Genetic Improvement Of Christmas Trees:progress And Possibilities

Each year, over 35 million Christmas trees are harvested and sold in the United States. The need for quality and the relatively high value per tree result in significant opportunities for genetic improvement in several species. Efforts in the southern United States have been primarily directed at Fraser fir (Abies fraseri [Pursh] Poir.) and Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana Mill.), with limited breeding and seed production programs having been initiated. However, to reach the amount of genetic gain potentially available, additional efforts are needed in the selection, breeding and testing of species and individuals with desirable Christmas tree traits. Vegetative propagation techniques have also been developed for several species, and results indicate that both plantlets and seedlings can be successfully utilized for plantation establishment. By combining traditional breeding methods and vegetative propagation, a significant increase in the number of salable trees/acre and market value can be achieved. Keywords: Christmas trees, genetic improvement, Abies fraseri, Pinus virginiana

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Author(s): Craig R. McKinley, Steven E. McKeand

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 1995

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