Project Update, July - December 2020

  In this issue:

Implementing the NZDFI strategy: establishing sustainable regional hardwood industries

NZDFI has reached a significant milestone, with the first generation of improved Xylogene nursery stock on track for planting in 2021.  This is the result of twelve years of hard work by NZDFI’s tree breeding team supported by the Marlborough Research Centre, Proseed NZ’s propagation specialists and the UC School of Forestry’s wood quality research team. We have benefitted from industry and Government support including the MBIE/FGR Specialty Woods Products (SWP) partnership and more recently MPI’s One Billion Trees partnership fund. Also the landowners who continue to support us by hosting NZDFI’s expanding network of trials and who can now establish new forests.

  • NZDFI's strategy for sustainable hardwood industries

Our national strategy is to develop a sustainable NZ hardwood industry by establishing twelve regional wood-supply catchments based on centrally located future wood processing sites (Map 1).

NZDFI’s goal is for sustained investment in planting programmes from 2021 to 2050 at sufficient regional scale (5,000 ha in each wood supply catchment) so that future investment in hardwood processing is economically feasible. A regional focus will deliver employment and other benefits to local communities, and be environmentally advantageous.

The 40km ‘as the crow-flies’ radius  shown on the map is an indicative boundary of each wood supply catchment. The land area within each catchment where planting new hardwood forests could be an option has been identified. This is based on farmland in LUCs 5-7, and existing plantation forestry land.

More information


Map: Potential regional supply catchments to support a sustainable hardwood industry. The circles show an indicative 40km radius catchment, centred on a possible processing site location.

  • Implications of a regional wood supply catchment and centralised processing

A report produced for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) - ‘Assessment of afforestation and future wood processing opportunity with non-radiata species – Wairoa District’ (Peter Hall, Scion 2020) - includes a comprehensive analysis of the implications of a small-medium scale hardwood processing operation.  The area of durable hardwood forest required to be planted over the next 30 years to sustainably supply either a small or medium processing operation (e.g. a sawmill and associated remanufacturing) is estimated as follows:







The study demonstrated that the northern Hawkes Bay region could benefit significantly from planting sufficient forests for a future integrated sawmill and remanufacturing operation. The economic implications of a small sawmill are estimated as follows:

  • Volume of logs harvested:           50,000 cubic metres/year
  • Direct employment creation:      185 - 200 regional FTEs
  • Total employment creation:        485 – 670 FTEs
  • Direct contribution to GDP:         $ 85.2m  per annum
  • Return on capital employed*            ~25%

If this can be scaled up the cumulative national benefits generated by 12 wood supply catchments supplying regional hardwood processing industries could add over $1 billion per annum in GDP and provide thousands of jobs.


  • Working in partnership in priority regions

More detailed analyses for regional wood supply catchments are underway, starting with two of the key regions that have supported NZDFI, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay. Regional proposals are being developed in partnership with the Greater Wellington and Hawke’s Bay Regional Councils with future processing sites identified in Masterton and Wairoa respectively. In both these catchments, proposed planting targets of 5,000 hectares of forest would require less than 2.3% of the total potential land identified.

Details of the Wairarapa proposals are here, along with a new video featuring Wairarapa growers and their land management advisers.

The regional proposals will be presented at two workshops in the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay in the autumn of 2021. A third workshop is planned in Marlborough in winter/spring 2021.


2. New on-line extension resources

New on-line ‘Guidelines for Growers’ are being created for potential growers, forest managers, consultants and regional land management advisers.

The resources comprise a series of modules including:

  1. Right tree, right place: why grow durable eucalypts?
  2. The NZDFI vision
  3. Regional strategies and resources
  4. Choosing the right growing regime
  5. Developing a planting plan
  6. Timber properties, utilisation and markets
  7. The economics of growing durable eucalypts
  8. The Xylogene brand.

The resources include new videos, downloadable handouts, and links to other sites and resources where relevant.


  • WIDE Trust funding acknowledged

A recent application to the WIDE Trust for funds to assist with developing our extension resources was successful. We are grateful to the Trust for their support.



