Scientists & Staff

Jim McKenna

Hardwood Tree Improvement & Regeneration Center, 715 W. State Street
West Lafayette, IN, 47907-2061
Phone: 765-496-3624

Contact Jim McKenna

Current Research

  1. Tree improvement of black walnut, black cherry, northern red oak, butternut, American chestnut, and figured sugar maple that will increase productivity through improved growth rate, timber form, wood quality, and resistance to exotic disease.
  2. Identify and conserve butternut throughout the Central Hardwood Region.
  3. Clonal forestry of walnut comparing grafted advanced selections vs. seedlings.
  4. Utilize neutral genetic DNA markers for managing breeding stock and for mating control of open-pollinated breeding populations.
  5. Develop robust and reliable progeny test methods for walnut, northern red oak, and black cherry field trials.

Research Interests

In cooperation with public and private forestry nurseries, creation of seed orchards for the production of improved seed for black walnut, black cherry, and northern red oak seed. Development of novel and valuable hybrid walnut selections. In cooperation with the American Chestnut Foundation, creation of two chestnut blight resistant seed orchards for Indiana. Development of butternut canker resistant seed orchards for landowners in much of the Central Hardwood Region. Utilize DNA markers and current progeny tests to develop 2nd generation seed orchards for additional improvement and future seed orchards. Separate butternut hybrids from pure butternut and conserve an adequate genetic base for long term restoration of butternut. Develop white oak and northern red oak planting stock with precocity (early acorn production) and high acorn yield to provide mast for wildlife.

Why This Research is Important

HTIRC's main objective is the production of quality planting stock for public and private landowners who are interested in reforestation and for the fine hardwood timber companies interested in utilizing plantation grown timber. By developing advanced lines of improved planting stock, the outcome of our research will increase the profitability of plantation forestry and provide future economic benefits to the fine hardwood forestry industry in the United States. Our attention to conserve and maintain genetic diversity in our breeding populations will help promote long term sustainability of these hardwood species for future reforestation.


  • University of California, M.S. Plant Biology - Ecology Specialization, 1997
  • University of California, B.S. International Agricultural Development Plant Science Specialization, 1993

Professional Organizations

  • USDA Juglans Crop Germplasm Committee
  • Indiana Nut Growers Association
  • Indiana Walnut Council
  • Indiana Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation

Featured Publications & Products

  • McKenna, J.R.; Ostry, M.E.; Woeste, K. 2011. Screening butternut and butternut hybrids for resistance to butternut canker. In: Fei, Songlin; Lhotka, John M.; Stringer, Jeffrey W.; Gottschalk, Kurt W.; Miller, Gary W., eds. Proceedings, 17th central hardwood forest conference; 2010 April 5-7; Lexington, KY; Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-78. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 460-474.
  • Farlee, Lenny; Woeste, Keith; Ostry, Michael; McKenna, James; Weeks, Sally. 2010. Identification of butternuts and butternut hybrids. FNR-420-W. West Lafayette, IN. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. 11 p.
  • Farlee, Lenny; Woeste, Keith; Ostry, Michael; McKenna, James; Weeks, Sally. 2010. Conservation and management of butternut trees. FNR-421-W. West Lafayette, IN. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. 10 p.
  • Woeste, Keith; Farlee, Lenny; Ostry, Michael; McKenna, James; Weeks, Sally. 2009. A forest manager's guide to butternut. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 26(1): 9-14.
  • Woeste, Keith E.; McKenna, James R. 2004. Walnut genetic improvement at the start of a new century. In: Michler, C.H.; Pijut, P.M.; Van Sambeek, J.W.; Coggeshall, M.V.; Seifert, J.; Woeste, K.; Overton, R.; Ponder, F., Jr., eds. Proceedings of the 6th Walnut Council Research Symposium; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-243. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station. 9-17

Publications & Products

Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2014