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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Forestry > Tree Seedling Nurseries > Tree Improvement Program > What is Tree Improvement? What is Tree Improvement?

Variation of a tree species

All tree species are variable; some trees grow straighter and taller than others. The exploitation of this variation for human benefit is the basis of the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry's Tree Improvement Program. Basically, this means the best individual trees that can be found become the parent trees (or seed source trees) for the future forests of Indiana.

Oak TreeSelecting the Parent Trees

By looking at many trees we get an idea of which of them will make good parents. This is the selection phase of a tree improvement program. A selected parent tree must be a fast grower and have a clear, straight stem. In other words, it must be a very desirable, high quality tree.

Establishing Seed Orchards

A seed orchard is a group of selected trees grown together under intensive management for the mass production of genetically improved, high quality seed. To create a seed orchard, twigs are collected from the parent trees and grafted onto seedling rootstocks. Since all the cells in the same trees are genetically identical, a small twig is all that is needed to create an identical tree by grafting. Thus, all the genetic information and genetic value of the selected parent tree is retained in the grafted tree. These grafted trees are then planted in a field and grown together as a seed orchard. These seed orchards will provide a continuous supply of high quality seed to the state nurseries, which is the end result of the Division of Forestry Tree Improvement Program.

Tree Improvement Program
Vallonia Nursery
2782 W Co. Rd. 540 S
Vallonia, IN 47281
Ph: (812) 358-3621
FAX: (812) 358-9033
poconnor@dnr.IN.gov