Plantations and tree breeding – an example from Hungary

Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia L.) was the first forest tree species introduced and acclimated from North America to Europe at the beginning of the 17th century. It is a fast growing, nitrogen fixing, site tolerant, excellent coppicing species with frequent and abundant seed production and relatively high yielding potential. In Hungary, this species has played a role of great importance in the forest management, covering approximately 23% of the forested area and providing about 19% of the annual timber output of the country. This post discusses the importance of black locust plantations in Hungary. Check it out! 

What is a tree plantation?

Tree plantations are different than forests, but for a non-professional it could be similar. There are also trees on the site, but the other aspects are strongly different.

Plantations are made for wood production without any other (social or nature protectional) objectives.

Why do we need plantations?

The reason is simple: we should utilize somehow the lands where the normal agriculture does not work and we have to produce wood for the industry.

But why should we load more demand on the natural or close-to-natural forests – we can establish plantations with intensive manegement, produce more wood there and relieve the mountain forests better.

A perfect example for plantations – Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Mechanical properties make Black Locust a widely used and well-graced wood material.

Variety plus trees with high production in a comparative plantation (see the common ones in background). Photo credit: Silvanus Group Ltd

It is a hardwood with around 0.7 t/m3 density, and it produces this material in a short time. Normally the harvesting period is 30 to 35 years which is quite low compared to oak, beech and other hardwood species in Europe. The logs are suitable for building, furnitures, parquet, poles, wooden games etc., but the most important is: it lasts very long outdoor without chemicals.

Black Locust is also a famous firewood and can be planted in energy plantations.

If it is not enough, in the other hand this species has excellent nectar production – Black Locust has a famous and beloved type of honey.

Furthermore, it is a drought tolerant tree species and can be even more importance in temperate climate areas in the future if we calculate with global warming.

Why do we need varieties?

The features of species can be improved by breeding methods – this fact leads to the development of new varieties. We would like to show some examples in case of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia).

Black Locust has varieties for ornamental and street planting objectives but there are also some varieties in the forestry. Shipmast Black Locust is one of them, it has a nice straight stem – ideal for pole production.

There is another way of breeding which was started in the 1980s. The main objective was to select the fastest growing trees in the early years in order to have a variety which produce much more wood than common Black Locust. This selection was a multiple-staged method with official comparative experiments and after almost 30 years a variety was bred which has the yield around 150-200% of the common ones. These fast growing varieties are suitable for productive energy plantations.

From the above described way another variety was selected and micropropagated with straight stem – this variety produce also better than common Black Locust but due to the stem quality it is an ideal choice for industrial wood plantations.

Fast growing and straight Black Locust variety plus tree. Photo credit: Silvanus Group Ltd
Fast growing and straight Black Locust variety plus tree. Photo credit: Silvanus Group Ltd

Check out the new varieties’ description here:

What can varieties offer for the forestry?

The fast growing varieties can be a massive help of the wood industry in a long term. With the highly productive clones we can establish clearly profitable plantations for the land owners and feed the industry with better quality wood material. If we can focus more on the economics and the wood production in forestry on the areas where it is reasonable, we can preserve also more natural forests at the same time.

Author of the post: Bálint Pataki (Hungary)
I graduated as MSc. Forestry Engineer on the University of West Hungary, currently I work at Silvanus Group Ltd. as Sales Manager in Budapest, Hungary.

Actually I am a postgraduate student also at the Budapest Business School, studying Economics for Engineers.

My job is coordination of the sales of the company’s unique varieties, project management and international business relations. I spent one year at the Bavarian State Forest Institute as a trainee taking part in a climate change project and later I worked at the Hungarian Forestry Authority as Chief Forestry Planner.

I like sports like football and aikido, hiking and travelling.

First photo credit: Silvanus Group Ltd

2 thoughts on “Plantations and tree breeding – an example from Hungary

    1. hi James .Did you ever have any luck locating seeds? I would like to obtain some as well. George N

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