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TUBEX and Future Trees Trust ‘Advancing Growth Together’ UPDATE!

23 July 2014

Significant projects, investigations and developing techniques…

Future Trees Trust has had a very busy quarter, with TUBEX funding the research activities of Dr. Jo Clark as well as supporting the Development Officer with funding applications and tours of the research facilities at Earth Trust. One of the more significant projects Jo progressed with this quarter was an Oak Phenology Study. Phenology is the science of recurring events in nature. It includes flowering, budburst, seed set and dispersal in plants. Phenology is important because it relates to plant fitness. A mistiming can result in frost injury to newly emerging flowers with a corresponding lack of growth or seed production. In 2003, Future Trees Trust established eight breeding seedling orchards (BSOs) across Britain and Ireland, to investigate the performance of 62 families of oak. One of the objectives for the group is to breed trees less prone to shake. Shake is a timber defect that affects oak and sweet chestnut trees and can only be discovered once a tree is felled. Ring or star-shaped fissures open up in the trunk of the tree and can be many metres long, seriously reducing the timber quality of a tree trunk. Shake is related to the size of the vessels in the tree’s trunk but further research is needed to see if it can be eliminated through selective breeding. Determining whether a tree is predisposed to shake can be done by identifying the timeframe in which the trees’ budburst. Those that have later budburst are more prone to shake. The 62 Oak families’ time of budburst were assessed on four of the breeding seedling orchards that were established in 2003 across Britain. The results from the study are still being analysed – further details in the next update! Jo has also been busy leading the Defra-funded Living Ash Project, a five year project into identifying ash trees from across the UK that show some resilience to die-back and developing techniques to reproduce breeding material from resilient trees rapidly. Jo co-ordinates the work of all the project partners – Earth Trust, Future Trees Trust, Sylva Foundation and Forest Research.