Red alder tree breeding program

In recent history, red alder was considered a minor species in gene resource management in British Columbia. Consequently, tree improvement and breeding efforts in red alder were very limited due to lack of funding.

Currently, there is only one seed production unit (SPU) for red alder, SPU 54.

Seed Production Units

SPU 54 has an upper elevation limit of 700 metres. One open-pollinated, first-generation seed orchard was established in 2013 with an expected annual seedling production of 0.4 million to meet the average seedling request for the period of 2011 and 2015.

Seed orchard parents were selected based on 10-year test results at one site near Bowser on Vancouver Island with about 25 percent expected genetic gain in stem volume at rotation age 40 years. With renewed interest in red alder due to its shorter rotation ages and less uncertainty due to climate change, a total of 13 new provenance-progeny trials have been established in 2015 in a wide range of biogeoclimatic zones.

Data from the provenance-progeny trials will provide information on the adaptability and expected gains of a new seed orchard seed in different environments. Those trials will also serve as base populations for future selections. Selections based on these tests will be made in 2020 followed by incorporation into orchards in 2022.

  • Xie, C.Y.  2008. Ten-year results from red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) provenance-progeny testing and their implications for genetic improvement. New Forests 36:273-284.
  • Xie, C.Y., Y.A. El-Kassaby and C.C. Ying. 2002. Genetics of red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) populations in British Columbia and its implications for gene resources management. New Forests 24: 97-112.
  • Xie, C.Y., C.C. Ying, and P. Courtin. 1996. Genetic variability and performance of red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.) in British Columbia. Proc. Ecol. Manage. of BC Hardwoods. Dec. 1-2, 1993. Richmond, British Columbia.
  • Dang, Q.L., C.-Y. Xie, C.C. Ying and R.D. Guy. 1994. Genetic variation of ecophysiological traits in red alder (Alnus rubra Bong.). Can. J. For. Res. 24:  2150-2156.