This project aims to promote the planting of the best quality Sitka planting stock and take forward the Sitka spruce breeding programme.
- To secure the supply of control pollinated full-sibling seed for use by the vegetatively propagated (VP) Sitka spruce cuttings industry
- To encourage the planting of best quality Sitka spruce clonal seed orchards ensuring panmixes (equal contribution of component clones) at harvest so retaining wide genetic diversity
- To continue the Sitka spruce breeding programme, increasing further the genetic gains for vigour but particularly stem and wood quality traits
- To demonstrate the value, and promote the planting of improved Sitka spruce stock within the forestry sector
- To embrace new technologies (tissue culture, DNA-sequencing) as appropriate which help meet objectives in a faster, more cost-effective manner.
Results so far
- Formed in early 2014 as the Sitka Spruce Breeding Co-op, the Conifer Breeding Co-operative is already producing seed for sale to the VP industry.
- New clonal archives are in preparation replacing the aged and over-grown existing clonal archives where controlled pollination has historically proved very costly.
- Plans are in place to monitor the contribution of components clones in seed orchards to ensure relative equal contributions (panmixes).
- Acoustic Velocity data are being collected from existing full-sibling field trials which will add to our knowledge of timber stiffness to be incorporated into plans for future controlled pollinations
- The SSBC has grown out of the Sitka spruce breeding programme which was started in the late 1960s
- Members consist of Forest Research and other interested industrial partners in tree nurseries and forest management
- Newly calculated genetic gains are published on the Conifer Breeding Co-operative website.
- The main output of this co-operative venture between Forest Research and private industry is high-quality improved planting stock in the form of seedlings from the latest seed orchards or rooted cuttings of full-sibling families following controlled pollination and multiplication using vegetative propagation.
- There is an annual pollination programme to generate new seed for sale to industry
- There is an annual field-trial assessment programme to improve Breeding Value data for traits related to quality or growth rate.
Funders and partners
- Funding is an equal partnership between Forest Research and Conifer Breeding Co-operative members from across the private forestry industry.
Forestry Commission policy
Ensuring well adapted, good quality planting stock with the best economic return is a key component of sustainable forestry as promoted in the forest policy documents for Scotland, England and Wales.