3. Recent SWP/NZDFI trial assessments

NZDFI’s tree breeding and forestry consultancy team has visited a number of trial sites over the past few months.

Three of these visits were to assess tree growth and form in breeding populations. Two assessments were made in Marlborough - at the E. globoidea at Avery’s and E. quadrangulata at Cuddon’s, both planted in 2011. Also the E. quadrangulata planted in 2016 at NZ Redwood Company’s Paparoa forest near Taumaranui was assessed.

Two additional visits were made to install new permanent sample plots (PSPs) in species demonstration trials planted in 2018 - at the NZ Redwood Company’s Paparoa forest and at Pāmu’s (Landcorp) Kapiro farm in Northland.

UC’s wood quality research team have also been working in two of our breeding populations to take thousands more cores to assess heartwood development and durability.

Thanks are due to all landowners for their continuing interest and in some cases assistance with trial assessment.

SOme results from two of these recent assesments are presented below:


  • Avery’s 2011 E. globoidea tree breeding trial, Marlborough






The Avery trial located south of Seddon, Marlborough, was planted in 2011. This is on one of NZDFI’s driest sites with average annual rainfall of 638mm and periodic summer droughts typical of the area. The trial has excellent value to NZDFI in helping identify the top families for drought tolerance and productivity in low rainfall areas.

The trial includes one of three E. globoidea progeny trials (breeding populations) planted in September 2011 to select superior genotypes of this species for future deployment, the other two sites being Juken NZ Ltd’s Ngaumu forest (Masterton, Wairarapa) and the Atkinson trial (South Wairarapa).  These three sites provide a broad representation of genetic diversity and express the adaptability of genotypes across different environments.

Interim results from Avery's trial
  • Overall tree survival at Avery’s is 62% (38% mortality).
  • Individual family survival ranged from 96.9% to 20.3%.
  • There is significant variability in growth across the site, reflecting a combination of both genetic and site influences. Optimal growth was noted in the sheltered gullies and mid slopes.
  • The diameter range is 40mm – 208mm with an average of 87.8mm.
  • 21% of surviving trees were classified as un-measurable. These trees were typically located in the exposed or very dry blocks located across the site. These were stunted due to very dry conditions with some growing as a ‘mallee’ (multiple leaders growing from a lignotuber) form that is common in eucalypt species from very dry areas of Australia.
  • Crown health is generally good throughout all surviving trees. There is minimal insect browse evident.

Assessments for straightness and form were completed in blocks that had 14 or more trees with DBH measurements (equating to approx. 40% survival in the block). Initial analysis has identified that top families already identified at both the Juken NZ’s Ngaumu trial and Atkinson’s trial were also surviving and performing well on this site.

Other work at the site

UC’s wood quality research team was also recently at Avery’s, taking cores to test for heartwood quantity. Further analysis of the family data from all three sites is planned once the assessments of wood properties from the cores have been undertaken. The entire Avery trial has now been marked up and thinned.

The NZDFI video team (Paul Millen, Harriet Palmer and Daniel Bozcniewicz) were the other recent visitors to Avery’s in December, filming two videos featuring E cladocalyx and E globoidea.

Our thanks go to Fraser Avery and family for their on-going support of NZDFI work.


  • Pāmu /Landcorp 2018 demonstration trial, Northland

The Kapiro demonstration trial was planted in 2018 on an area of paddock and former woodlot. Here the average annual rainfall is 1600 mm and being in the ‘winterless north’, provides a stark contrast to some of our drier trial sites such as Avery’s.

The trial was assessed in late November with the trees just over two years of age. Data analysis has revealed that early tree growth of all species at this site has been the most productive recorded so far in any NZDFI trial of this age. The trial includes reps of a range of different seedlots of E. bosistoana, E. globoidea, E. macrorhyncha and E. quadrangulata to test their relative performance. All species have exceptional height and diameter growth.  E. quadrangulata, which is known for its rapid early growth, was particularly impressive with E. globoidea not far behind. Some trees were over 8 metres in height!

Due to this rapid growth the trial will be low-medium pruned in February.

