Current issue: 56(4)
During the past 30 years, genetics research has accumulated much information on black spruce (Picea mariana). The adoption of less intensive and faster plustree selection, establishment of seedling seed orchards and family selection significantly increased the rate of progress in improvement of the species. In New Brunswick this approach made it possible to obtain substantial quantities of seeds 10 years after the initiation of the program, and now all the seeds used in reforestation are derived from seed orchards.
Fourteen years after beginning the black spruce breeding program, second generation breeding is underway. The possibility of implementing alternative breeding strategies using ”breeding – cloning” procedures are explored for the advanced generation. Until somatic embryogenesis techniques become fully operational, ”backward selection” schemes and crossing in breeding halls followed by vegetative multiplication using serial rooted cuttings can be adopted. Larger genetic gains than those from conventional breeding are expected not only from the utilization of both additive and non-additive variances, but also from the elimination of inefficiencies of large conventional seed orchards.