Seed Origin - First, Last, and Always

Yeatman, C.W, 1976, Seed Origin - First, Last, and Always. Information Report PS-X-64., Petawawa Forest Experiment Station Chalk River, Ontario.

The proper genetic make-up of seed and plants used in re¬≠forestation is a basic requirement to success i.n The proper genetic make-up of seed and plants used in reforestation is a basic requirement to success in plantation management. Natural evolutionary forces of mutation, selection, migration and isolation result in tree populations that differ genetically across and along major environmental gradients. In the rigorous Canadian environment, climatic adaptation is of paramount importance to survival and growth. 

Planting and direct seeding provide both the risk of failure due to ignorance or laxity in control of seed origin and the opportunity to ensure that only genetically appropriate material is used. Progressively better choices will be possible as experience and information accumulate and genetically improved seed becomes available. Provenance studies in commercial pine and spruce species have shown that both good and poor sources can be identified in a given climatic region. However, in the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, it remains a safe rule to use seed of local origin. The essential and critical point is to know the true origin of seed and seedlings used in forestation. 

Evidence in support of strict control of seed collection and distribution is reviewed for black and white spruce and jack, red and white pine. Each species exhibits its own well defined variation on the general pattern of climatic adaptation. 

Delineation of seed zones on ecological criteria is the first approximation to seed control. The boundaries of a zone are useful to practical management by setting outer limits for seed movement. Seed zones are not adequate for identification of seed origin. Systems of seed zones need to be under constant review and subject to modification, species by species. An example is given from data of jack pine provenances growing at two sites in northern Ontario. 

Good seed management calls for long-term planning of supply, control of seed collection, and knowledge of seed origin through the nurseries to the forest. Designation and management of natural stands for seed production is particularly urgent in major commercial forest areas. Future supplies of genetically improved seed must be built on this foundation if breeding is to be successful. Responsibility needs to. be shared by all levels of management, administration and research. 

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