Controlled pollination of Sitka spruce

Controlled pollination of female Sitka spruce flowers isolated in tube. Location: Northern Research Station, Midlothian, Scotland.This project aims to ensure a supply of good quality full-sibling families for use in the vegetative propagation industry.

Research objectives

  • This work is carried out as part of the activities of Sitka spruce Breeding Co-operative (SSBC) of which Forest Research is a full member.
  • To secure the supply of control pollinated full-sibling seed for use by the vegetatively propagated (VP) Sitka spruce cuttings industry

Pollination of isolated Sitka spruce female flowers on a graft in one of the Sitka spruce clone banks. Location: Glencorse, Midlothian, Scotland.Results so far

  • Each spring female flowers on selected parents are isolated from background pollen
  • Pollen from store of unrelated selected trees is applied to receptive isolated female flowers
  • This work has been carried out by Forest Research since the late 1980s and is now a key function of the SSBC
  • Once the flowers are passed the stage of receptivity, protective tubes are removed allowing the come to develop naturally
  • Cones are harvested in September each year before any seed are shed naturally and allowed to mature outside enclosed in muslin sacks
  • Seed extraction takes place in December each year
  • Seed are placed in store and then made available to the vegetative propagation industry


Should a new full-sibling family be made available for the first time, its predicted genetic gains will be published on the SSBC website.

Related Products/Services

Elsewhere Forest Research and SSBC are involved with creating new clonal archives, promoting new seed orchards, and planting new clonal archives for furture pollination work


Steve Lee

Funders and partners 

 Funding is an equal partnership between Forest Research and SSBC members from across the private forestry industry.

Forestry Commission policy

Ensuring well adapted, good quality planting stock with the best economic return is a key component of sustainable forestry as promoted in the forest policy documents for Scotland, England and Wales.