SFF project summary

Project Title: Establishing forests of genetically improved durable eucalypts in NZ drylands
Grant No.: 10/034

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: Marlborough Research Centre Trust (MRCT) on behalf of the New Zealand Dryland Forest Initiative (NZDFI)
Contact Person: Gerald Hope
Address: Marlborough Research Centre Trust
Private Bag 1007
Blenheim 7240
Telephone 1: 03 5772370
Telephone 2:
Facsimile: -
Email: GeraldH@wineresearch.co.nz

Project Details

Status: Finished
SFF Funding: 354,667
Total Project Funding: 896,884
Proposed Start Date: Jul-10
Proposed Finish Date: 2013/06
Region: Canterbury, Marlborough, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa
Sector: Forestry
Climate change
Sub-sector: Farm forestry
Topic: Alternative land use
Climate change
Information transfer

Last udpated: August 2013

Final Report

Project description

The NZDFI’s strategy is to breed and develop forest management systems to grow eucalypts that produce high value naturally-durable hardwoods by establishing large breeding populations for genetic improvement of four wild (unimproved) species in five NZ dryland regions.

NZDFI’s extension programme will encourage new forest investment that will diversify land use, mitigate climate change, and reduce soil erosion.

The issue/opportunity

New Zealand’s primary industries need sustainable land use options that are resilient to the effects of climate change. This is particularly so in NZ drylands where, in recent years, there has been an increase in prolonged droughts.

New Zealand is too reliant on radiata pine which accounts for 90% of plantations. Eucalypts account for only 1% of timber production. NZ has demonstration plantings of many eucalypts but only Eucalyptus nitens and E. fastigata have been planted on any scale. Both are not durable and are unsuited to drylands. Other species planted in NZ have not been improved and existing stands are a very narrow genetic resource that severally limits screening to remove undesirable features.

With CCA-treated wood now banned for many uses by countries in Europe and by the USA there are significant international and domestic markets for naturally-durable timbers.

NZDFI have selected species that:

The context/background

Durable eucalypts are likely to sequester carbon at higher rates than pine. Their rapid growth rates combined with their wood being twice as dense, age for age, as radiata pine makes them highly eligible as species for MAF’s Afforestation Grants Scheme and Emissions Trading Scheme.

This SFF project leverages off the existing interest shown by potential growers and those seeking sustainable products for use in their business or communities – electrical network companies, winegrowers, organic farmers and regional government.


Latest Update

The breeding populations of E. bosistoana that were planted last year in Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough have had excellent survival and early growth. Further maintenance has been required in a number of the breeding populations and demonstration trials planted in 2011. An early screening of these is planned for completion in April/May.

Four weather stations have been installed at Marlborough sites.

Two NZDFI regional field days have been held; one in Gisborne on 14th November and the other in Wairarapa on 13th February 2013.

The final SFF funded NZDFI workshop/field trip will be on 25th May 2013 at the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury.


The difficulty of meeting stringent international phytosanitary requirements against increasing market demand for residue-free fruit is a serious challenge for New Zealand’s fresh fruit export sector. Codling moth and leafrollers are two significant pests that threaten on-going market access. There is zero tolerance for codling moth in apples exported to Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and India. Similar tolerances also apply for leafroller pests, including lightbrown apple moth (LBAM), in the USA, Mexico, Thailand and India. Control at this level requires a high certainty of pest outcomes that ultimately determines on-going access for New Zealand apples to these markets, and future high-value markets (e.g. Korea). While the pest management requirements are easily achieved for Europe, their supermarket buyer programmes now increasingly demand residue-free produce. Furthermore, new far-reaching EU pesticide legislation will significantly limit pesticide availability and future use on our apple crop. In short, the current position of crop protection in the $350M apple export sector is confronted by significant market incompatibility issues: the need for both ‘pest-free’ but ‘residue-free’ fruit. Our apple growers are not alone in facing these challenges, but the sector must be more innovative than its southern hemisphere competition to secure market premiums.

The significance of these pests requires MPI to review regularly the sector’s phytosanitary outcomes with respect to ‘sensitive markets’ where special measures are required to ensure that export apples are free of these pests e.g. the regulatory ‘Codling moth sensitive market programme’ and the USDA Pre-clearance quarantine inspection programme. Any proposed changes to pest management procedures must not threaten these on-going market access outcomes. New control measures must therefore be fully tested and provide the required pest risk-management information before it can be recognised as a control programme that is appropriate for these markets’ phytosanitary risk management requirements. Mating disruption systems for both codling moth and New Zealand’s three leafroller species use specific sex pheromones and may provide a new basis for acceptable pest risk management that is also ‘residue-free’. This project will develop and expand the use of sex pheromone-based mating disruption systems for control of these two major pest groups on export apples and integrate this approach into existing insecticide technology, with the goal of achieving both ‘pest-free’ and ‘residue-free’ fruit.

