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A comparison of the effect of genetic improvement, seed source and seedling seed orchard variables on progeny growth in Eucalyptus nitens in South Africa

, : A comparison of the effect of genetic improvement, seed source and seedling seed orchard variables on progeny growth in Eucalyptus nitens in South Africa. Tree Genetics & Genomes 9(3): 767-778

Eucalyptus nitens is an important forestry species grown for pulp and paper production in the temperate, summer-rainfall regions of South Africa. A tree improvement programme has been ongoing at the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research for two decades, but genetic improvement in the species has been slow due to delayed and infrequent flowering and seed production. Three trials were established, firstly, to quantify the gains that have been made in the first generation of improvement in the breeding programme and, secondly, to establish whether a number of seed source and orchard variables influence the performance of the progeny. These variables were the amount of flowering trees in the seed orchard, year of seed collection, seed orchard origin and composition of seed orchard bulks. Diameter at breast height and tree heights were measured in the trials at between 87 and 97 months after establishment, and timber volumes and survival were calculated. Improved seed orchard bulks performed significantly better (p?<0.01) than unimproved controls in the field trials. Genetic gains ranging from 23.2 to 164.8 m3?ha?1 were observed over the unimproved commercial seed. There were significant differences (p?<0.01) in progeny growth between the levels of seed orchard flowering, with higher levels of flowering (?40 %) producing substantially greater progeny growth than lower flowering levels (?20 %). The seed orchard had no effect on progeny growth in this trial series. This suggests that seed collected from any of the four seed orchards tested will produce trees with significant improvement in growth.


DOI: 10.1007/s11295-013-0593-0

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