Norway spruce is often overlooked in preference for Sitka spruce, the latter being highly adaptable, high yielding and easy to establish, with many years of research having been put into Sitka to improve traits such as growth rate and stem straightness. However, given our changing climate and the fact that 60% of conifer crops in Scotland comprise Sitka spruce, there is a real imperative to look into alternative softwood species suited for the future. To address this, Forestry England and the Conifer Breeding Co-op have partnered to undertake Norway spruce provenance trials, studying seed from 16 different European locations. Norway spruce has high drought tolerance compared with Sitka spruce and grows well in upland acidic soils.
Seeds from Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and France have been germinated and grown in Scotland, with 17,200 young trees planted at five sites in Scotland, England and Wales by members of the Conifer Breeding Co-op. The trial will last 25 years and will identify trees with the best overall performance, showing the strongest growth and good stem form.
This article has been published in the Autumn 2021 edition of the Farm Woodland News. Download a copy to access all articles. Subscribe to receive newly published editions via email by using the form here.
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