2021 Virtual Conference

August 1-4, 2021 on Zoom

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Ticket price: $40 for four days of content!

Keynote Speaker - Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Botanist, medical biochemist and author Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger possesses a unique combination of western scientific training and an understanding of the knowledge and methods of a wide variety of traditional and alternative sources. She works to bring a better understanding and appreciation of the scientific complexities of nature to the general public. Beresford-Kroeger’s concept of bioplanning challenges ordinary people to develop a new relationship with the natural world, to view the environment as a biological system and to perform the ecological task of replanting the global forest. Her books include The Sweetness of a Simple LifeThe Global ForestArboretum Borealis: A Lifeline of the PlanetArboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest, and A Garden for Life. Beresford-Kroeger was inducted as a Wings Worldquest fellow in 2010, she was elected as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 2011, and in 2016 the Society named her one of 25 women explorers of Canada. A feature documentary about her work, the Canadian Screen Awards-nominated Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees, appeared in 2017.  In 2019, the Board of Governors and Senate of Carleton University recognized Dr. Beresford-Kroeger’s efforts towards preserving the earth’s climate and forests by conferring upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.  Her latest book is To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey From Ancient Celtic Wisdom To a Healing Vision of the Forest.

Speaker Abstracts

Nut trees have impressive power to sequester carbon in soils and biomass. We’ll review the basics of agricultural climate change mitigation and discuss management practices to maximize carbon sequestration and other impacts.

One of the challenges to specialty crop production has been plant injury due to particle drift or volatility of auxin herbicides). With the introduction of 2,4-D and dicamba tolerant crops, the frequency of damage to sensitive crops plants, including black walnut and pecan, has increased. Although stewardship technologies have been developed for herbicide applicators, including low-volatility formulations of synthetic auxin herbicides, adjuvant and herbicide premixes, and spray nozzles that limit fine spray droplets, injury from drift and volatilization has continued on sensitive crops. Key herbicide symptoms, strategies to limit nut tree injury, and residue sampling will be addressed in this presentation.

I have been using African walnut tree (Lovoa trichiloides) in combination with Tieghemella heckelii, Khaya ivorensis, Pycnanthus angolensis and Ricinodendron Heudelotii backs to cure stroke, prostate and breast cancer patients in Ghana. This prime medicine is called Kwayaa Alforce has over 500 testimonies.In addition, I shall introduce other important herbs to the world as a traditional healer.

Blossom End Rot (BER) has become a serious problem for chestnut growers in the eastern U.S. within the last decade. This fungal disease creates black lesions of varying sizes in chestnut kernels, rendering them unsalable, and little is known about the biology or management of the pathogen. With the support of the NNGA, for the last 2 years Amy Miller and Dr. Melanie Lewis Ivey of the Ohio State University Fruit Pathology program have been studying the biology of the fungal pathogen and monitoring chestnut cultivars for natural disease resistance. This presentation will provide a research update and unveil some of the mysteries behind BER.

Hypocotyl grafting of chestnut seedlings indoors provides an opportunity to graft cultivars as soon as the epicotyl emerges from a seed nut. For indoor sprouted nuts, seedlings can be grafted as early as March.

Don Kines, Mountain State Chestnuts developed and previously published a successful hypocotyl grafting method for chestnuts. Presented here is an experimental iteration involving grafting clips. The clip, graft union and scion is sealed in melted wax. This method requires no humidity control during graft healing and scion emergence. Success rates can be 50% or above.

The Asian chestnut gall wasp (ACGW) Dryocosmus kuriphilus Yasumatsu (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae) is an invasive gall-forming wasp that was inadvertently introduced into the United States in the 1970’s and is now considered a global pest of Castanea spp. The initial introduction of D. kuriphilus in Georgia was devastating for the chestnut industry in that state. In North America, galls caused by D. kuriphilus can be found on several Castanea species including the Chinese chestnut, C. mollissima Blume and the American chestnut, C. dentata (Marshall) Borkh., among others. Since its initial introduction, the Asian chestnut gall wasp has spread to many other regions of Eastern North America. This presentation will focus on aspects of the biology and life history of the Asian chestnut gall wasp, damage caused by the wasp, control efforts, and the spread of the ACGW in North America.

