Eucalyptus nitens Breeding and Seed Orchards

2017 Forest Growers Conference
Report No:
Report Date:
October 18, 2017
Mari Suontama: Scion

Eucalyptus nitens breeding

Conference presenter:  Dr Mari Suontama, Scion

In New Zealand, Eucalyptus nitens is grown mainly for pulp wood on short rotations (15-20 years). It grows very fast on the right sites, has outstanding form and is cold-tolerant. The main production area for E. nitens is Southland.

To date, genetic improvement has focused on traits for pulp wood production. The third generation of improved progeny are available.

Eucalyptus nitens is difficult to process into solid wood products because of its high levels of internal checking and shrinkage. A new initiative under the Specialty Wood Products research partnership (SWP) is therefore focusing breeding effort on traits which will enable higher value solid wood production.

New seed orchards established

Research has confirmed that important wood properties including levels of shrinkage, internal checking, stiffness, and growth strain, are all heritable, so will respond to tree improvement programmes. Two new seed orchards have been established in Southland in collaboration with an industry partner. One of these will focus on producing germplasm with lower levels of growth strain, internal checking and shrinkage; the other will provide germplasm for high-quality pulp. A third seed orchard has also been established in North Canterbury, with a focus on volume and wood density.

The business case for E. nitens improvement

There is considerable scope for the genetic improvement of E. nitens to add significant value both for growers and manufacturers of solid wood products and pulp. Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) is an important potential market for E. nitens veneer.

A strong business case has been made for genetic improvement, including the use of genomics to enable more specific traits to be isolated and incorporated into new material. It is anticipated that improved fourth generation planting stock for both enhanced solid wood production and higher quality pulp will become available for commercial planting within the next five years.

The business case for genetic and genomic improvement of E. nitens

25 Eucalyptus nitens Breeding_M Suontama (1.25 Mb)