'Seed orchard' grows 'fruit'

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

An orchard just for growing seeds for trees? That's right. Seeds that will grow first into seedlings and then into new stands of timber come out of just such seed orchards that are the heart of the nationwide reforestation program of the Georgia-Pacific Corporation (GP).

Seed orchards are actually stands of "supertrees" grown solely to provide hundreds of millions of seeds GP uses in its nurseries every year.As one example , in GP's Bastrop, La., seed orchard about 4,500,000 seeds are harvested each year from southern pine trees to be planted to grow into southern pine seedlings.

Similar harvesting of seeds of varying species of trees goes on in other seed orchards of GP, such as those in northern California, at Ft. Bragg; in Bellingham, Wash.; in Woodland, Maine; and Savannah, Ga., as well as in Bastrop, La. The company has such seed orchards in every major timber region of the U.S.

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But to insure successful seed harvesting there must be research, a major factor in GP's reforestation efforts. This research is centered at GP's Pamplin Forest Research Center, in Cottage Grove, Ore.

A major aim of research at Pamplin is the development of what are known as supertrees, trees that can yield superior grafts for seed orchard root stock, to produce the very finest kind of seeds.

It was at Cottage Grove that GP developed specialized equipment that has just been shipped to the firm's subsidiary in Indonesia for the first full-scale tropical forest research and reforestation program in the region. The company's large timber concession is at Batu Redi, on the Telen River.

This concession is mostly prime meranti hardwood, which previously had been reforested with the traditional "barefoot" seeding system. Now, seedlings will be mass-produced in new foam-plastic block containers which will allow planting in the jungle in original soil without root disturbance. It is expected that 12 - to 16-inch seedlings will be grown in only three months for planting, giving GP the capacity to grow about for times the number of trees it harvests each year, it was explained.

A "supertree" orchard is also to be developed on the GP Indonesian holdings.

As recently as 30 years ago, only about 50 percent of a tree was utilized. Today more than 90 percent is turned into a wide range of end products.

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