Chestnut cultivation for nut production is increasing in the eastern half of the US. Chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima), or Chinese hybrids with European (C. sativa) and Japanese chestnuts (C. crenata), are most commonly cultivated due to their high kernel quality, climatic adaptation, and disease resistance. Several hundred thousand pounds of high-quality fresh nuts are taken to market every fall, and several hundred additional orchards are entering bearing years. Grower-led on-farm genetic improvement has largely facilitated this growth. A lack of significant investments in chestnut breeding in the region, paired with issues of graft incompatibility and delayed failure, has led many growers to cultivate seedlings of cultivars rather than grafted cultivars. After decades of evaluation, selection, and sharing of plant materials, growers have reached a threshold of genetic improvement such that commercially viable seedling orchards can be reliably established by planting offspring from elite selected parents. Growers recognize that if cooperation persists and university expertise and resources are enlisted, genetic improvement can continue and accelerate. To this end, the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry (UMCA) and chestnut growers throughout the eastern US are partnering to formalize a participatory breeding program – the Chestnut Improvement Network. This partnership entails the UMCA providing an organizational structure and leadership to coordinate on-farm genetic improvement, implement strategic crossing schemes, and integrate modern genetic tools. Chestnut growers offer the program structural capacity by cultivating seedling production orchards that serve the dual purpose of decentralized breeding material. While growers' orchard trees provide financial support for the grower, those same trees can serve as in situ repositories, evaluation trials, and a source of elite parents for the next cycle of improvement, creating great value for the industry.

OSU 541.147 was released in April, 2020 by the Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium (Oregon State University, Rutgers University, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and the Arbor Day Foundation). It is superior in eastern filbert blight (EFB) resistance, nut yield and kernel quality to the seedlings and cultivars now available in the east. The parents are NY 616 and OSU 226.118. Trees in trials at OSU, trained to a single trunk, were smaller than 'Jefferson' and had an upright growth habit. Nuts are slightly long and borne in clusters of 3-4 in husks about 60% longer than the nuts. Nut maturity is late and 85% fall free of the husk. Kernel percentage is similar to 'Barcelona'. The small kernels have a heavy coating of fiber. About half of the pellicle is removed by blanching. There are few nut and kernel defects. In Oregon, bud mite ratings are similar to 'Clark' and higher than other cultivars but no mite injury has been observed in New Jersey. OSU 541.147 is highly resistant to EFB caused by the fungus Anisogramma anomala in OR and NJ. Resistance is from C. americana 'Rush' on linkage group 7. The NY selections have been widely planted in eastern North America since the 1940's and cankers have never been observed. Flowering is in mid-season and pollen germination is good. In NJ, with no irrigation despite relatively sandy, shallow soils, and limited fertility inputs, the plants are vigorous and productive, with no cold damage to stems, vegetative buds or female flowers. Cold injury of expanded catkins has been noted, but typically not a complete kill and pollen is shed. A plant patent was recently awarded for OSU 541.147 and trees are available in limited quantities from licensed nurseries. We will sell trees under the registered trademark "The Beast".

Ernie and Linda Grimo took breeding and selecting northern hazelnuts into their own hands when lack of local University funding and level of interest fell through in Ontario. There is a great demand for cold hardy, superior quality and high producing trees that are EFB resistant. Canada imports $80 million in hazelnuts/yr which requires 26,000 ha, and Ontario has 3.6 million Ha of arable land. With the current selections have climatic limitations the Grimos set off to develop hardy hazels suitable for Ontario, Quebec, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Hazelnut cultivars that are Eastern Filbert Blight resistant are proliferating. Efforts from growers, nurseries, and universities are yielding cultivars enabling the initial commercialization of hazelnut orchards throughout North America. We will review the status of cultivars being promoted with information that includes percent kernel, EFB resistance, USDA zone compatibility, S-alleles, sourcing and other relevant information. Understanding how cultivar metrics is relevant in planning your orchard will be discussed.

Black Walnut is our most valuable native timber species, and veneer is the elite black walnut market. For tree farms with suitable sites, black walnut is the obvious species of choice. Growing black walnut trees is easy, but producing veneer quality from shade intolerant black walnut takes some special attention. This program shows how to use conifer trainers to provide the proper shading to grow veneer quality black walnut

Thousand cankers disease is caused by the walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis) vectoring the fungal canker pathogen Geosmithia morbida (Gm), which can infect and cause dieback and eventual death of many Juglans species. Research has found that black walnut (J. nigra) is the most susceptible and affected of all Juglans species. Management options for thousand cankers disease are limited; therefore, finding resistant genotypes is needed. Initial studies on black walnut susceptibility to G. morbida documented some genetic variation and suggested potential resistance. Furthermore, G. morbida is thought to be native to the USA, which may have allowed for co-evolution. To examine the geographic genetic diversity for resistance to G. morbida, wild J. nigra families were collected from across the native range along with improved timber seedlings, planted in a common garden planting in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2014, and seedlings were inoculated with G. morbida over the course of four years and three growing seasons. Improved seedlings exhibited larger cankered areas than wild J. nigra of the same provenance suggesting that selection for improved growth rate and timber quality may be selecting against Gm resistance. Cankers induced by G. morbida in wild germ germplasm were smaller on J. nigra collected from the western and central portions of the native range compared to those collected from the eastern portion. Our research findings indicate that variation in genetic resistance to G. morbida is present in black walnut. Studies of variation of different genotypes to twig beetle attack remain to be done. We suggest the limited Gm resistance observed in J. nigra reflects a level of co-evolution between black walnut and the TCD fungus and hope this will prevent the full compromise of black walnut to thousand cankers disease across the native range. We will present additional data on the growth of improved and wild black walnut along with some of the newer information on the differing dynamics of TCD in the western vs. eastern U.S.

