so that the nuts fall free from the burr.