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question about pine seedlings

Don Staples dstaples at livingston.net
Mon Aug 17 22:29:17 EST 1998

Robinson wrote:
> I happened to meet up with a forester from the Georgia Forestry
> Commission today, I took the opportunity to ask him some questions and
> got a lot of useful ideas. We were talking about replanting versus
> leaving seed trees for natural regeneration. When we cut our land we
> left seed trees, because I was under the impression that the seedlings
> being sold now are all either clones or have had some kind of genetic
> tinkering done on them. I've always had misgivings about that because I
> believe that while "super pines" may make money faster , it's the
> natural genetic diversity in all lifeforms that protect them from being
> completely wiped out by one disease or bug. However, he said that all
> they are basically doing is speeding up the natural selection process
> with the seedlings they grow and sell. He says they started out back in
> the '50s collecting seed from the best and strongest trees, growing them
> out and culling the weaker ones , letting the strong ones grow and
> collecting seed again, doing the same with the next generation. Now
> that, I don't have a problem with, but before I decide to go buy
> seedlings, I wanted to see if y'all can tell me if he had it right. I
> know I have read somewhere about genetics and cloning work being done
> with pines, but maybe it was just initial research. Whats your opinion
> on letting trees regenerate on their own versus going in a and
> replanting, for a landowner who wants to have a multi use forest for
> hunting and  wildlife habitat as well as make money from the timber
> sales?

Good long question with no simple answer.  20 years ago there was a
little publication released here in the south that indicated that the
super trees were not that super, that silvacultural practices could
reach the same benefits.  Apparently true enough to the point that
Texas, at least, dropped a number of their improved seed sources.  The
selection of super trees as you state above with selection of "superior"
characteristics is correct, I know of no source of cloned, or
genetically manipulated trees, other than selective breeding, not to say
it hasn't been done,just not commercial as yet.  I am sure that if I
have missed one, some one else will know.

Personnally, I think it is a matter of what you want your woods to look
like, and the intensity your going to put into growing trees.  A well
managed plantation of super trees (or any other) that is fertilized,
pruned, herbicided, thinned at proper intervals, will produce maximum
fiber.  But little else.  A selectively managed stand will have a
riotous mix of plant life, and animal, that is more in line with some
land owners goals.  You can plant to 600 to the acre, or let nature do
it with several thousand, and select the ones that do the best, your own
genetic experiment.

To answer the question you need to make a management decision on what
you want at the end.  You can buy the seedlings, have 'em planted in
neat rows, or let nature do it.  For me the answer is,if you got trees,
keep trees and thin.  If you have bare land, plant pines, and hardwood,
where the hard wood sites are located.

Leaving the seed trees may not have been enough, what kind of site prep
prior to the harvest was used?  Any burning?  Herbicide to reduce the
hardwood invasion?  Enough seed trees?  Maybe a shelter belt?  The
forester may have been politely telling you that your stand did not
regenerate, and needs help.

Keep looking, and talking with the Georgia foresters.  If the state hand
is one of the milk feed young kids, try a consultant, or a company hand
that harvested the tract, get more opinions, do a cost/benefit study, go
out and survey the seedlings on the ground, lots to do, and so little
Don Staples

Web Offerings:  http://www.livingston.net/dstaples/

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