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Title: Hardwood genetics and tree improvement - A Midwest USA perspective
Author: Michler, C. H.; Meilan, R.; Woeste, K. E.; Pijut, P. M.; Jacobs, D.; Aldrich, P.; Glaubitz, J.
Publication: In: Colombo, S.J. (comp.) 2005. The Thin Green Line: A symposium on the state-of-the-art in reforestation Proceedings. Thunder Bay, ON. 26-28 July 2005. Ont. Min. Nat. Resour. Ont. For. Res. Inst. Sault Ste. Marie, ON. For. Res. Inf. Pap. No. 160. 169 p. Pp. 69-74.
Abstract: Fine hardwood trees in the Central Hardwoods region of the United States are an important resource for the furniture, cabinetry, flooring, modular home, and paneling manufacturing industries. Consumers find wood from these trees to be very desirable because of quality factors such as grain, strength and color. To enhance wood production, tree improvement programs can address quantity and quality issues through alterations in genetic traits for growth and vigor, straightness, defects such as pin knots and irregular grain, amount of heartwood and in some cases, wood color.
Tree improvement in fine hardwoods through improved seed production is lagging well behind programs that improve pulp and paper species such as poplar, loblolly pine and Douglas fir. In addition, the majority of hardwood seedlings that are produced by public nurseries are unimproved. Seed is purchased from vendors and collectors and only rarely separated by source. Seed is normally harvested where ease of harvest is the most important factor, thus yard, park, and fencerow trees are often used. Improvement of fine hardwoods has also lagged due to the lack of capital within the industry to fund research and development on the resource. Limited funds tend to be directed towards research in product manufacturing. In the absence of traditional funding sources for tree improvement similar to those that fund conifer programs for pulp production, HTIRC (Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center) relies on industry associations, federal agencies, universities and private endowments to generate annual funding for its program.
The HTIRC program intends to address improvement of genetic traits in improved planting stock of black walnut (Juglans nigra), black cherry (Prunus serotina), butternut (Juglans cinerea), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra), through (1) tree breeding and genetic modification, (2) developing propagation and seed production systems, (3) improving nursery production methods, (4) developing standards for improvement of seedling quality and (5) developing guides for management of the genetics in small, fragmented stands.
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