Metla Project 3334

Genetic gain and genetic diversity in improved forest regeneration material

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Duration: 2002-2006   Keywords: artifical regeneration, cone and seed damages, direct sowing, forest tree breeding , genetic diversity, genetic gain, seed orchard
Research project group: Distinct projects 1 - Structure and function of forest ecosystems


The results of forest tree improvement are utilised through the artificial regeneration of forests. The improved forest regeneration material is produced generatively in seed orchards specially established for this purpose. Growth and timber quality can be improved when genetically and physiologically high quality seed-orchard seed is used instead of stand seed.

The aim of the research project is to upgrade the state of knowledge about improved forest regeneration material, and to develop methods to combine the partially contradictory goals of seed production, genetic gain and genetic diversity. In order to reach these aims, more information is needed about the breeding values of plus trees, variation in flowering and the seed crop, flowering phenology, pollen flow and pollination, and cone and seed damage. More efficient utilisation of the results of tree improvement also requires knowledge of the different methods associated with the use of forest regeneration material, such as seed sizing in nurseries and the direct sowing of seed orchard seed.

The functioning of seed orchards and the properties of improved forest regeneration material have earlier mainly been studied in connection with the research project Breeding and seed production populations (3076). Although the main focus of the present project is at the Punkaharju Research Station the Parkano Research Station and Vantaa Research Centre are also important contributors. The project is co-operating with several other research projects in the field of forest genetics and tree breeding. The project also aims to establish co-operation outside the Finnish Forest Research Institute with the universities of Helsinki and Oulu, the seed orchard owners, and related research groups in Sweden and Poland.


Two dissertations were completed in the project in 2002. They treated options for improving the functioning of seed orchards and making breeding programs more effective, respectively.

First experiments comparing seed orchard and stand seed in direct seeding were established. According to the preliminary results from the first growing season it seems that the seed type does not have any effect on the number of emerging seedlings. However, seedlings originating from seed orchard seed are clearly taller than seedlings from stand seed.

Project leader: Nikkanen, Teijo
The Finnish Forest Research Institute, Punkaharju Office, Finlandiantie 18, FI-58450 PUNKAHARJU, FINLAND
Phone: +358 29 532 4226

Other researchers: Heiskanen, Juha, SU (2002-03), Kinnunen, Kaarlo, PA (2002-06), Napola, Marja-Leena, VA (2002-04), Pulkkinen, Pertti, VA (2002), Ruotsalainen, Seppo, PU (2002-06), Savonen, Eira Maija, PA (2002-06)

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Updated 12.06.2012