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PF Olsen Increases Investment in Controlled-Pollinated Seed

Thanks to over 50 years of Radiata pine breeding in New Zealand, we can now access genetically improved treestocks that grow faster, straighter and have better wood qualities. In 1995, PF Olsen invested in a control-pollinated (CP) pine seed orchard in Blenheim so we could provide our clients with the best genetic quality seed and seedlings. This 10 ha CP seed orchard comprises Radiata pine clones that were ranked highest for genetic quality by the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC). These clones were grafted and planted as mother trees.

Six genetic qualities, or GF Plus® traits, are identified by the RPBC, namely growth, straightness, branching habit, Dothistroma resistance, wood density and spiral grain. Controlled pollination is achieved by bagging young female cones and manually applying pollen from a superior male parent. This means that the genetic quality of both parents is controlled, providing a much higher level of confidence that the sought-after qualities will be exhibited by the progeny (seeds⇒tree-stocks⇒trees⇒wood). PF Olsen is producing hundreds of kg of CP seed each year to meet market demand, but in recent years, demand has exceeded our production capacity.

Young cones are bagged at PF Olsen CP seed orchard ready for controlled pollination. Despite modern times, it's very much an "arranged marriage" for these cones!

In order to meet the demand, PF Olsen is developing a second CP seed orchard near Blenheim. This is expected to at-least double, or even triple, our CP seed production in a few years time. This investment will ensure that PF Olsen's clients will have access to affordable seedlings with superior genetic quality.

Mature green cones ready to be picked at PF Olsen seed orchard.

As you can see, it is quite an involved process to produce genetically superior CP seeds. After the cones are picked, they are laid out in trays in the glass house for drying.

Cones laid on trays for drying in a glasshouse.