Section 291. gives an outline of the relative value of American and foreign varieties of the Chestnut and the advances they have made on both continents as a home nut and as grown commercially.
Also hints are given on its propagation, planting, and protection of the nuts from the attacks of weevil.
The most promising fields for the extension commercially of chestnut-growing is on the northern border of its native growth, on sandy hillsides and high ridges with rather thin soil. Even in the prairie States it succeeds fairly well on thin dividing ridges, and on the bluffs of streams formerly covered with timber. The Japan varieties have most promise on the hills and mountain ridges south of the fortieth parallel of latitude. We now have growing in the same vicinity, and often on the same place, trees in bearing of the American sweet chestnut (Castanea dentata), of the European varieties (Castanea sativa), and of the Japanese varieties (Castanea crenata). This suggests the possible results of natural and artificial crossing. The Japan varieties and our native species are closely related to the European type, and no doubt they will cross readily. The Japan varieties are relatively small in tree, with slender branches, come into bearing much earlier than the native or European species, and the nuts are very much larger than either, but inferior in quality to our natives. We may hope by crossing to retain the hardiness of tree and quality of nut of our natives, and to secure varieties with lower habits of growth, earlier bearing, and larger nuts nearly or quite equal in quality to the native varieties.
As yet the propagation of native varieties has been neglected except in a very local way. The following are propagated to some extent.
Large, borne in very large burr; very productive, and much grown in the vicinity of Philadelphia.
Large, light-colored, sweet kernel ; regular in bearing. Sometimes seven nuts are found in one burr. Michigan.
Medium to large, downy; quality best. New York.
Large, productive and desirable. Introduced from South Pass, Illinois.