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Longleaf pine seed collection in Texas boosts restoration efforts of this important species

Photo of Abundant longleaf pine cones at the Stuart Seed Orchard in the summer of 2014 point to a bumper seed crop in the fall of 2014. Abundant longleaf pine cones at the Stuart Seed Orchard in the summer of 2014 point to a bumper seed crop in the fall of 2014. Snapshot : Longleaf pine is an unpredictable seed producer and adequate or better seed crops occur once every five years or even more infrequently. Efforts to restore longleaf pine in the southern U.S. are limited by seed supply. Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Southern Research Station and their research partners at the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas conducted visual surveys of a national forest “seed production area” in the spring of 2014 and identified stands that would produce bumper crops in the fall. The seeds were collected in fall of 2014 and will meet the needs of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas for the foreseeable future.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Guldin, James M. 
Research Location : Sabine National Forest, Texas
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1307

Summary

Longleaf pine is known as an unpredictable seed producer, with adequate or better seed crops occurring once every five years, or even more infrequently. In the spring before seed fall, good cone crops can be predicted by visually counting green cones in the tree canopy, which by then are large enough to be seen, especially when using binoculars of suitable power. The primary source of seed for reforestation in the Western Gulf Region is a first-generation longleaf pine seed orchard at the Stuart Seed Orchard in Louisiana, which includes selections from Texas; however, prior to the maturing of southern pine seed orchards, use of seed collected from national forest “seed production areas” was an accepted practice. These seed production areas were located in stands with phenotypically superior mature trees that showed evidence of past cone production. Such stands remain a practical alternative for augmenting seed supplies for longleaf pine, in which adequate or better seed crops are unpredictable. During the spring of 2014, cone surveys in eastern Texas suggested that the autumn longleaf pine cone crop there could be a bumper crop. As a result, staff of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, in cooperation with Southern Region Forest Management staff, planned and conducted a longleaf pine cone collection that was implemented during the fall of 2014. Results were a great success, with more than 1,000 bushels of cones collected, producing nearly 1,000 pounds of seed (equivalent to approximately 5 million seedlings, enough to plant roughly 8,000 acres at typical planting rates). This seed supply will meet the needs of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas for the foreseeable future.