Nursery quality and first-year response of american chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedlings planted in the southeastern United States
We examined nursery seedling quality and 1-yr field performance of American chestnut [Castanea dentata (Marshall) Borkh.] seedlings planted in Alabama (AL study) and Tennessee (TN study). Root-collar diameter (RCD) had the highest correlations to nursery seedling quality and first-year fleld performance for both studies. Survival was low in the Alabama study (18 percent) due to ink disease, caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, and rabbit damage. Seedling growth was not affected by genetic family in either study, and seedling size class and silvicultural treatment did not affect growth at the AL site. On the TN site, survival was 86 percent; relative height and diameter growth were negatively related to nursery height, indicating planting shock was a factor. Restoration of blight-resistant American chestnut will depend on early establishment success, which can be affected by factors not easily controlled.