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April, 2015

Diverse Forests, Emerging Opportunities

Issue 3, April 2015

A very successful start to the year

This newsletter is the third in our series on Diverse Forests and the first for 2015. We have, however delayed this until the beginning of April due to a few significant events.

We held a Swiss needle cast workshop with international expert Professor Doug Maguire following the annual conference of the radiata research programme, Growing Confidence in forestry’s Future. Both events were held in Christchurch. We also have some good news for redwood and eucalypt growers.

In February, Scion hosted the Bay of Plenty branch of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association at the Scion nursery, followed by a walk along the ‘dog walking area’, which is where Scion has much of its germplasm collections including species such as Coast redwoods, eucalypts, Douglas-fir and cypresses.

Most importantly, to keep you up to date on the new Partnership bid that has been submitted to MBIE, we presented the proposal to a review panel assembled by MBIE on 26 March. The panel comprised end-users, a business adviser and an iwi relationship adviser. We felt the 90 minute presentation went well, and we were able to address the key points. The review panel will now make a recommendation to the MBIE science board, which is likely to meet in April. We expect to hear from them in May. Thanks for all your support in helping us get to this point.

We hope that this newsletter provides a good update and we look forward to sharing some research results with you in the next issue.

Heid Dungey & Patrick Milne

Hybrid pines show enormous potential

Shaf Van Ballekom examining hybrid pines.

Scion scientists Charlie Low, Heidi Dungey and Mari Suontama, along with Shaf van Ballekom from Proseed, visited several South Island trial sites of Pinus radiata, P. attenuata and the hybrid between these two species. These hybrid pines have enormous potential for cold, high-altitude inland sites in the South Island and are particularly suitable where forests become susceptible to damage from wet snow events. Pinus radiata (radiata pine) is often very badly damaged by such events and may not even be salvageable on some sites. 

The hybrid may also be suitable to help obtain resource consent for planting Douglas-fir by providing a barrier to Douglas-fir wilding escape, as it is a closedcone pine with a much lower likelihood of spreading.

The hybrid pines were particularly impressive at one site, Ribbonwood Station, near Omarama (photo above). Hybrids were straighter and larger than P. attenuata and had a greater survival rate than P. radiata.

To obtain seed to test this hybrid on your estate, contact Shaf Van Ballekom at Proseed. (Note: the hybrid is susceptible to Dothistroma needle blight so should not be planted where this disease is present).


Farm foresters visit Scion nursery

On 27 February, the Bay of Plenty branch of the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association visited Scion. The visit included the Scion nursery, and a walk down the Long Mile to visit some of Scion’s genetic resources of the alternative species. The visit was thoroughly enjoyed by participants and there was a lot of interest and discussion on genetics, pines, eucalypts, cypress, natives, bark & bio-fuels.

Sustainable Farming Fund boost for two key research programmes

Coast Redwood

We are pleased to announce the success of the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) request submitted by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) for the Getting to the Heart of Coast Redwood Durability research programme. The programme was well supported by industry, including the New Zealand Redwood Company and New Zealand Forest Owners Association (NZFOA), as well as in kind from Rayonier/Matariki and the NZFFA.

The programme aims to develop a robust method to rapidly assess the likely durability of a sample of redwood timber. This will benefit NZFFA and redwood growers by delivering an ability to identify seedlots/clones that are both durable and non-durable, and increasing the knowledge of the heartwood properties from New Zealand grown redwood.

We would like to thank Scion ecophysiologist Dean Meason for his determination and efforts in helping to secure this programme.

Funding confirmed for Paropsis biological control agent

We are also delighted that a second SFF request submitted by the NZFFA, and supported by Diverse Forests up until now, has been funded. The Improved Control of Paropsis Charybdis Larvae with the  Larval Parasitoid Eadya Paropsidis programme was well supported by industry, including South Wood Exports Ltd, Carter Holt Harvey and the NZFFA, as well as with Scion Core funding. In kind support has also been given by all partners, Timberlands and Earnslaw One.

The project aims to complete host specificity testing of the parasitoid of Paropsis charybdis within containment at Scion’s Rotorua secure facilities, and apply for its release if it proves to be safe for the New Zealand environment. If successful, the project will benefit all growers of eucalypts from the subgenus Symphyomyrtus by eventually seeing Eucalyptus Tortoise Beetle populations under effective suppression by a natural enemy.

We would like to thank entomologist Toni Withers for helping to secure this programme.

Eucalyptus tortoise beetle, Paropsis Charybdis.


An update on Swiss needle cast research

Doug Maguire

On 26th March, we held a workshop on Swiss needle cast (SNC) in Douglas-fir. Presentations were given by experts and concerned industry participants. We were fortunate to have Professor Doug Maguire from Oregon State University (see photo) share his experience with SNC in the USA. Scion’s Dr Ian Hood also presented on his experience as a pathologist working with this fungal disease for some years.

Charlie Low and Scion’s new geneticist Mari Suontama presented New Zealand’s genetics knowledge on the resistance to SNC. Workshops were then held to highlight key areas of research and key priorities. These will be documented in a short proceedings and sent to all participants. These priorities will help us determine where funding and projects will be sought to help mitigate the effects of this needle disease for Douglas-fir. If we can make significant progress, it is possible that once again we will see this species planted on the warmer sites in New Zealand.

There was excellent discussion and debate during all the sessions and we would like to thank all the participants for their involvement and contribution to the success of the event.

Copyright 2014 NZ Forest Research Institute, trading as Scion. All rights reserved.
Diverse Species News is published quarterly, and is also available in hard copy format.

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