A wild service tree seed source trial established under the auspices of Woodland Heritage has published its first report.

The experiment was designed, and its establishment was supervised, by Christopher Guest of CJG Silviculture and Jens Peter Skovsgaard of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Although it is native to Great Britain, there is very limited experience of growing wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) for high-quality timber production. Additionally, almost no timber markets exist in Great Britain, nor have any seed source trials or tree breeding ever been carried out. Little is known regarding the location of the best-quality trees in Great Britain from which seed can be collected.

In contrast, significant silvicultural knowledge exists particularly in France and the Germanic countries, where wild service tree is grown to produce high-quality timber, where markets can be very strong, and where seed source trials and tree breeding have been carried out since the late 1970s.

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To this end, a seed source trial was established in England in 2019 aiming to test some possible seed sources for tree breeding for the production of high-quality timber in Great Britain.

The objectives of the trial are to test different seed sources of wild service tree for survival, growth, health and stem quality in order to provide recommendations for silviculture.

Forestry Journal:

The 41-page report gives a detailed account of how the trial was established, from designing the plots and the first seed collections in 2018, via propagation at Forestart in Shropshire in 2019 then planting out in winter 2019/20, through to the first-year growth results last December.

This pioneering research into this often overlooked but potentially high-value timber tree has been possible thanks to the landowners of Fontmell Hill (Dorset), Sotterley (Suffolk) and Spernal (Heart of England Forest) Estates.

All those involved in seed sourcing, plant propagation, soil analysis, site preparation, planting, measuring and other critical tasks during various phases in the establishment of the trial are also gratefully acknowledged.

Maintenance, re-measurements and future analyses will be supervised by Christopher Guest and Jens Peter Skovsgaard.

For copies of the new report, please go to www.woodlandheritage.org, e-mail office@woodlandheritage.org, or phone 01242 467356.

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