Created Genetic Material for Superior Pine

In Florida, where forest crops in general and pines in particular have the largest economic impact of all crops, southern pines have long been an economic mainstay. Florida’s southern pine germplasm, the state’s store of genetic material for this essential crop, is the fastest growing in the U.S. and southern hemisphere.

The Cooperative Forest Genetics Research Program (CFGRP) in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation has developed a highly advanced crop of slash pine that is now grown widely in North Florida and southern Georgia. The genetic material for nearly all of Florida’s 4 million acres of planted pine came from CFGRP selections. The use of genetically improved stock yields from 30 percent to 57 percent more wood than unimproved pines. The value of the genetic improvements the CFGRP has made to the southern pine crop is considerable, with benefits estimated at $500 million more than if growers had planted unimproved material.

The CFGRP continues to breed loblolly and slash pine to increase volume growth, strengthen trees’ resistance to fungal disease, improve wood properties, and yield an array of wood selections suitable for a variety of commercial uses. It also has established a research program in pine hybrids. Today, UF/IFAS breeders are working toward developing selections that will be more suitable for renewable chemicals, biofuel, and bioenergy production.