american chestnut: tacf vs accf

Garden_Gekko(5b)May 5, 2013

After a lot of research, I've decided I would like to take up the fight to bring back the AC in a meaningful way - including dedicating a couple acres in my woodlot to plant a grove and making a meaningful (to me at least) donation to one of the orgs doing work in the field.

Wanted the forum's opinion on relative merits of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) vs. The American Chestnut Cooperators' Foundation (ACCF).

On the one hand, I strongly prefer ACCF's mission of using all-american trees that have displayed some blight resistance in their breeding program. To me, bringing back a true American chestnut is far superior to introducing a Chinese / American hybrid as TACF is doing.

On the other hand, organizationally - in terms of scale, transparency, resources, drive, support for growers, etc etc - TACF seems FAR SUPERIOR to ACCF. TACF seems like a real organization, on the verge of achieving its mission accross a large geographic area. Its not clear to me that ACCF has the organizational abilities to really make much of a difference.

As a non-technical person its hard for me to judge the strength of each organizations' science.

I feel its an important decision, at an important time. The further TACF gets ahead of ACCF and introduces hybrid genetics into the forests, the less chance that the true american chestnut will recover.

Anyone thought through these issues?

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jujujojo_gw(6b 7a)

Both are wonderful and both have agriculture values. I love both.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:25PM
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Garden_Gekko(5b)

Wanted to bump this in case anyone had an opinion.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 3:10PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I think the existence of both is good and will be the best way to restore American Chestnut. However, I don't really mind if the TACF trees are hybrids - they're only going to end up about 7% Chinese anyway. They're only trying to get the resistance gene. They seem to be making a lot of progress towards that goal.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 3:12PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i dont know why understanding the politics of some 3rd party would make a difference....

i dig holes and plant trees ... crikey ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 4:50PM
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Garden_Gekko(5b)

What does politics have to do with it? What third party?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 7:03PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Garden_Gekko, I agree with most everything you've said, except I would slightly rephrase one thing. The ACF is way better at fundraising, but I'm not sure they are all that far ahead of the ACCF in other ways, especially in being ultimately successful in their goals. Both organizations are making progress, and both apparently have a long way to go.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 10:18PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Brandon, I can't locate the article at the moment, but the ACF seems to be at a point where some of their current-generation trees are showing a decent percentage that are resistant to blight, but nowhere near enough that seeds will or should be released to the general public for quite some time.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:37PM
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lucky_p

Then, there's this potentially exciting new(er) development to give the anti-GMO crowd something else to squawk about.
But wait, it's not from Monsanto...

Here is a link that might be useful: Transgenic blight-resistant Am. chestnuts

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 7:43AM
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Garden_Gekko(5b)

Brandon - have you worked with either org? Do you have a view as to whether ACCF has staying power - that it will last beyond the retirement of the senior researchers? My fear with ACCF is that it will fade away; whereas TACF seems to have the organizational strength to keep going. Although I take your point that that could be just fundraising / marketing...

I had an email correspondence with ACCF that I found really strange. I had heard about an arboretum nearby that had found a multi-acre stand of surviving chestnuts a decade or so ago; and that the arboretum was working with chestnut researchers . I asked the woman at ACCF if they were working with that particular arboretum. She wrote back rather curtly that they had never heard of it and were not interested in new genetic material. Both statements I thought were really strange. It seems like they would want to be up to speed on discoveries of, and get their hands on, any surviving native genetic material... It just increased my nagging fear that they have a very narrow, insular view of their mission and how to carry it out...that its more of an academic research project than a full out effort to save the tree. Which I think is a shame.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 9:10AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Hairmetal4ever, I think both organizations have claimed to be on the verge of something major for a long time. I'm not saying that either organization won't have major success soon, but some of the previous predictions didn't turn out as promising as hoped for, from what I understand.

Garden_Gekko, not really. I have worked with organizations that have worked with them, and done a little bit of research for that. I have had more (indirect) dealings with ACF, and got the feeling that they were as much about fund raising as they were about saving chestnuts. Most of the information I have about the ACCF is just from reading things from the organization itself and from members of that organization. You may be right that they are too dependent upon a few key people.

The experience you had really does seem strange, and it sure doesn't give one confidence in the organizations!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:08AM
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jocelynpei

I got seednuts from both groups and they all grew. Having said that, the ones from ACCF have more individuals that freeze back in the winter and have to start over in the spring. I think the seednuts I got, 3 lots, are all from Virginia. I'm at 46 degrees north. Some of the TACF ones I got are from Maine, only a little south of me. I got some non TACF ones too, from Pennsylvania and Nova Scotia. Seedlots make a huge difference, so far north. There is no blight on PEI yet, so I can't comment on blight resistance of any of them. Some folks claim there has been introgression of the blight resistant species into pure Americans in Pennsylvania, perhaps other States. I don't know if anybody has tested that, DNA wise, or not.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:25AM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

lucky_p, another article of the same ilk about SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry came out in the March 2014 Scientific American - titled The American Chestnut's Genetic Rebirth. The author, William Powell of that college, states that "By borrowing genes from wheat and the Chinese chestnut, among other plants, and inserting them into the American chestnut's genome, we have created hundreds of transgenic trees, some of which defend themselves against C. [Cryphonectria] parasitica as well as, if not better than, their Asian counterparts."

They are seeking approval from the USDA, EPA and FDA to reproduce and re-introduce these trees into chestnut blighted areas. No doubt the anti-GMO crowd will come into play.

It is an interesting article with the required final paragraphs touting/justifying the positives to chestnuts, chinquapins wildlife and forests in general.

hortster

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:22PM
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lukifell(zone5 NH)

I am from New Hampshire.
I have noticed that chestnut blight seems to be worse in some years than in others. It may be cyclical. No one knows for sure.

Regardless, some chestnut trees seem to be growing larger before they die back, compared to 30 or 40 years ago. I suspect that the blight fungus is evolving and becoming less lethal. My observations indicate that American chestnuts will eventually recover with no help from anyone. If you don't believe me, just go hiking in the Connecticut River Valley. Where did all those sprouts come from ? They are not all relics. The trees are reproducing.
I have been surveying my local chestnut population. My goal is to collect enough local trees to form a mini-chestnut-orchard. This may involve transplanting sprouts or pollinating widely separated trees. Either way it will be hard work. If I am successful I will have a seed source that I can use to replant my surrounding area.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 9:19PM
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jocelynpei

Hand pollination of chestnut link.

http://masschestnut.org/pollinationManual.php

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 5:54AM
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