Clonal Production of Hybrid Chestnuts via Stool Bed Layering to Improve Overall Orchard Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $19,696.00
Projected End Date: 08/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Z's Nutty Ridge LLC
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Jeffrey Zarnowski
Z's Nutty Ridge LLC


  • Nuts: chestnuts


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection

    Proposal summary:

    Chestnut orchards are being planted throughout the Northeast mainly using hybrid seedlings and some grafted trees. Seedling trees have high genetic variability and many trees are inferior, lowering productivity and farm income. Grafted trees suffer from delayed graft failure. Seedling trees often suffer with poor productivity, lack of cold hardiness, alternate annual bearing, susceptibility to diseases and poor-quality nuts. Stool bed layering is a method to clone superior trees. Suckers grow or can be encouraged to grow at the base of chestnut trees. Suckers then will be encouraged to grow their own roots with the proper hormones cloning superior trees. Knowledge gained from this proposal allows any grower to copy their superior trees and greatly increase production and profit for their farm and the region.

    Working with chestnut orchards in the Fingerlakes region of NY, suckers will be stool bed layered with a matrix of hormone concentrations to find the best concentration that promotes the most suckers to root in year one. Year two the same trees will be layered with a very narrow range of hormone refining the best concentration for rooting with additional ingredients that are known to increase rooting percentage and quality of rooting.

    Working with Cortland NY CCE agent and networking knowledge accumulated with growing trees for thirty years at Z’s Nutty Ridge nursery, outreach will be an illustrated brochure, an educators brochure and video presentation will be disseminated to nut based organizations, extension agents, and farmers. Also, in person outreach seminars will be offered.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to define the concentration of hormone needed to induce rooting on hybrid chestnut suckers using a common stool bed layering method to improve the profitability to the farmer.  The rooted suckers are identical copies of the mother trees and are called clones.  Clones are asexually reproduced copies of a superior tree providing genetically identical trees and are often called a “cultivar”. 

    The objective for this proposal are:

    1. Improve orchard profitability via cloning superior trees.
    2. Develop the proper hormone “recipe” and illustrated instructions to enable any grower can clone via stool bed layering their superior trees.
    3. New cultivar generation as superior trees are cloned via stool bed layering they can become named “cultivars” as copies can be made to be shared throughout the Northeast US.
    4. Increased permaculture as cultivars will encourage more trees to be planted as their quality is known reducing risk to the farmer.


    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.