The Benefits of Genetic Diversity for International Forest Co.
By Jim Tule¹
International Forest Company grows some of the most Genetically Diverse Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) containerized seedlings in the Southwestern United States. It is through their membership and association with the Western Gulf Forest Tree Improvement Program (WGFTIP) that this Genetic Diversity is expressed. Genetic Diversity is important to all forest users and it has both economic and ecological value. Loblolly pine contains a high level of natural genetic diversity and tree improvement programs are committed to maintaining genetic diversity in trees for the future.
What is Genetic Diversity?
- Genetic diversity separates species
- Genetic diversity makes individuals within a species different, even when the effects of the environment are constant
- Genetic diversity within a species exists between geographic regions, stands within regions and trees within stands
Why is Genetic Diversity Important?
- Genetic diversity is important to the health of a species
- Genetic diversity allows a species to adapt to change in the environment
- Loblolly pine is one of the widest-ranging and most economically important conifers in the Southern United States, harvested for both pulpwood and solid wood products
- Loblolly pine is not threatened or endangered, because new stands are planted or naturally regenerated on millions of acres each year
- Conserving genetic diversity is an important aspect of sound species management
How do Tree Improvement Programs Affect Genetic Diversity?
- Genetic diversity is the raw material for tree improvement programs
- Tree improvement programs work with a sample of the genetic variability present in the natural population
- Breeding populations are managed to enhance variation, which can result in genetic combinations not seen in the natural population
- Breed populations are often subdivided. This avoids inbreeding in the production populations and ensures a high level of genetic diversity in the breeding population
- Tree improvement programs are careful not to rely on only one or a few genotypes
The Western Gulf Tree Improvement Program is a cooperative tree improvement project founded in 1969 with the objective of providing the best genetic quality seed for use in forest regeneration programs in the Western Gulf Region of the United States. There are currently 13 members represented by 4 state agencies and 9 industrial and private land owners. Genetic variation is the natural resource on which all breeding and genetic improvement programs are based and therefore conservation of genetic diversity is considered good natural resource stewardship, a prerequisite for evolutionary change and an obligation to future human generations. The cooperative is conserving and improving populations of five Southern Pine species and several hardwood species (Loblolly pine, Slash pine, Shortleaf pine, Longleaf pine, Virginia pine, Cherrybark oak, Water/Willow Oak and Nuttall oak).
IFCO continues to be a member of the WGFTIP. It is through this membership along with other cooperative ventures that IFCO is a steward of a genetically diverse forest. IFCO is committed to the breeding and testing programs of the WGFTIP and has completed 3 generations of tree breeding resulting in significant genetic gains in volume growth. Along with volume growth, wood quality characteristics such as stem straightness, wood specific gravity and microfibril angle are also considered as important selection criterion in their breeding populations.
The seed utilized in IFCO’s regeneration efforts are collected from Seed Orchards derived from these extensive breeding and testing efforts over the past 44 years. These breeding efforts have resulted in the deployment of genetically improved seedlings from certified seed orchards throughout the South. Much of the seed that the Evans Nursery Complex will utilize in 2014 comes from IFCO’s Seed Orchards in Louisiana. Loblolly pine seed is collected and stored for future use from this Seed Orchard annually. Seed and seedling deployment is based on the breeding and testing completed by the cooperative over the past 44 years along with the correlation of the soil mapping that was completed through past land ownership. These correlations have led to the deployment of the best genetically improved seedlings being matched to the soils that show superior growth characteristics. These characteristics are then matched to plant hardiness zones resulting in superior growth. It is through this process that IFCO assists landowners in the deployment of their seedlings to regenerate their forests and deploy seedlings to regenerate their Forests.
The deployment of seedlings in the Western Gulf Region along with IFCO’s other Nursery operations is based on their original provenance, their growth and yield characteristic based on years of genetic breeding and testing, along with the soil characteristics of the tracts that are to be regenerated and the silvicultural practices to be employed for their tracts. All of the being considered has resulted in a superior genetically diverse sustainable forest for the landowner.
References: Byram, T.D., Lowe, W.J. and Gooding, G.D. 1999. Western Gulf Tree Improvement Program Gene Conservation Plan for Loblolly Pine. Forest Genetic Resources No. 27.
Weir, R.J. 1996. The Impact of Genetics on Forest Productivity. Alabama’s Treasured Forests, Spring 1996; p 19-21.
Western Gulf Tree Improvement Program. Tree Improvement and Genetic Diversity in Loblolly Pine. Texas Forest Service, Circular 300.
1. IFCO Facility Manager, International Forest Company, 23194 Hwy. 111, DeRidder, LA 70634
“Be Smart Before You Start”
We are promoting the concept of “Be Smart Before You Start” and remember “ Not All Seedlings Are Created Equal”. This is encouraging landowners to become knowledgeable about all of their options before starting a new forest.
