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Tree Breeding

Tree improvement in VenezuelaNhora Isaza, Smurfit Colombia, stands by a 2nd generation selection of P. maximinoi in a Camcore progeny trial in Colombia.

We are able to domesticate trees through selection and breeding. In nature, the forces of the environment naturally select the fittest trees in the population. In artificial selection, we choose those trees that offer the best combination of adaptability, growth, wood properties, and disease resistance. Often times in traditional tree breeding programs, gains in productivity from one improvement cycle to the next are around 15%.  If we have the ability to clone the best selections, an additional 15%-20% improvement can be expected in addition to the gains from traditional breeding.    

Camcore works with Pines, Eucalypts, Teak and Gmelina in its breeding and testing programs around the world. To be successful in improvement and breeding, we must exert great effort to match species to the correct site. Furthermore, we need to understand the reproductive biology of each species that we work with. Some tree species that are moved to new geographic locations (exotic forestry), will not produce flowers (called strobili in pines) in their new setting. The goals in our breeding efforts are to improve adaptability, growth rate, disease resistance, wood quality and cold/drought tolerance. 

In Camcore’s breeding program, we select the best trees in both natural stands and genetic trials and manually cross the “best” with the “best” to produce a new race of improved trees. In the process, Camcore always keeps a large number of trees in reserve in our conservation plantings so that we maintain broad adaptability while improving growth. Some of the most advanced tree breeding programs in the world are now in their 6th cycle of improvement.

Camcore is currently involved in large pine and eucalypt hybrid programs (see hybrids). Our goal is to produce new genetic combinations of trees naturally that are better adapted to different regions around the world.  Hybrids might be especially advantageous in areas of great climatic fluctuation.

Techniques for selection and breeding can range from very simple to quite complex. For example, all of these methods can be useful approaches in tree breeding:

Unimproved Pinus leiophylla Unimproved Pinus leiophylla plantation material in South Africa
Pinus caribaea plantation in Brazil
Plantation established from first generation Pinus caribaea seed orchard in Brazil