We are all anxious to have 2020 and Covid-19 and elections behind us. So, I wanted to get you all excited about the year 2031. That’s the year that a new Christmas tree progeny trial will reach harvest (evaluation) size. Only 11 years away!
All these experiments take time for trees to grow, but we are making a start with seed collection. So, some background on this new test. In a Trojan and Turkish fir experiment that we are just finishing, we identified a new species of tree with promise. That is Trojan fir. It looks like Turkish fir but grows in a region of Turkey far to the south and west of native Turkish fir. There were 10 trees that we collected in Turkey that were the top performing trees out of 100 collected. Thanks to a grant from the Christmas Tree Promotion Board (CTPB), seed collectors in Turkey returned to the area and the specific trees and collected seed. That seed will be part of a new trial. Also collected will be seed from outstanding Nordmann fir in the Republic of Georgia, again funded by the CTPB. Individual outstanding looking trees have been selected and the seed should arrive in the US anytime.
All in all, around 30 fir seed sources including noble, Fraser, Balsam, Canaan, Nordmann, Turkish and Trojan fir will be grown at Silva Seed Nursery in Roy Washington. After 2 years in the nursery, the seedlings will be planted at 11 or so sites around the US. from Connecticut to Oregon.
Traits that will be evaluated include growth, budbreak timing, frost tolerance, quality, needle retention, cold hardiness, and of course, how they look as a Christmas tree for your home. That will conclude around 2031. These will likely be the next set of trees that will be used in future seed orchards to keep the industry moving forward with new trees and new ideas.