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Forty Years of Genetic Improvement of Shortleaf Pine in Missouri

Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.) is the only native pine species in Missouri, and its restoration is a top priority in the state. Because of the great interest in the species, a genetic conservation and breeding program for the species was initiated in the1960s by the Mark Twain National Forest, in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Ouachita National Forest. In the 1960s, seed production areas were established by the Missouri Department of Conservation and Mark Twain National Forest. The Missouri Department of Conservation also established provenance tests during the same period. Early results indicated that provenance variation was small, but within provenance variation was large. In the late 1960s, the Mark Twain National Forest selected 66 superior trees from natural stands throughout Missouri. Fifty of the superior trees were grafted into a 1st –generation seed orchard on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. Operational seed collections from the clonal seed orchard were made in 1981, 1983, 1986 and 2003. Currently, all planting and seeding needs in Missouri are met with genetically improved seed from this clonal seed orchard. Open pollinated progeny tests were established in the early 1980s to evaluate orchard parents. A controlled pollinated progeny test was established in 2002 to further evaluate parents in the seed orchard, and to develop a 2nd-generation seedling seed orchard. Progeny test results suggest that genetic variation exists within shortleaf pine, and genetic gain is predicted to be significant. Future challenges and opportunities are discussed. Key words: Shortleaf pine, selection, testing, breeding, seed production

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Author(s): David P. Gwaze, R. Melick, C. Studyvin, Mark V. Coggeshall

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 2005