Thousand canker disease (TCD) is an emergent problem that mainly afflicts black walnut planted in the western United States. The causal agent of TCD is an insect, the walnut twig beetle (WTB) and a fungal pathogen (Geosmithia morbida) that it carries into the bark of trees. This fungus kills the living inner bark of the tree (cambium) around the galleries where WTB mate and reproduce. When the population of WTB grows large, trees suffer and die from TCD. By studying the other fungi, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms that live inside the roots and branches of walnut trees, researchers at Purdue University and the University of Tennessee have begun to get a clearer picture of why TCD has not yet caused serious problems for walnut growers in the eastern U.S. Most importantly, the pathogen G. morbida is quickly outcompeted by other fungi under the more humid climate in the east. Furthermore, fungi in the branches, roots, and soils of trees differ between managed and unmanaged forests and between the eastern and western U.S., and respond to G. morbida infection differently in these different contexts. As a result, trees in plantations and in the western U.S. may be more at risk than those in less intensively-managed eastern forests at this time. However, due to increases in temperatures and changes in moisture regimes in the midwestern U.S., the risk that TCD poses to black walnut in the eastern U.S. is expected to increase in the future.

I worked with pecan and hickory trees as a researcher and breeder for over 30 years, collecting wild and grafted accessions from worldwide populations, establishing test systems, and refining methods used for tree identification. Much has changed since we wrote the last Crop Vulnerability Report in 2016 (https://cgru.usda.gov/carya/cgc/2016CaryaCropVulnerabilityPlus.pdf). Multiple teams have succeeded with genomic profiling methods that offer perspectives on the geographic distribution of genetic diversity. Those successes have implications for using that diversity, not only for academic research teams, but for individuals seeking to create productive, sustainable relationships with their trees, and improved selections for future forests.

I would would] like to briefly outline the reason for the recent almond price drop and one of the almond growers’ solutions, for this problem, reducing the cost of pollination. I would also like to highlight briefly some equivalent actions in the pollination of Pistachios, and English walnuts possibly due to the drop in price of their product.

The NYNGA is searching for superior English walnut trees that are well adapted to our NYS climate and which produce nuts with desirable cracking characteristics and good flavor - no bitter aftertaste. English walnuts grow and produce well in USDA hardiness zone 6; we also find trees growing in hardiness zone 5 though production is more sporadic due to damage to the flowers from late spring frosts. We are looking for late leafing individuals that are less likely to be damaged by late spring frosts and which have decent resistance to walnut blight. We have started by planting the cultivars Ames, Bauer, Broadview, Combe, North Platte and Young's B1 all sourced from the Grimo Nut Nursery in Ontario, Canada at nine locations throughout NYS. We are also searching for superior trees with a history of good production for scion wood collection and cloning. In the future we wish to import seed from cold climate research programs in Europe to grow out and evaluate. This project is in its infancy and we have much to learn about all aspects of growing and selecting Juglans regia.

USDA staff joins NNGA to provide information on the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB), established in 2021, under the Pecan Promotion, Research, and Information Order.

The purpose of the APPB is to strengthen the position of pecans in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for pecans, and develop new uses for pecans. The program is financed by an assessment on domestic producers and importers of pecans. Handlers will collect assessments from producers based on pounds of pecans received and importers will pay assessments on pecans when they enter the United States.

The board’s assessments are used for promotion, research and industry information projects to help increase the demand for pecans. The board reimburses the Federal government for the cost of implementing and administering the program.

Let’s talk about Indiana’s potential for building commercial value chains around food nuts. This session will look at the state of Indiana’s value chains for chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. We have begun a systematic social sciences study to learn from Indiana growers and other Indiana stakeholders in tree nuts, and this session will offer preliminary findings from our Indiana University / Indiana State Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant, titled Indiana Tree Nuts: Building Supply Chains for Indiana Grown Chestnut, Hazelnut, Pecan, and Walnut. The study focuses on activity within Indiana as well as the inspiring nut communities of our neighboring states. Presentation and Q&A will focus on patterns, takeaways, challenges/opportunities, and next steps to build Indiana’s food tree landscapes and markets for Indiana-grown nuts.