American Chestnut Growth and Survival Five Years after Planting in Two Silvicultural Treatments in the Southern Appalachians, USA
The ability to restore American chestnut (Castanea dentata) through the planting of blight-resistant (Cryphonectria parasitica) trees is currently being tested. Forest-based research on the species’ silvicultural requirements and chestnut blight development are lacking. Pure American chestnut seedlings were planted in a two-age shelterwood forest with low residual basal area and in a midstory-removal treatment with high residual basal area. Survival did not differ between silvicultural treatments and averaged 67 percent across both treatments by the fifth year. Trees in the two-age shelterwood were 2.36 m and 16.8 mm larger in height and ground-line diameter, respectively, compared to trees in the midstory-removal by the fifth growing season. Blight occurrence was not affected by silvicultural treatment. Exploratory analyses indicated that seedling grading at planting and keeping trees free-to-grow through competition control would have resulted in a two-year gain in height and GLD growth in the two-age shelterwood treatment. The two-age shelterwood represented the most efficacious prescription for chestnut restoration, but the midstory-removal prescription may offer a reasonable alternative in areas where harvesting must be delayed.