After several years of intensive work to produce high-quality birch seeds, Södra has now harvested a large amount of birch seeds in its greenhouse orchard in Falkenberg.
The seeds will be used to breed improved birch seedlings with favourable traits, which will promote the growth and diversity of family forestry.
Access to selectively bred birch seeds for cultivating seedlings with favourable traits, such as high growth, straight stems and tightly knotted wood, has long been limited. At the same time, demand among forest owners for birch seedlings has been considerably higher than Södra’s ability to produce and deliver.
For this reason, Södra built a greenhouse in the Falkenberg nursery a few years ago that was specially designed for birch seed cultivation. An intensive process to produce high-quality birch seeds for tomorrow’s forests began – and this work has now paid off in the form of a bountiful harvest of birch seeds.
“We saw a declining supply of birch seeds while more and more forest owners were starting to show an interest in birch. We therefore decided to test whether we could produce seeds on our own. After a few years of intensive work and great commitment from employees, it is gratifying that our investment has proved successful so fast,” said Magnus Petersson, Head of Forestry at Södra.
The harvested birch seeds will be sown in the nursery in spring 2024 and by spring 2025, birch seedlings with desirable traits will be available for sale.
“Birch seedlings are a fast-growing and fun product to work with, and we are expecting to have many birch seedlings ready for sale by as early as spring 2025. We now have a model and a methodology for how we want to work with birch seed cultivation and we think it may be possible to scale-up the production moving forward,” said Johan Henriksson, Nursery Manager at Falkenberg.
The interest that family forest owners are showing in different types of tree species is growing, as well as the desire and demand for greater forest biodiversity. Södra is therefore promoting diversity in forestry in various ways, such as by increasing its own knowledge, and that of forest owners, of a wider range of forest trees. The birch seed orchard in Falkenberg is owned jointly with Sveaskog. Södra runs and manages the seed orchard, while Sveaskog pays half the cost and receives half of the seed harvest. The birch clones used for the seed orchard come from the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden’s long-term birch breeding process, which can now be scaled-up for higher seed and seedling production.