In Indiana, black walnuts are prized for their wood. Charles Michler, project leader of Purdue's Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, said walnuts accounted for as much as 15 percent of the logs sold in Indiana at a value of about $11 million.
"Walnut is probably the most important species in the hardwood products industry today," Michler said.
The center has a walnut breeding program that is attempting to identify trees that can be used in different climates, he said.
One goal is to find walnuts that may be able to stand up to the heat or cold stresses that trees could be subject to in a changing climate. The center is looking at seeds that come from mature trees to see if the seeds have attained defense mechanisms against changes already seen in climate.
"That could be the strategy that trees have," Michler said. "The trees that are mature now may be affected by climate change, but the seeds they produce may be adapting through genetic changes."
|Contact: Brian Wallheimer|