Seed withdrawal, preparation and transport

Each year, several thousand seed withdrawals occur at the Tree Seed Centre. About 90% of these are seedling requests (SRQ) entered on SPAR. The remaining 10% are requested and entered on SPAR by Tree Seed Centre staff for research, education, public relations, private land reforestation and direct seeding.

 On this page:

Learn more about the Seed Planning and Registry (SPAR) application

Seed withdrawal requests are filled to meet nursery sowing dates, providing there is sufficient time to prepare and transport the seed. Seed withdrawal requests from current-year cone collections may also be scheduled, provided sufficient notice is given to the Tree Seed Centre and there is sufficient time to complete seed processing, testing and preparation for use.

When insufficient time is available for germination testing, a species average (SA) or seedlot estimated germination (SE) is used. These are temporary germination rate estimates for the seedlot and are used to calculate potential trees and grams of seed required for a seedling request.

Seedling requests

Only registered seedlots may be used for Crown land reforestation. These seedlots and their attributes are listed on SPAR. On the ground, we are transitioning from forest blocks harvested with a forest development plan under the Forest Practices Code (FPC) to blocks beginning to be harvested under forest stewardship plans under the Forest, Range and Practices Act (FRPA).

  • For FPC blocks, seed of the best genetic quality must be used. This promotes the use of select (orchard-produced and superior provenances) seed preferentially over standard or wild-stand seed
  • When entering a seedling request for FRPA blocks, select a seedlot with a Genetic Worth of five percent or greater. This guidance applies if seed is available and if it can be obtained at a reasonable price.

Requests for seedlings may be made using registered seed by the respective owner(s) or other agencies if the seed is identified as surplus. Seed listed on SPAR as surplus is available to other agencies.

Non-ministry use of a ministry seedlot

The Tree Seed Centre will invoice the purchaser for the cost of the seed and requested services after the seed has been shipped to the nursery using the current fee schedule. For B.C. Timber Sales-owned seed, invoices will come directly from that organization.

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Surplus portions of non-ministry seedlots

The Tree Seed Centre will review these requests daily and send email notification to the seedlot owner. Interested purchasers should contact the owners to verify seed availability and cost.

When a purchase agreement has been reached, the Tree Seed Centre should be contacted to update the pending request on SPAR.

Transfer of surplus or reserved seed from one agency to another is completed by the Tree Seed Centre, providing the seedlot owner has approved such a transfer via fax, email or mail.

Requests for other purposes

To submit a request for seed to be used for research, education, public relations, private land reforestation or direct seeding, email or fax the request with the seed owner's authorization in writing to the Tree Seed Centre.

There are two types of direct withdrawal requests:

  1. DWD - direct withdrawal dry
  2. DWP - direct withdrawal with preparation

If you are growing seedlings on speculation (without a contract), it is preferable to enter this as a sowing request on SPAR, and not a direct withdrawal.

Receipt of request information at the Tree Seed Centre

Requests for seedling production or other purposes are downloaded from SPAR into the Tree Seed Centre's local information management system (Cone and Seed Processing System or CONSEP). The Tree Seed Centre checks each request to ensure that information required to process it is available and that it can be processed as requested.

Changes to existing requests, missing information, scheduling or other problems are resolved in consultation with Tree Improvement Branch staff, the grower, and/or the seed owner.

Seed preparation

Nurseries or clients may request that seed be forwarded dry for preparation at the nursery or other facility. Seed preparation covers stratification and pelleting.

Seed preparation, or "stratification," involves a variety of treatments, and normally includes soaking in running water, draining or drying, and a period of chilling at 2 to 5°C. Selection of the best treatment to break dormancy and encourage rapid and uniform germination depends on species and germination test results. Times to complete these treatments are considered as minimum standards.

Western redcedar and red alder seed is usually pellet-coated at the request of the nursery as a way to increase seed size, weight, and uniformity for ease in handling during precision seeding. The Tree Seed Centre provides seed-pelleting services through a contract with a private pelleting service agent.

Most seed stratification and pellet facilitation continues to be performed by the Tree Seed Centre at the request of the nursery. It is offered on a fee-for-service basis. Invoicing for seed preparation will be forwarded to the requesting agency once seed is sent to the nursery.

Seed transport

Tree Seed Centre staff work hard to ensure that seed shipments arrive on time and as requested or scheduled. Transport arrangements made with the client are most often by overnight courier service. All seed shipments are packed in insulated containers for protection and an ice pack is added to keep seed cool, but not frozen, during transport.