Clonal material to boost timber plantation stocks

Rodger Peters in a stand of 7 year old trees of clone 545 at Toolara State Forest, Queensland. DPI Forestry photo.

Rodger Peters in a stand of 7 year old trees of clone 545 at Toolara State Forest, Queensland. DPI Forestry photo.

State Forests of NSW is the first third-party forest agency in the world to be granted commercial access to the leading Queensland southern pine hybrid clonal material.

“This is a major step forward for State Forests southern pine establishment,” said tree improvement program manager Michael Henson.

“The cuttings of this material will replace seed stock as the prime material for southern pine plantings in NSW.”

The clonal material, from the Queensland Department of Primary Industry – Forestry is the first to be released outside Queensland.

It will be propagated at the State Forests Grafton nursery, where rapid advances are being made in hardwood and softwood cloning techniques.

“Hopefully we will be adapting the same hardwood mini-cutting technology for the pines,” Mr Henson said.

“The clones will be phased in. We will establish 10 ha this year rising to 100 per cent planting by 2007.”

State Forests has already established 12,000 ha of southern pine in northern NSW with an annual planting rate in recent of years of 2,500 ha.

DPI Forestry staff estimate gains of 15 per cent volume at maturity over State Forests’ current planting stock.

“There will be additional gains as the stands will be more uniform with improved wood quality,” Mr Henson said.

“Queensland has been involved in the pine hybrid development program for more than 45 years since the first experimental hybrids between slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. elliottii) and Caribbean pine (P. caribaea var. hondurensis) were made in 1958. The hybrid combines Caribbean pine’s fast growth and fine branching with slash pine’s excellent stem straightness, wind firmness and tolerance to poorly drained sites.

“This early pioneering work has resulted in the more recent development of elite clones of the slash x Caribbean pine hybrid that are only now becoming commercially available to third parties.

“We are gaining the advantages of DPI Forestry’s long term and ongoing tree improvement investment in just a few short years.”

State Forests will pay DPI Forestry a royalty based on the number of hectares planted to the clones.

Part of the agreement is for DPI Forestry to establish trials in NSW which will help identify the best clonal material for planting in the north of the State as well as assist in the development of the new generation of clones.

Media contact: Michael Henson on (02) 6650 5703 or 0408 029 355. Pictures available on request.