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The key goal of NZDFI’s tree breeding work is to produce improved planting stock for growers. Millions of improved seedlings will be needed for planting if we are to achieve the vision of planting 60,000 hectares of naturally durable eucalypts by 2030 and developing a sustainable durable hardwood industry in New Zealand.

In 2020, NZDFI was awarded a $539,000 grant from Te Uru Rākau's One Billion Trees Partnership Fund, much of which will contribute towards accelerating the supply of improved planting stock.

Research programme and methods

Proseed is New Zealand’s largest supplier of tree seed, and is a foundation partner of the NZDFI. Its contribution to the NZDFI’s work includes:

  1. seed collection – from phenotypically superior trees in both NZ and Australia
  2. propagation – developing a range of techniques to multiply up selected parent stock.

Traditionally, tree breeding cycles are slow and expensive. To speed things up, the NZDFI approach is to identify trees with desirable growth and wood quality traits at as young an age as possible, using techniques being developed by the University of Canterbury Wood Quality research team.

At the same time, Proseed is developing novel propagation techniques to then rapidly multiply up offspring from these selected trees.

Some of the advanced propagation techniques with eucalypts have not been used before in New Zealand, so we are learning as we go. Proseed staff  also travelled to Australia to benefit from expertise over there.

Work to date has included:

  • establishment of a clonal seed orchards of bosistoana, E globoidea and E quadrangulata. Scions from ‘Plus Trees’ (best individual trees from top-ranked families in NZDFI breeding trials) have been grafted onto rootstock and then planted out into what will become a seed orchard, with first improved seed anticipated within 2-3 years
  • taking cuttings from coppice stools for rooting using a hydroponic system in the new high-tech propagation house at Proseed’s North Canterbury base.

The first genetically improved planting stock will be available in 2021, when our target is to produce a total of 300,000 plants comprising both seedlings and clonal stock. We will scale up production to meet demand thereafter, with the aim of having 60,000 hectares of improved stock planted by 2050.

Research updates

Check out our Resources, especially our six-monthly Project Updates, to read about how propagation research is progressing over time:

For more details of some of Proseed’s work, have a look at this recent article:

Propagation: a bottleneck in tree-breeding programmes

Key researchers

Paul Schroeder is Proseed’s Propagation Manager. Paul and his colleagues at Proseed work with Ruth McConnochie (NZDFI Tree Breeding Specialist), members of the NZDFI Science Team, and Murray’s Nursery at Woodville.

More information

Contact Paul Millen:



Young cuttings taken from coppice.

E.bosistoana cuttings growing well.


Grafting eucalypts for our clonal seed orchard.

E quadrangulata seed orchard after establishment.

E bosistoana and E quadrangulata stools growing in a hydroponic system.