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Conifer seed provides an important food resource for many woodland mammals, birds and insects, including some of Britain’s rarest species. This Research Note brings together information from a number of sources on cone and seed production by the main conifers planted in Britain. This information can help managers assess the seed resources of their woodlands and manage the woods for the objective of seed production, whether for food or to encourage natural regeneration. Cone and seed crops fluctuate annually and the amount of seed available in good compared with bad seed years, as well as the frequency of good years, depends on a range of factors which include tree species, age of the crop and climatic conditions. Some species such as Scots pine produce moderate but consistent crops of seed every year, whereas others are much more variable. For example, in a good year Japanese larch can provide the greatest amount of seed and energy per area of woodland of any conifer species grown in Britain, whereas in a poor year production is almost negligible. The time of year when seed is released differs between conifer species. Woodland management can influence the continuity of seed supply as well as the quantities of cones and seed produced. Managing to provide a continuous and abundant seed resource involves consideration of woodland age structure and species composition as well as choice of appropriate interventions.


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Publication type
Research Note
Publication owner
Forestry Commission