READING, Pa. — The Northern Nut Growers Association and the Chestnut Growers of America are planning for a hybrid conference to be held August 7 to August 10 at the Penn State Berks Campus in Reading, PA. Participation in the technical presentations that lean heavily toward chestnut and hazelnut breeding and environmental benefits can be in person or via zoom on Monday and Tuesday with in person field tours of established plantings on Wednesday.
“The Northern Nut Growers Association continues to be the go-to organization to share acquired knowledge on the growing and research for temperate zone nut-bearing trees as it has since 1910,” said Greg Miller, current NNGA President and second-generation chestnut orchardist from Ohio. “Traditionally our annual conferences have been held each summer at different sites throughout the continental US; however, our experience with a virtual conference last year indicates we will connect with more growers and members if we add a virtual component to this year’s conference.”
Roger Blackwell, President of the Chestnut Growers of America, says “Our group welcomes the opportunity to co-sponsor this hybrid conference with the NNGA. We both will benefit from the sharing of ideas and experiences for growing, pest management, harvesting, and marketing of chestnuts.” Sandy Anagnostakis, NNGA Secretary and Chestnut Breeder at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, says “this also will be a remarkable opportunity to meet and interact with other nut tree enthusiasts in addition to the chestnut growers.”
Nuts are nutritious and delicious, and nut trees can play a role in protecting the environment and mitigating climate change. “We have seen an upswing in the interest in growing chestnut and hazelnuts in the eastern United States” says Jerry Henkin, Program Coordinator and NNGA Librarian from Yonkers, New York. “We will have several presenters discussing their on-going breeding work to develop productive cultivars, especially hazelnut resistance to eastern filbert blight and chestnut resistant to chestnut blight.
“Regenerative agriculture and agroforestry have growers looking at ways to add trees to the different practices to increase their environmental benefits,” says Jerry Van Sambeek, who recently retired from the USDA Forest Service and the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry. “Over the years, the NNGA has offered resources for managing nut-bearing trees, including walnut, butternut, pecans and other hickories, bur and few other oaks, chestnut, hazelnut, and two native fruit trees, paw paws and persimmons. The NNGA offers archived editions of their Annual Report and the quarterly The Nutshell, as well as opportunities to ‘Ask an Expert” questions through our website. The NNGA is in the process of adding a FAQ section to their website ranging from site selection to orchard management for each nut tree species.”
“PSU Berks makes an ideal location for our conference,” according to Sara Fitzsimmons, local arrangements coordinator. The freshly renovated Perkins Center offers everything our meeting organizers and attendees need all in one place at an affordable price. With on-campus lodging right up the hill, conference visitors will find either an easily walkable experience, or easily accessible parking between the lodging and meeting venues. I’m especially excited about the possibility of re-building community across nut-growers after 2-3 years of not seeing anyone. Living and meeting all at the same place will be a fun way to get everyone together for the first time in a long time. Reading is central to several different chestnut breeding and production planting locations (Tour Option 1), and also within driving distance of hazelnut breeding efforts at Rutgers University (Tour Option 2).”
“To join the NNGA and CGA at their 2022 hybrid conference August 7 to August 10” said Debbie Milks, NNGA Treasurer and 27-year chestnut grower in Kansas, “register on our website at https://nutgrowing.org/annual-conference/. You can register to participate virtually in the technical sessions on Monday and Tuesday or for the full in-person experience that includes the technical sessions, an all-day field tour on Wednesday, and other planned activities for growers to share experiences”. Joe Hietter, NNGA website manager, has updated the http://nutgrowing.org website with the details for the entire conference and list of speakers. He says, “Addition of conference content compliments the continued expansion of our website to show more resources for growing, harvesting, and marketing over a dozen species of nut and native fruit trees. NNGA membership applications are available at https://nutgrowing.org/membership-options/ .”
–Submitted by Jerry Van Sambeek
Northern Nut Growers Association Board Member
Colorado Pecan and Walnut Grower