Thanks to Gordon Williams, Pāmu’s forestry manager and John Hallgarth, Kapiro farm manager who assisted in establishing this trial.



  • E quadrangulata breeding trial update

Eucalyptus quadrangulata is the third principal species of NZDFI’s tree breeding programme. Recent work has advanced identification of superior families and development of clonal propagation techniques.

In the past six months two assessments of our E quadrangulata breeding trials have been completed, at Cuddons, Marlborough (planted in 2011), and NZ Redwood Company’s Paparoa trial in the central North Island (planted in 2016). Cores have also been collected by UC wood quality team from the older trees at Cuddons. Both trials were marked up and have been thinned.

Our thanks go to the Cuddons and Jack Burgess (NZ Redwod Company) for their on-going support of NZDFI work.

The E. quadrangulata clonal work is based on the 2016 plantings made at Murray’s Nursery, Woodville. These trees were sampled to evaluate growth strain and other wood properties in very young trees. Seventeen families with below average growth strain and above average growth have been propagated from coppice regrowth of trees felled for wood quality assessments.

The Paparoa trial data has been used to narrow down the family list, and the top ten families selected for further propagation, with a target of 5,000 rooted cuttings to be ready for planting in trials in spring 2021.


4. NZDFI One Billion Trees project update

  • Proseed is making progress with successfully multiplying mother plants of the clones selected for mass propagation and planting in 2021 (see Section 5 of this newsletter)
  • Scion have also started their work with Proseed to assess the influence of mycorrhiza on the rooting and performance of cuttings from E.bosistoana.
  • Seed has been collected from Proseed’s grafted E. bosistoana clonal seed orchard (CSO) and from selected top individuals in one of NZDFI’s E. bosistoana breeding populations and two E. globoidea breeding populations These breeding populations have been under management for conversion to seedling seed orchards (SSO). These seedlots have been supplied to three commercial nurseries that are contracted to produce a total of 300,000 E. bosistoana and E. globoidea seedlings of improved genetic value for planting in 2021.

Since June, there has been significant interest in the opportunity to establish the first elite nursery stock being produced with the support of our 1BT partnership project. This has come from forest growers and farm foresters already involved with the NZDFI programme as well as new landowners. However, not all nursery stock has been allocated so further enquiries are welcome.


New trial sites scheduled for 2021

Site visits have been made to those properties with potential for new NZDFI trials to be established. A provisional list of ten sites is under consideration and trial designs have been developed. These include genetic gain trials of several species, new E. bosistoana progeny trials and several E. globoidea seedling seed stands (SSS) based on seed from the collections made in the NZDFI breeding populations. The E. globoidea seedling seed stands will be established to provide a source of improved commercial seed and may be planted as pedigreed stands to allow rogueing as further data refines family performance. This will result in improved genetic gain from future seed collections. The establishment cost is greater for the pedigreed option.

Morgans Rd Nursery, Marlborough have been contracted to raise seedlings for these trials.

Initial planning has started on the launch of the XyloGene improved nursery stock that will include a planting event in Marlborough in early spring 2021.


5. Proseed propagation latest

Contributor: Paul Schroeder, Proseed Ltd

Proseed NZ Ltd has been a NZDFI partner since the Initiative’s inception in 2008. Thanks to the recent funding boost from MPI’s One Billion Trees Partnership Fund, work at Proseed into multiple systems for rapid propagation of improved durable eucalypt planting stock continues apace.

  • Establishing and managing seed orchards

The focus is currently on developing our E. bosistoana seed orchard, although both E. globoidea and E. argophloia material are being archived for possible later use. Work in the E. bosistoana seed orchard includes rogueing to continually improve quality, with gaps being filled by new selections.

 Insect pests are a threat to seed production, and we continue to watch closely for signs of eucalypt leafroller (Strepsicrates macropetana) infesting flowering (see Section 7 of this newsletter for more about the leafroller).  Flowering has begun and as yet no damage has been observed.  Should there be any, spraying with Delfin BTK (a bacterial insect gut pathogen) will begin.  This appeared to be an effective control last season.