This project was undertaken with a major Hawke’s Bay supply group and export packhouse. We measured the phytosanitary performance of codling moth and leafroller mating disruption systems on at least 40 orchards in 2012, involving ~250 ha of export apple production. Newly developed pheromone technologies for improved mating disruption of codling moth, and a new dispenser designed to disrupt all leafroller species attacking pipfruit are being tested and integrated with new insecticides in comprehensive pest management programme to help facilitate the production of insecticide ‘residue-free’ fruit. New pheromone trap monitoring systems and thresholds for leafroller activity for justified insecticidal intervention within a mating disruption programme were developed in 2010 and evaluated in 2011 and 2012.

Codling moth and leafroller control with mating disruption has been highly successful over three seasons with a programme that has expanded within this grower-packhouse supply group from ~90 ha to 250 ha of apple orchards. High degrees of codling moth and leafroller control were achieved again in 2011-12 (e.g. no leafroller larvae found in phytosanitary inspections from any production sites). Our focus on codling moth risk management has identified the significance of immigration of mated female moths from nearby host plants as a factor affecting the success of mating disruption. The use of mating disruption as a residue-free crop protection technology has expanded to approximately 2600 ha of apple production nationally, largely through the profile and recommendations provided to growers from this programme. Two new pheromone technologies were developed through the support and impetus provided by this programme to encourage wider adoption of mating disruption systems. They include a new more cost-effective pheromone dispenser that releases two separate pheromones for the simultaneous control of codling moth and all three pest species of New Zealand leafrollers. Another development from this programme was technical data on the performance of pheromone puffers under New Zealand conditions. This approach uses a timer-based pheromone delivery system of just 2.5 puffers per ha, for season-long suppression of codling moth mating. Reviews of programme performance with the sector and NZ MPI will provide the basis for re-negotiating the control measures used in programmes for the supply of fruit to phytosanitary-sensitive markets. Growers’ increased use of pheromone technology for pest management based on the findings of this programme has substantially reduced the incidence of insecticide residues on harvested fruit. It is now both possible and practical to produce apple crops that are completely free of insecticide residues, a significant goal for this programme.

Weed control has been completed of all trials planted in 2010 and 2011.

Survival assessments were completed in Feb-March within the 2011 trials with survival ranging from 78% up to 100%. The average survival was 93%.

Survival and height assessments of the 2010 demonstration trials are being analysed and will be reported in the next progress report.

Seedlings for further breeding populations have been assessed and ....seedling of..... families of E. bosistoana will be planted into three sites this year to extend the breeding population of this species. Also, seedlings propagated from improved seed of E. cladocalyx (7,000) and E. camaldulensis (4,000) are planned for planting in several mass selection trials.

Sites for these additional plantings have been secured with landowners located in Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and Marlborough.

University of Canterbury (UoC) on behalf of NZDFI has submitted a six year $3.8 m R&D proposal to the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MSI)’s specific ‘Targeted Research’ fund for purpose-driven research, science, and technology aligned with national priorities that generate economic, environmental, or social benefits for New Zealand. This included a specific category for genetic development/improvement of emerging species that are economically useful and/or environmentally beneficial. MSI’s decision will be known in August.

Maintenance continues of all E. bosistoana breeding populations and demonstration species planted in 2010. An early genetic assessment is planned this autumn of the trees planted in 2009.

Seed germination has been variable of the four naturally-durable eucalypt species being propagated for planting into breeding populations this year. However, over 30,000 E. globoidea are planned for planting three breeding populations with smaller plantings of E. quadrangulata (9,000), E. tricarpa (1,500) and E. argophloia (4,000) also planned.

Seedlings for planting up to ten regional demonstration trials of a 10 species of durable eucalypts have also been propagated. The demonstration trials are being planned for planting at sites offered by landowners in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wararapa, Marlborough and Hawkes Bay.

A study has been completed of early heartwood formation within 3x provenances of five year old E. globoidea that are growing in trials in Marlborough. This study showed that intensive selection of individuals within the NZDFI breeding populations will capture trees with higher density and early heartwood. Felled trees are now coppicing. This coppice growth will be cut in April 2011 and used by SCION to test vegetative propagation with cuttings.

A leaflet has been developed to provide an introduction and overview on the NZDFI. This will be available soon on line at www.nzdfi.org.nz

Registration application forms will soon be available on line for the NZDFI/School of Forestry professional workshop and field trip on 'Developing a Eucalypt Resource' to be held 3 and 4 November 2011 at the Marlborough Research Centre in Blenheim. For more information email info@nzdfi.org.nz