Forest growers have an opportunity to choose
the species mix and the genetic origins of the plants they
are going to grow on their farm. They can also reduce or increase
the prevalence of existing species. The use of good quality
seed is essential. Depending on the species and purpose, quality
may depend upon on the genetic integrity, freshness, cleanliness
and viability of the seed. The best type of seed to collect
and where to collect it from depends upon your objectives.
Revegetation and maintaining
If the objective is to plant local indigenous species it is
best to collect seeds close to your property to complement
and sustain the genetic diversity of your area. Local tree
species may be best suited to the local soil and weather conditions.
Contact your nearest landcare or farm forestry expert or regional
or state herbariums to find out if there are good local seed
sources in your area.
Collecting your own
Collecting your own seed is not a straightforward procedure.
Some native plants and habitats are protected and collecting
might be restricted or you might need to apply for a permit.
Seeds should be collected in an ecologically sensitive manner.
Collecting too much seed from one population of trees may
be detrimental to their own regeneration. Try to collect a
small proportion of seeds, no more than 20 percent per plant,
from a range of healthy plants in an area. Select individual
trees at around 100 meters apart. Collecting from a group
of native trees growing close together may reduce the genetic
diversity of your seed mix as they may be too closely related.
Refer to the Australian
Tree Seed Centre's Code of Practice for seed collecting.
If possible try to collect from sites that have
similar characteristics to where you want to plant. You may
need to have some idea of the flowering and seed development
times to be sure you have mature seeds and often seed needs
to be removed from ripened fruit. Eucalypt capsules may open
and/or darken when mature. Make you have correctly identified
the species you intend to collect.
Seeds can be collected by hand-picking fruits or pods, or
by using pole pruners to remove material from tall trees and
shrubs. Another way is to place a ground sheet under a tree
and gently shake the trunk to dislodge mature seeds and fruits.
Seeds and fruits should be placed in cloth or paper bags.
CSIRO's Forestry and Forest Products
Australian Tree Seed Centre supply a wide range of native
seed and also provide a detailed list of state and federal
private and government seed suppliers.
Seed viability and storage
Not all seeds collected will be able to germinate. Finding
out how many or your seeds are viable is useful to estimate
sowing rates when direct seeding. The longer seeds are stored,
the less viable they will be. Seeds from Eucalypt, Acacia
and Casuarina species will usually retain high viability for
several years if stored at low humidity and at room temperature.
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