Mortality, early growth and blight occurrence in hybrid, Asiatic, and American chestnut seedlings in West Virginia

by

Melissa Thomas-Van Gundy, Jane Bard, Jeff Kochenderfer, Paul Berrang

MT-VG is corresponding author and can be reached at (304) 478-2000 ext. 114 or mthomasvangundy@fs.fed.us.

Abstract – Two plantings (Cheat and Gauley) of hybrid American chestnuts established in east-central West Virginia have been tracked for four years. Trees of pure American and pure Asiatic growing stock were also planted as comparisons for height growth, form, blight occurrence, and blight resistance. Overall mortality after 4 growing seasons totaled on the 12% and 41% on the Cheat and Gauley sites, respectively. About 13% of the B3F3 hybrids planted on the Cheat site had died as compared to 42% on the Gauley site. No families experienced greater than 50% mortality on the Cheat site, while 10 families experienced that level or greater on the Gauley site. Mean height at the start of the 2015 season and mean change in height since 2011 showed no statistically significant differences between families although one family in each location had the greatest growth; D2-26-72 on the Cheat and D2-28-125 on the Gauley, both B3F3 hybrids. However, when total growth over time is tested, including resprouting individuals, family differences appear and are statistically significant. On the Cheat site, six families (one pure American and five B3F3) had greater growth than one family (B3F3), and on the Gauley site, one family (B3F3) showed significantly greater growth over four families (two B3F3 families, one B3F2 family, and one pure Asiatic family). Two B3F3 families had greater than 25% of their stems considered poor form on the Cheat site; 45% of the stems in one B3F3 family were considered poor form on the Gauley site in 2015.