RPBC opens door to Radiata hybrid

Friday 18 Oct 2019

For the first time in 20 years the Radiata Pine Breeding Company (RPBC) is opening its doors to a new species. RPBC Chairman, Dr Ross Dickson said RPBC would coordinate a Hybrid breeding program looking to cross Radiata pine with Pinus attenuata to produce a fertile Hybrid, producing similar timber and wood products to Radiata pine, from trees that flourish on harsher sites.

“The Hybrid can be looked at as a genetic continuum of the existing Radiata pine genetic resource and the Hybrid genes will extend the site range of radiata pine, as well as providing improved options for managing the impacts of climate change,” said Dr Dickson. “Wood is the ultimate renewable resource and finding opportunities to maximise its growing potential is critical to the future of the industry.”

“The programme will develop the potential for effective commercial forestry on higher elevation and exposed sites particularly in the South Island, as well as sites with similar attributes elsewhere in New Zealand and Australia.” The modest, but well defined and well structured, breeding and research programme proposed in the Hybrid space was brought to the RPBC by the sector.

The current investment in the Hybrid comprises a small breeding programme with like-minded enthusiasts, a deployment programme of approximately 1,000ha/annum across a group of forest growers in the lower South Island, most of which are RPBC shareholders (Matariki Forests, Ngai Tahu, Wenita Forest Products, and Ernslaw One), and a small research programme, which Scion manage as part of their interest in a range of other conifers.

“Industry sees the potential in the Hybrid space and so we are going to bring these disparate elements together to run a modest, but well defined and well structured, breeding and research programme to drive this initiative forwards.”

The programme will trade heavily on the experience and historical learnings derived from the much larger radiata pine breeding programme, managed by RPBC. Pinus radiata is one of three closely-related ‘closed-cone’ pines native to California and parts of Mexico.

Source: Radiata Pine Breeding Company

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