Some insects are essential, of course - it has been interesting to observe a wide range of insects pollinating the eucalyptus flowers so far this summer.  Bumblebees, numerous native bees, flies and even a yellow admiral butterfly have all been at work amongst the flowers.

Improved seedlots of E. bosistoana and E. globoidea seed collected from both our own seed orchard and NZDFI breeding trials which are being converted to seed orchards have been supplied to three commercial nurseries to produce Xylogene nursery stock for planting later in 2021.


  • Cutting propagation for the NZDFI 1BT project

Propagating cuttings is a major area of Proseed’s work, with the aim being to produce clonal Xylogene nursery stock from selected parent material. The cuttings are being taken from potted and hydroponically grown stools. Finding the optimal hydroponic nutrient mix has proved challenging, but a new custom mix has corrected earlier nutrient deficiencies.

Setting of cuttings has become a constant process with management of settings now directed towards production of planting stock. The 2021 target is now 20,000 clonal E. bosistoana plants.

Progress with E. quadrangulata selections is positive and 5,000 clonal nursery stock of this species will be produced.

Finding the optimal production system for clonal plants

A lot of attention has been given to finding a suitable production system for our clonal plants. We need to maximize productivity of our propagation space, but the relatively low strike rates of durable eucalypts so far requires cuttings to be densely set in small cells or plugs.  The Transplant Systems cell trays used so far have proven unsuitable due to seriously deformed root development.

Setting of pine cuttings in Jiffy propaplugs has given a vastly improved result so trial settings of eucalypts in this system have been made. The Ellepot paperpot system has also been identified as having promise and future settings will be made using this system.  A supply of 20,000 filled plugs for summer setting has been prepared using the Ellepot production line at Scion Nursery.  Whole plugs containing rooted cuttings will be potted on into larger ‘forest tubes’ for growing on as planting stock.  The forest tube system is already established in New Zealand and is the one that Proseed uses to raise radiata pine grafting rootstock.



The E. argophloia archive at Proseed.

E. bosistoana seed orchard at Proseed.

A native bee visiting E. bosistoana flowers.

A bumblebee visiting E. bosistoana flowers.

Newly potted cuttings in Forest Tubes.



  • In Vitro culture research for the NZDFI 1BT project

Under NZDFI 1BT partnership project Proseed is working with Dr David Leung at University of Canterbury to accelerate multiplication of E. bosistoana material using laboratory based tissue culture techniques.  Work to date is very promising with shoots successfully introduced into and maintained in a sterile environment.  David is now working on the final step: producing roots.


  • Other growers

Stool material has been given to Arborgen and Scion nurseries to try clonal propagation.  Arborgen has reported good success with material supplied from the first set of clones and have since been supplied with a range of clones from the new set, as has Scion.


  • University of Canterbury PhD Student support

Proseed is assisting UC PhD student Leslie Mann by raising plant material to study the effects of insect defoliation on growth.


6. Wood quality research

Post-peeling trial

Posts and poles for vineyards and other agricultural and horticultural uses are considered a key market for naturally durable hardwoods. A recent trial assessed the feasibility of manufacturing posts using an existing post peeling machine, the Schälprofi 500 (Posch), an Austrian tractor-PTO mounted machine, owned and operated by Steve Winsloe, Peak Equipment, Invercargill.

A full technical report into the trial will be available in the Resources section soon; in the meantime, the post peeler can be seen in action in this video.

New reports available

Three recent reports from the University of Canterbury Wood Quality Research Team are available on the NZDFI website:

This excellent dissertation uses three techniques to estimate the size and possible value of the CCA-treated wood market for NZ’s primary industries. This novel market research is extremely valuable to the NZDFI, as we have identified posts and poles for agriculture and horticulture (including viticulture) as being a key market for NZ-grown naturally durable hardwood posts. This report estimated post demand by agricultural farming, viticulture and the apple and kiwifruit sectors is 300,000m3 annually. The annual value of this market is estimated at $210-240 million based on retail value of $700-800 per m3.

The objective of this study was to rank families in terms of extractive content estimated using NIR (near-infra-red) spectral measurements made of cores collected in the 2012 E. bosistoana trial located in Juken NZ Ltd’s Ngaumu trial (Wairarapa).

