Selection and improvement of Irish birch and alder
Dr Ellen O'Connor, University College Cork*
Oliver Sheridan, Teagasc
Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Teagasc
Dr Barbara Doyle-Prestwich, University College Cork
* Email: email@example.com
COMPLETION DATE: Ongoing
In recent years the demand for native species has risen in accordance with increased use of broadleaves in afforestation. The birch improvement programme (Betula pendula and B. pubescens) began in 1998 with a view to providing additional native species with timber potential to the Forest Service schedule of acceptable species. The improvement of alder (Alnus glutinosa), a species included in the Forest Service schedule, was initiated in 2005. In the recent COFORD review1, alder and birch were confirmed as native species of high potential for improvement in the Irish context.
The overall objective of the research is the development of a sustainable supply of improved, adapted and healthy seed within the framework of the EU Forest Reproductive Material regulation. The specific steps are:
Location and collection of new material for the breeding programmes is ongoing. In 2009, grafts from 16 new birch and 26 alder plus trees were successfully established.
Clones of 81 alder genotypes, collected in 2006 and 2007, were used to establish a clone bank at Teagasc Research Station, Kinsealy. The birch clone bank was extended using recently collected clones.
The breeding values of the birch and alder plus trees are being tested in field trials. Two alder progeny tests, using seed collected from the 2006 plus trees, were established in 2008 and a third was established in 2009 in Sligo. Trials are monitored for growth and survival; quality assessments will be introduced at a later date. Over the winter of 2008/2009, height, diameter and quality assessments were carried out at two progeny/provenance birch trials that had been established in 2001. Results indicate significant differences between families (Figure 1).
Indoor seed orchards for both birch and alder were established (Figure 2). The alder seed orchard is based on clones of selected plus trees. The birch seed orchard was mainly based on selections within the progeny trials, based on early results.
The best birch trees from the best families, based on the latest data from the progeny trials, will be used to update the seed orchards.
The flowering and pollen release dates of the seed orchard material will be recorded to ensure that the flowering period does not overlap with that of the clones outside. The number of male catkins, and thus pollen contribution, from each clone will be noted.
In 2010, the seed from individual clones in the seed orchard will be collected to determine the contribution of each clone to the overall production of seed.
The alder trials will be assessed for growth and survival and monitored for pests and diseases in 2010.
Hemery, G., Clark, J., Aldinger, E., Claessens, H, Malvolti, M., O'Connor, E., Raftoynnis, Y., Savill, P. and Brus, R. Growing scattered broadleaved tree species in a changing climate - risks and opportunities. Forestry Advance Access published on 24 December 2009. doi:10.1093/forestry/cpp034.
Active participation in BIHIP birch group.
download 2008 report as pdf (pdf 118Kb)
Dr Ellen O'Connor, University College Dublin/Teagasc*
Dr Martin Steer, University College Dublin
Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Teagasc
Jerry Campian, Teagasc
Toddy Radford, Teagasc
* Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMPLETION DATE: December 2009
Demand for native species has increased in recent years. This project continues the work of the birch (Betula pendula and B. pubescens) improvement project that began in 1998. Improvement of alder (Alnus glutinosa) was initiated in 2005.
The overall objective of this research is to provide a secure source of improved planting stock of these native species for the Irish forestry sector. The improvement path for all three species includes:
Grafts of selected birch trees were bulked up and grown on for inclusion in an indoor seed orchard. Two birch trials established in 2001 were measured at planting and after one, two, four and six years. The plantations are approaching the stage where thinning will be required. Field assessments, begun in autumn 2008, will assess the trees after eight growing seasons and provide pre-thinning data to compare with post-thinning data. Growth and quality will be assessed.
Grafts of alder plus trees were bulked up and grown on for the development of a seed orchard and to provide material for an alder clone bank in Kilmacurragh. Three alder progeny trials were established in 2008 using seed from selected alder plus trees. The seedlots were planted in blocks of nine trees (3 x 3) with spacing of 2 x 2m and three replicates per site. Planting heights and diameters were measured to provide baseline data. Sites will be assessed over the years to compare growth, quality and health of the seedlots.
A polytunnel has been prepared to house the birch and alder seed orchards. More plus trees of birch and alder have been identified.
Co-operation in COST E42 led to participation in two publications:
Skovsgaard, J.P., O'Connor, E., Graversgaard, H.C., Hochbichler, E., Mohni, C., Nicolescu, N., Niemistö, P., Pelleri, F., Spiecker, H., Stefancik, I. and Övergaard, R. 2006. Procedures for forest experiments and demonstration plots. http://www.valbro.uni-freiburg.de/
Hemery, G., Clark, J., Aldinger, E., Claessens, H, Malvolti, M., O'Connor, E., Raftoynnis, Y., Savill, P. and Brus, R. Growing scattered broadleaved tree species in a changing climate - risks and opportunities. Forestry (submitted).