Butternut Seed Orchard contributes to the conservation of the species

INDIANA – Butternut trees, also referred to as “white walnut”, have been decimated throughout their range by a canker-causing fungus for over 40 years. 

he USDA Forest Service has established several pure butternut seed orchards, one of which is located on property owned by OFS Brands in Huntingburg, Indiana.  The Huntingburg seed orchard was established in 2012 and the seventh season of seed harvesting was completed in the fall by Hoosier National Forest staff.  A new record was set which yielded 19 bags with over 6,000 total nuts. 

The butternut seed orchard in Huntingburg, Indiana.

The harvested nuts will be grown at Hensler Nursery in Hamlet, Indiana, and the seedlings will eventually be available for the Hoosier and Wayne National Forests, as well as the public, to plant.  The seedlings will also be available for research needs as seedlings produced from butternut seed orchards are now the only reliable sources for pure butternut.  They are often used as controls in studies focused on attempting to produce hybrids that are resistant to butternut canker disease.

 The 2021 seed harvest yielded a record 6,000 pure butternuts.

Travis Swaim, forest silviculturist for Hoosier National Forest, reports that the trees in the orchard are doing well with no sign of butternut canker disease.