This study modelled the value of E. bosistoana trees when used for rotary peeled veneer production. The results were encouraging, with a positive net discounted return calculated for veneer production, and additional income possible from the sale of rotary peeled cores as posts.


Research into eucalypt drying techniques

Contributor: Vikash Ghildiyal

Over the past six months, I have been working on my research proposal. My PhD topic is “Understanding drying defects and improving the drying quality of Eucalyptus”.

My first objective will be to evaluate tree breeding as a tool for managing the collapse of NZDFI Eucalyptus globoidea and potentially E. quadrangulata, ultimately improving the quality of the NZDFI breeding stock. I will also investigate drying methods and the mechanisms behind the drying with a focus on collapse development.

As part of work towards my first objective, I assessed the Cuddon E. quadrangulata breeding trial by coring over 400 trees in October 2020. Heartwood quantity was measured from the cores. Preliminary analysis of the data suggested heartwood quantity is under genetic control in this trial and not strongly correlated to tree diameter, indicating the need to consider heartwood quantity as an independent trait to DBH. Collapse was detected during drying in some of the core samples. Extractives content, volumetric and tangential shrinkage, recoverable collapse and basic density will be measured soon.

In November 2020 I visited the Avery E. globoidea breeding trial, where we cored around 2700 trees. Heartwood quantity was measured and the core samples showed a good amount of heartwood. Preliminary analysis of the data suggested heartwood quantity being under genetic control in this trial and correlated to tree diameter, opening up the possibility of genetic improvement. Collapse was prominent in the E. globoidea cores and should be partly under genetic control. Other properties will be measured soon.

The next step will be assessing the 2011 E. globoidea trial located in Juken NZ’s Ngaumu forest.


Coring E. globoidea at Avery's trial site.

Labelling samples in the field.

Undried E. globoidea cores with heartwood dyed pink after application of methyl orange.

Prediction of extractives content using NIR.



7. Eucalypt health

Contributor: Dr Steve Pawson

NZDFI/SWP’s forest health research programme has expanded with summer student Robb Eastman-Densem undertaking a project looking at the eucalyptus leafroller. Robb has collected caterpillars from four sites around Canterbury, four sites in Marlborough and one site in Rotorua. The aim is to examine which species are affecting eucalypts and in future to ascertain the sex pheromone. This may then provide an environmentally sustainable control tool using mating disruption. The leafroller feeds on the new shoots and is of most concern in Proseed’s seed orchard. It can kill the terminal leader of young trees.

PhD candidate Leslie Mann has completed a second round of field sampling in Marlborough looking at spring defoliation and growth of different species, families and cultivars to compare with last year’s growth measurements.  Leslie is now preparing for a controlled glasshouse experiment to look at the impact of artificial defoliation on growth and carbon/nitrogen allocation within the plants. We hope that this will give us a good insight into tolerance amongst two species, E. bosistoana and E. globoidea.



Classic leaf roller damage with tip held together by webbing and the larvae feeding inside.

Similar damage by leafrollers.

8. Final word from Paul

Happy New Year for 2021. New Zealand was lucky to have a Covid-free summer break until late January, so I hope you enjoyed a relaxing holiday as I did!

Paul and trial site host Warwick Lissaman while making a video at the Lissamans site in December.

We made significant progress in the second half of 2020 with both the NZDFI consultancy team and UC’s wood quality team out in the field assessing and managing our trials. It’s always exciting to gather data in new trials and this was particularly so in November when we measured the incredible growth of trees planted in the two-year-old trial at Pāmu’s Kapiro farm in Northland. Neither Ruth McConnochie nor I have ever seen this level of productivity in any other NZ eucalypt trials. As a consequence we plan to establish new trials this year at Kapiro and at another nearby Pāmu farm.

Propagation has also been completed by the three nurseries that are producing the NZDFI’s first 300,000 Xylogene seedlings under our 1BT project. While most of these are already booked there are a limited number of E. bosistoana seedlings and clones still available for planting in spring this year. Anyone interested should email as soon as possible.


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