Butternut Seed Orchard (media release, June 6, 2017)

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) is working with the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) to archive endangered native butternut trees. This species is threatened by butternut canker, a fungal disease, and protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

“Archiving is a lengthy process that begins with a licensed arborist collecting twigs from healthy butternut trees in March,” said John Enright, UTRCA Forester. “The twigs are grafted onto black walnut trees in April, tended in a nursery for two years, then planted and managed in an orchard enclosed by deer fencing. On Wednesday, we will be adding 39 grafted butternut trees to the orchard.”

The Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) has worked on butternut recovery since 1992. The association’s goals are:
–  to encourage landowners to conserve and manage their butternut, and
–  to archive healthy native butternuts that may be genetically tolerant to the canker.

On June 7, UTRCA staff will plant 39 grafted butternut trees and 3 butternut trees grown from seed in a Butternut Seed Orchard near Innerkip. The butternuts grown from seed are the first seedlings from the Ferguson Forest Centre Seed Orchard in Kemptville, which was the first Butternut Seed Orchard established in Ontario (2009).

The Butternut Archiving Program managed by the FGCA and local partners has established three protected sites since 2009 and planted grafts of over 75 butternuts. These sites, known as archives and managed as seed orchards, are important collections of genetic material that we can eventually test for canker tolerance.

FGCA continues to search for more butternut to archive. Please contact the FGCA for information on butternut and butternut canker, and if you have a tree that is tolerating the canker.

Contact: John Enright, Forester, or Steve Sauder, Marketing Specialist

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