Recently, the Southeastern Society of American Forester’s (a part of the National Society of American Forester’s professional organizations) held a conference in Panama City, Florida around the theme of “Twelve Tons per Acre per Year”. This was addressing if growing twelve tons per acre per year of timber is possible, what is necessary to make it happen and is it economically feasible. The answer to all of these questions was “yes” but it depends on a lot of factors which all addressed in our decision pyramid.
As addressed in Dr. Phil Dougherty’s presentation, being competent to implement what you know is critical to achieving twelve tons per acre per year at whatever your desired results may be. I would encourage anyone trying to each an objective that they use the advice and guidance of a qualified and competent forestry professional. One of the purposes of the meeting in Panama City was to inform professionals of the options available. As in any profession, procedures must keep up with technology and science available to know all the options. Please choose foresters, contractors, and nurseries carefully before you undertake your forestry investment.
From this meeting, it is clear that there are many choices available to landowners that were not available just a few years ago due to the change in dynamics in the forest industry and science. It is not a single plan of one process fits all.
Dr. Mike Clutter with the University of Georgia who is a noted authority in economics noted that returns on a great silvicultural which includes things like site preparation, nutrition management, tree spacing, competition control, planting stock type, and genetics play significant roles in your rate of return on your investments. Dr. Clutter noted that from 15% to 22% return on investment was possible on silvicultural done right.
As you prepare your plans for the future, I encourage you to consider all your options. If you have tree planting in your future plans, ordering seedlings by spring or earlier will insure you that you have the best choice of genetics available.
If you have more questions about these ideas, feel free to call our staff and discuss options.
R. Wayne Bell, Chief Operating Officer
Freeze Damage to Seedlings:
Please click on the following link to see more about the “Freeze Damage Alert”.
INTERNATIONAL FOREST COMPANY PURCHASES EVANS
SEED ORCHARD COMPLEX NEAR DERIDDER, LOUISIANA
- Nation’s Largest Producer Of Container Tree Seedlings Significantly Expands Capacity
- New Facility Will Expand Company’s Production Capacity To 68 Million Trees Annually
(Moultrie, Georgia)—International Forest Company (IFCO), the largest producer of container tree seedlings in the U.S., has purchased the Evans Seed Orchard Complex near DeRidder, Louisiana.
The facility was purchased from the Hancock Natural Resource Group. The approximately 411 acre property includes enough loblolly and slash seed orchards to produce more than 30 million seedlings annually for the western gulf geographic area. IFCO is a member of the Western Gulf Tree Improvement Cooperative which is based out of Texas A&M University.
IFCO, based in Moultrie, Georgia, made the acquisition on behalf of its sister company, International Forest Genetics and Seed Company (IFG&S). IFG&S was formed in 2013 to focus on bringing the latest genetic improvements for forest trees to landowners throughout the Southern U.S.
The acquisition will add to the company’s existing capacity, including a facility under management in Kinston, AL with the Alabama Forestry Commission, an agreement with the Georgia Forestry Commission on their Hawkinsville seed orchard, and a new orchard facility under construction in Moultrie, GA.
IFG&S started control mass pollinating seed in the spring of 2013 and collecting open pollinated seed at the new facility.
In addition to producing exceptional pine seed, IFCO will immediately start the construction of facilities to grow more than 8 million container seedlings for new and existing customers in the western gulf region. This will add capacity to the existing 60 million container seedling production facility that currently produces loblolly, slash, longleaf, shortleaf, and Virginia pine in Moultrie.
The existing staff, Jim Tule and Glenn Herr, will remain in place and additional personnel will be added to meet the production requirements. Mr. Tule and Mr. Herr have extensive experience in the tree genetics and tree seedling business.
With this addition, IFG&S can now supply the top rated pine genetics for customers throughout the South from Texas to Virginia. This fits well with the IFCO strategy of marketing known forest genetics to landowners through its “Be Smart Before You Start” marketing emphasis.
“IFCO is not just trying to be a grower of seedlings but a producer of a total product that includes genetics, seedlings and insight of how to use the genetics to give the best field results for landowners, ” said Wayne Bell, Chief Operating Officer. IFCO is a member of the Texas Forestry Association, Louisiana Forestry Association, and the Arkansas Forestry Association as well as 5 other research cooperatives and several state and national forestry associations.
If you have questions about the new facility and doing business with IFCO, please contact Wayne Bell or Chris Johnston at the Moultrie, Georgia office at 800-633-4506 or visit our website www.interforestry.com. R Wayne Bell
Evans Seed Orchard
Contact: Jim Tule/409-382-7063
23194 Hwy. 111, DeRidder, LA 70634
International Forest Company is dedicated to “Helping People Grow Trees” and as our staff attends meetings and learn new information concerning the forest industry we want to share with you.
International Forest Co. 800-633-4506