Laying the groundwork for widespread agroforestry in the Midwest


Contest Details & Instructions

Step 1: Photograph the tree

Photograph the tree before the pods have fallen from the tree,  although preferably after leaves have dropped. Include the entire tree within the photo. Prior to taking the photo, tack a standard 8.5x11" piece of white paper to the tree trunk (our scale reference). Include the ground. Use the highest resolution camera that you have access to.

Step 2: Collect 25 pods

Once the pods have fallen from the tree, collect 25 representative, dried (brown), whole pods off the ground and put them into one or more plastic grocery bags. The pods should be collected as soon as possible after they fall to the ground to prevent damage from animals. Be sure to choose a representative sample of pods - not the 25 largest! If possible, although not required, please also count the total number of pods that fell from the tree, as this will help calibrate our yield models.

Step 3: Fill out & print the entry form

Fill out the official contest entry form HERE, which includes basic information about you and the tree. You will be able to upload the tree photo here as well. This form will be submitted to us digitally, and you will receive a copy via email. Print a paper copy of your emailed entry to include with your pods.


for the


entry form.

Step 4: Ship your pods & entry form to us

Place your bag(s) of pods and entry form into a sturdy cardboard box. Ship your entry to us at:


Savanna Institute

Attn: Honey Locust Contest

1360 Regent St. #124

Madison, WI 53715


IMPORTANT: If submitting multiple trees/entries, ship each entry separately, using a different box for each. This will ensure that pods from different trees do not mix in transit.

Contest FAQ

Why does the contest last for two years?

Some honey locust trees only bear pods every other year. If the contest were only one year long, we might miss out on some high-yielding trees. While alternate bearing is not ideal, this can be bred out of the trees. Consequently, these trees may still be worth including in a breeding program if their yields are high.

What criteria will be used to determine contest winners?

Contest entries will be evaluated for a range of important agronomic characteristics, including yield, pod size, pod digestibility, pod sugar content, tree thorniness, and tree architecture. These characteristics will be used collectively to determine contest winners. Entries need to exceed current cultivar characteristics to be eligible for the prize.

How will total tree yield be estimated?

The Savanna Institute will estimate the total yield of each entry using the average size of submitted pods and the submitted tree photos. The number of pods visible in the photo can be used to estimate the total number of pods on the tree using models developed by the Savanna Institute. While not required to enter the contest, counting the total number of pods on the tree would be very valuable information to help us improve our models. If you have the time to do this when collecting pods from your tree, please send us the total count!

Why is it important to submit a representative sample of pods, not just the largest ones?

A representative sample of pods is required to fairly compare pod size and yield between trees. Selecting only the largest pods you find beneath the tree does not fairly represent the tree's potential.

Won't entires from southern latitudes have higher yields and sugar content?

Yes, it's true that, on average, entries from southern latitudes will have higher yields and pod sugar content due to the longer growing seasons available for pod development. However, this will be taken into account when judging entries. Rather than being judged on absolute yield and sugar content, entries will be judged on yield and sugar content relative to the average for their climate zone.

What about entries from trees that are existing honey locust cultivars?

Because the contest is in search of novel genetics, we are looking for new honey locust trees rather than existing cultivars. Nevertheless, it is likely that many entrants will unknowingly submit entries of existing honey locust cultivars. The Savanna Institute will genetically test all entries to confirm that they are not known cultivars. Entries from known cultivars do not qualify for contest prizes. Similarly, entries that fail to exceed the characteristics, e.g., size, sugar content, etc., of known cultivars do not qualify for the prize.

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Savanna Institute

1360 Regent St. #124

Madison, WI 53715

(608) 448-6432