ALCS Celebrates 16 Years of Fall Tree Nut and Seed Planting for Future Forests
October 15, 2020
For the sixteenth year in a row, ALCS has once again gathered and planted about one thousand tree nuts and seeds throughout central and Northcentral Pennsylvania, that will hopefully grow into mast-producing trees.
Chinese chestnut, American chestnut x Chinese chestnut hybrids, and fruit tree species are the main focus. Native wildflowers, are planted in the Fall, too.
"This is a labor of blood, sweat, tears, and love," says Josh First, ALCS's president. "Friends, colleagues, and family members all chip in by gathering desirable nuts and seeds throughout the late summer and Fall, and setting them aside to dry. When we are ready, they then hand them off to me, or help plant them in various private properties across central Pennsylvania."
Apple cores are scattered by hand across logged areas, usually into large brush piles and piles of tree tops. One small apple core filled with seeds counts as just "one seed," though when eaten by deer or bear the many seeds inside are likely dispersed across the landscape. Because even small apple cores that have had the fruit pared away still have an attractive odor, they cannot be planted. Their smell will attract bears and deer, who will dig them up.
"On the other hand, each chestnut and peach pit requires direct planting in a hole," says First. "We wait until acorns begin to fall, so that other seeds are available to wildlife and our plantings are not the only food out in the woods."
The native wildflowers ALCS usually plants are different trilliums and jack-in-the-pulpit.
In April, ALCS planted red spruce and various orchard apple seeds on sites in Lycoming County and Clinton County. Red spruce is a long-lived, commercially highly desirable conifer with a relatively small geographical distribution; it was dramatically overharvested by the 1920s. Its wood has a very high strength-to-weight ratio, and rare older red spruces in the 400-year-old range produce by far the best tonal wood for guitars and other stringed instruments. The Nature Conservancy has a significant red spruce restocking program in West Virginia. ALCS purchased red spruce seeds from Sheffield Seed Company in Locke, New York.