1 Consultant, Radiata Pine Breeding Company, Rotorua
How many times have we heard the tired expression ‘this industry is at the crossroads’? I have tried to think of a better expression, perhaps ‘decisions made now will decide the future of this industry’. Whatever the phrase, it certainly does apply to New Zealand’s forestry industry. The papers preceding this commentary outline the chronological and technical progress which has been made in improving New Zealand’s most economically important tree species, Pinus radiata. Phenotypic selection of this species began in the early 1950s (see John Butcher paper), and with the rapid development of quantitative genetics (see Heidi Dungey et al. paper) an estimate, which is becoming increasingly more accurate, can be made of the heritability of the phenotypic trait being measured. This could be growth rate, wood density, disease resistance, wood stiffness etc, and is a result of the interaction of the genotype with the environment. Armed with this information, collected over many years on three to four generations of slowing improving tree populations, plant breeders moved to put this genetic information to best use for the industry through the development in the 1980s of the GF Scheme. (no keywords)
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