Future Trees Trust is delighted to announce a new Seed Sourcing Grant (SSG) project funded by the Forestry Commission, which aims to improve the quality and quantity of cherry seed for the UK forestry industry.

This project will capitalise upon a cherry breeding programme that started in the 1990s by East Malling Research, now known as NIAB East Malling. With the closure of East Malling Research’s farm woodland programme in 2008, no further work was carried out and existing cherry resources are underutilised.

This project will run until March 2025 and seeks to understand the diversity within the existing cherry breeding programme, and add new plus trees to the base population, while bringing existing scattered cherry resources together for seed production.

There are currently several seed orchards for wild cherry producing marketable seed but the number of plus trees within these is limited, especially for Region 30 seed orchards. Overall genetic diversity within the existing breeding population is currently unknown, as is the S locus – a sequence of DNA that governs a self-incompatibility mechanism – of each tree. Understanding these two aspects of each plus tree will allow Future Trees Trust to maximise productivity and genetic diversity of the orchards.

Future Trees Trust is delighted to be partnering with Maelor Forest Nurseries who are carrying out the genotyping work in their genetics lab.

Two new cherry orchards are to be planted: one in Oxfordshire at Future Trees Trust’s new research woodland near Uffington through a partnership with the National Trust and funded through the Seed Sourcing Grant. A second orchard will be established at Maelor Forest Nurseries in Wales which they are self-funding as Wales is not included in the Seed Sourcing Grant.   Additionally, the clonal seed orchard at Earth Trust will be brought back into management to promote seed production. All orchards will be placed on the Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) register.

Locating Wild Cherry ‘Plus Trees’ for Timber

Future Trees Trust is trying to locate outstanding timber trees of wild cherry, particularly in the region of Provenance 30 (Cumbria, Wales and the south west).The Trust is calling on landowners and managers to get in touch if they find a wild cherry that qualifies as a Plus Tree; with good form and vigour for timber purposes and showing tolerance to pests and diseases, please contact the Trust’s Forestry Technician at: Oliver.Stock@futuretrees.org

Reassessing Trials from the 1990’s

The work on cherry is one of the most advanced of any broadleaf programme in the UK, incorporating selections for resistance to bacterial canker and material from a French breeding programme. This work, carried out by East Malling Research in the 1990s involved making controlled crosses of the best parents, and the resulting offspring were planted out as a seedling trial. This trial will be reassessed, and the best individuals will be grafted and incorporated into the new seed orchards.

The aims of this multi-partner project are to:

  1. Identify additional plus trees in region 30 to augment genetic diversity in Region 30 seed orchards
  2. Assess a seedling selection trial of controlled crosses made for canker resistance established by NIAB East Malling and graft the best individual (for form and vigour) from each of the 33 unique crosses made
  3. Genotype plus trees and controlled crosses for the S locus and markers of genetic diversity
  4. Bring the seed orchard at Earth Trust back into management and place on the Forest Reproductive Material register
  5. Graft existing scattered resources and new plus trees to establish two new seed orchards for wild cherry.


Maelor Forest Nurseries

Dr Shelagh McCartan will undertake the genomics work (genotyping of all plus trees to investigate genetic diversity and S locus).

Earth Trust

Earth Trust have a small seed orchard which would benefit from management and placement as a qualified seed orchard on the Forest Reproductive Material register.

NIAB East Malling

NIAB at East Malling will carry out all the grafting work.

Future Trees Trust

Future Trees Trust will manage the project, assess all existing resources, locate additional plus trees to supplement the Region 30 seed orchard and establish a new seed orchard in South Oxfordshire.

Looking to plant trees?

Maelor Forest Nurseries produces and supplies commercial quantities of bare root trees and shrubs suitable for forestry, hedging and native woodland planting.

Our technical work aims to improve growing conditions on the nursery to produce a better quality plant and futureproof forests, to ensure that this quality is maintained down the line, from dispatch to planting out and beyond.

More information about our wide range products can be found here maelor.co.uk/products or contact us here maelor.co.uk/contact-us

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