SFP grows a range of timber species. Many of these species are not grown on a large scale elsewhere in the plantation forestry industry. Seed for most of these species is not commercially available. SFP has to source the seed for these species itself from select wild trees in the local area.
The trees grown from wild collected seed display a wide genetic variation. A too high proportion of the resulting timber stands have issues with poor form, slow growth, low pest and disease resistance and heavy branching. Tree breeding to produce improved seed to reduce the level of these defects can result in a significant increase in productivity.
The tree improvement program involves conducting progeny trials of different provenances (families) of each species, grown across a range of sites. The growth of each family is monitored and the best performing families are identified. The best performing families are grown together in seed orchards to produce improved seed with a broad genetic base. Increases in productivity of up to 60% can be achieved by reducing defect and producing straighter trees with less branching, faster growth and better pest & disease resistance.
The improved seed produced will be used in-house and available for sale to other timber plantation growers. The higher productivity and greater certainty of success for plantations will benefit SFP and the industry as a whole.