Christmas Tree Breeding
The North Carolina Forest Service is actively involved in breeding several species of forest trees for use as Christmas trees. The most desirable species native to North Carolina include Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), and Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana).
The breeding program involves identifying those trees that produce the most superior Christmas trees and crossing them with other superior trees. Seedlings from these crosses are then field tested in Christmas tree fields to determine the extent of parental superiority. The best trees are then used in seed orchards to produce sufficient quantities of seed for commercial production of seedlings for sale to Christmas tree growers and others. The field tested progeny are evaluated and superior individuals are selected for the next generation of seed production.
Currently, the agency is managing genetically improved Fraser fir, Eastern white pine and Virginia pine seed orchards specifically for the production of seed for Christmas trees. First generation seed orchards have been rogued. Some second generation seed production has started.