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American Chestnut

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Foragefarmer, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    So inaddition to owning a farm I also own a fencing business. I have a client that is a nonprofit foundation that owns a large amount of land. as part of a current project they wanted me to build a split rail fence using rails salvaged from a fence at another farm they own. The grounds manager said it was because the rails are american chestnut. In my head I thought yeah right they are probably locust.

    Well we put up the fence and had to resize the rails and they do look like they are american chestnut. That means they are 80 years old at least. I kept the scrap and I am going to burn it at the house which should be interesting.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    fishingpol, ScotO, smokinj and 3 others like this.

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  2. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    Wow! What a great looking fence. Sounds like you're a busy guy! What are the posts made of?
  3. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Wow, that is way cool! :cool:
  4. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    The sawn piece looks like the American Chestnut I have in my carriage barn, and also like the planks I had band sawed from a lingering tree in my wood lot that reached 12'' dia. before it succumbed.
  5. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Kennett Square, PA
    A beautiful and rare wood in this area.
    Saw an old house with natural chestnut flooring
    that were beautiful.
  6. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    The last American Chestnut I knew of succumbed to the blight in the late 60ies early 70ies.
    We banged the chestnuts open with rocks and actually roasted them over an open fireplace fire in the living room .
    There was a red fungus on the stump for years later but I don't know if that was the actual blight or not.
  7. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    Upstate NY
    Nice job you had restoring the fence...I bet you wont forget that project. The split looks like chestnut. I didnt know it was a wood that could be in contact with the ground. All the articles I ever read about it go into depth about the blight and how it killed off the species. Never anything on the wood itself.
    I have some here at the farm but DEC guys tell me its just a matter of time.
    Nice of you to share that.
  8. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    I have read that chestnut had similar rot resistance as locust when it came to ground contact. They brought me some posts but they were to far gone and I went with new posts. It is a cold morning and I have a bunch of chunks in the wood stove. I have set aside some of the more interesting pieces and ran one through my jointer to see the grain.

    A couple years ago they had me estimate what it would cost to build a fence that would recreate a fence that was built in 1809. The original was built of locust posts, pegged heart pine rails, and split chestnut pales. The heart pine and chestnut would have been replaced with white oak. Considering the fence would have required about 18000 hand made nails @ $3.00 a nail; they didn't want machine made facsimiles, the estimate was likely the highest per foot price I will ever estimate a fence. The nails alone were $18 a foot in round numbers. They also had a historic architect provide an estimate and I was told we were in the same ballpark.
  9. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    If anyone here in their wood cutting travels finds a tree they think is an American Chestnut that is bearing nuts there are a couple foundations that are trying to create a blight resistant Chestnut and they would like seeds from that tree.
    NortheastAl likes this.
  10. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    I've read they have found some that are resistant and are trying to establish enough to get the American Chestnut back into our forests.
  11. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    They are close. Now they are having cooperators in different geographic locations grow potentially blight resistant trees and see how they do in those locations. The thing is they still need genetic diversity so any remnant tree that has evidence of surviving the blight to sexual maturity is still important.

    I have never seen a description of chestnut as firewood, but if its description of rot resistance being on par with locust is correct, then it may have been up there as far as desirability. It was also super straight grained so it must have been easy to split. I wonder how long in took to season?
  12. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is at the culmination of a 30+ year plan to re-introduce American Chestnut trees that are 15/16 pure American Chestnut with 1/16 Chinese Chestnut and that show high levels of blight resistance. The New York State Chapter of TACF has been pursuing a genetic engineering approach in parallel and are very close to beginning large-scale field plantings.

    See http://www.acf.org/ and http://www.acf.org/Chapters_ny.php
    ScotO likes this.
  13. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    That's definitely chestnut, without a doubt. Has a distinct grain to it. I've ran into some here and there, but never a whole lot of it. It burns a lot like walnut.......decent btu's but not the hottest or longest lasting.

    It sucks to burn a wood that is more-or-less extinct. But it is making a comeback, with the TACF.
    They are almost complete with the intercross breeding they are doing with the American chestnut and the Asian Chestnut, which after almost two decades has produced a tree that will be 99.9 percent true American chestnut with the total blight resistance of Asian chestnut......
  14. Foragefarmer

    Foragefarmer Member

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    The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation is also trying to establish blight resistant chestnuts, but they are doing it by crossing trees with natural blight resistance.

    http://www.accf-online.org/index.html
  15. jackatc1

    jackatc1 Burning Hunk

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    Loc:
    Port Crane ny
    Many years ago, I worked as lineman, pre. bucket truck,and ladder linemen.
    Hated climbing chestnut poles gafs would only penatrate 1/4" most poles
    very crooked like cork scew's. If you want to see a lot of chestnut poles,
    look along RR tracks all those short crooked poles are chestnut.

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