Field Grafting Improved Chestnut Cultivars to Increase Yield: An Operational Test in an Agroforestry System.

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,985.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Stephen Shifley
Shifley's Nut Farm

Annual Reports


  • Nuts: chestnuts


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, cover crops, intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, workshop, youth education
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal summary:

    About 30 of my oldest of my trees are now beginning to produce chestnuts in small quantities. However, production varies greatly among individual trees, with most of the production from about a dozen of those trees. This variation in production is typical for nut producing trees. The best way to increase the quantity and consistency of chestnut production is to graft trees with scion wood taken from carefully selected adult trees with proven productive capacity. Based on experimental trials with many chestnut cultivars at the Center for Agroforestry, scientists have identified cultivars well suited to Missouri. In this project we will collect scion wood from 4 to 6 proven cultivars at the Missouri Center for Agroforestry and field graft those to chestnut seedlings and young trees established on my farm. The objectives of this project are to: • Assess the cost and success rate of field grafting in an operational orchard on trees from 1 to 5 years old • Compare the production of different cultivars by monitoring nut production by cultivar over five years following grafting • Compare the production of grafted vs. ungrafted (control) trees • Transfer the findings to other growers or potential growers through field tours, demonstrations, and publications in conjunction with the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri We will establish an experimental design with scion wood cultivars (including an ungrafted control) as the treatment effect. Treatments will be replicated in a randomized complete block design with blocking by field location (soil moisture and clay content vary with location across the site). This operational evaluation of grafting effectiveness will differ from the research studies already conducted at the Center for Agroforestry in three important ways. First, the grafting will be done in a production setting (rather than on a research farm) and will be limited to a small number of scion selections with multiple replications. Second, unlike the deep loess soils used to test cultivars at the Missouri Center for Agroforestry, the soils on my farm have a high clay content and are moderately to highly erodible. Thus these field trials will provide a broader frame of reference (in terms of soil type) for the selected cultivars, broadening the potential inference space for future planting recommendations. Third, because I am simultaneously concerned with operational issues such as efficient nut collection, the treatments will be assigned to full rows of trees (9 to 22 trees per row) to make it possible to readily compare consistency within and among cultivars in the dates of nut-fall. Collection of scion wood and grafting will be done in partnership with experts from the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, and they will have access to my farm for evaluation, demonstration, and field tours. The primary costs of this project are (a) personnel expenses to hire experts to collect scion wood and perform the field grafting, (b) grafting supplies, (c) initial monitoring expenses, and (d) travel to visit prior SARE projects working with chestnut establishment. Although from a funding perspective this is a two-year project, I will continue future monitoring and reporting for 5 years following grafting.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.