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Genetic improvement of broadleaves for farm forestry. Assessment and maintenance of ash and sycamore provenance trials - WD0210

Selection of improved ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), both valuable whitewood tree species, is highly relevant to the MAFF policy of encouraging the planting of broadleaved trees on farm forestry sites. Although there has been a substantial increase in planting of broadleaved trees in the United Kingdom in recent years, current commercial planting stock for most broadleaved species (including ash and sycamore) is derived from unselected seed of variable and often poor genetic quality. This study will build on existing work investigating the genetic improvement of broadleaved trees for farm forestry. Work will continue on the maintenance and assessment of British and continental European seed sources for use in farm woodland planting schemes by conducting trials at a range of farm-forestry sites. The primary objective will be to rank the seed sources within and between sites and investigate possible genotype-environment interactions. Each assessment will be followed by statistical and biometrical analysis using programmes available at NRS. Analyses of variance at single sites will be followed by cross-site analyses to investigate possible genotype-environment interactions for all characteristics. Age-age correlations will be made in order to indicate at which year commercial recommendations for superior seed sources can be made. The relationship between volume growth and form will be investigated through the correlation matrix between height, diameter and form. Data for tree heights (adding to data obtained during 1992-1994), stem diameters (at years 8 or 9) and tree form (at year 6) will be obtained in order to fulfil the objectives of trials. Results will enable provisional recommendations of superior planting material to be made. In the longer term, the response of the diverse seed sources to changing climatic conditions will facilitate selection of the best adapted material for those conditions.
The final objective remains that of increasing the value of ash and sycamore timber crops for Farm Woodland Plantings through genetic improvement using cost-effective techniques.

This one-year extension continues the work undertaken in the recent contract WD 0210 from 1996-2000.

Sycamore: Individual tree selections will be made based on previous assessments of form and vigour (to end of year 2000) together with breeder’s assessment in the field. These provisional selections (probably totalling about 100 in all, c 2% of total trees assessed) can be used in future, together with other material, to produce improved material either through clonal or seedling seed-orchards or through mass vegetative propagation (ref 1). The sycamore provenance trials will be maintained for this additional year to facilitate this work.

Ash: At some future date individual tree selections should also be made in the ash provenance trials. These trials have all been assessed for early vigour (refs 1,2,3) and some have been assessed for form. A further assessment for form will be undertaken funded by EU/FC using a protocol for assessing form agreed on a pan-European basis (EU Project “Realising Ash’s Potential” QLRT-2000-00631). Selection of outstanding individual trees (between 100 – 150, c 2% of assessed trees) will eventually be based on these assessments of vigour and form together with the breeder’s assessment in the field. Improved material may be produced in future as a co-operative venture through the Ash Group of the British and Irish Hardwood Improvement Programme (BIHIP) using some of these provisional selections together with mature plus -trees selected by the constituent organisations of Ash Group of BIHIP. Within the limits of the funding suggested by Mr Brand-Hardy(one year budget calculated pro-rata from the 5 year proposal) a review of the individual tree data in the ash provenance trials (desk study) will be made as preparation for field selection

A Report to MAFF/FC on field selection of elite material of sycamore ,and desk-study of selection of elite material of ash, together with progress of maintenance of sycamore trials, will be written by December 2001, and may be circulated to other interested parties if agreed by MAFF.
Original: -

1. Selection of elite individual sycamore trees (based on assessments to date and field observation)
2. Selection of apparently promising individual ash trees (desk study)
Project Documents
• Final Report : Genetic Improvement of Ash and Sycamore for farm forestry, 2001   (125k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1996

To: 2001

Cost: £86,381
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Forestry Authority
Environmental Protection              
Sustainable Production              
Woodland management              
Fields of Study
Fertilisers and Nitrate Pollution
Farm Woodlands