Horning Tree Seed Orchard: Producing seed for our local forests

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Have you ever wondered where the seeds that grow seedlings come from? The Horning Tree Seed Orchard in Clackamas County is making sure we have plenty of seeds to produce the trees needed to reforest areas that have been logged or affected by forest fire.

The orchard was established in 1964 and provides genetically improved seed for the Bureau of Land Management and contracted orchard cooperators, including the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry and private timber companies. Over 200 acres are dedicated to the production of conifer seeds.

On a recent tour, the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association viewed the cone drying shed and greenhouses with state-of-the-art computer-controlled environmental control systems. Here, superior genetic stock is developed through a conifer clone grafting program.

In the greenhouse, new seedlings acclimate to the rootstocks they are growing on. In the orchard, the group saw stands of major conifer species and learned about the management of conifer seed orchard trees, and the BLM’s practices to enhance seed production.

The tour ended at the Genetic Gains Trial site on nearby Port Blakely land where Extension Forester Glenn Ahrens discussed the past and future of genetically improved vs. “woods-run” trees (local parent trees). Participants compared local “woods-run” Douglas-fir trees side by side with superior selected strains.

Extension partners with the farm forestry association every year to provide educational opportunities and support to woodland owners. Learn more about Horning Tree Seed Orchard from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.

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