Is France interested in seed orchards? 

An email was sent October 2007 to French participants in Treebreedex as follows:
 
There was a seed orchard conference at UmeŚ in end of September. There come more participants and more presentations (around 50) than I even had dreamt about and it was a great event from almost all aspects.  So I feel very happy indeed.  But I am a reflecting Nature and want Mankind to improve. So I analyzed participation in seed orchard conference and broke them down on countries. The numbers are small and any pattern could have random causes and need not indicate a deeper explanation behind. Certainly everyone cannot be everywhere. Comments about individual countries may not mean a thing!
 
Still it is so striking so I share it with the French Treebreedex members. There COULD be deeper reasons! It is anyway good to get something to think around! My analyze is on
http://daglindgren.upsc.se/Umea07/Evaluation.htm 
No French participation in the seed orchard meeting and what seems a clear indication of an interested North-East but a less enthusiastic South-West Europe. 
 
A side matters: UmeŚ (UPSC) was visited a few weeks ago by a large delegation from INRA for cooperation. The tree breeding contribution from INRA was only Populus (which I view as a model species), INRA showed little interest to discuss what I call breeding and seed orchards in spite of that many visited UmeŚ in the autumn.

The last international meeting before 2007 focusing a considerable attention on seed orchards was a symposium about mass-propagation technology for fast growing tree species at Bordeaux 1992, France has been rather aggressive in seed orchards earlier. This attitude was also my impression from the French visitors I met in Sweden during the last decades. Recently it was flagged for a textbook about forest tree breeding in French on Forestgen (Nanson)!

France has the third largest forest area and third last volume of forest harvested in EU!
 
I had the impression that Treebreedex should put much of the established tree breeding techniques in seed orchards and the initiative came from France. I believe that when advancing beyond the stand collections, seed orchards is the most important such technique. So where are some indications France is straying away from what I think is the most important issues in forest tree breeding..... but you can see this as a provocation to initiate a discussion among yourself....

I got a response from Luc Pique January 2008 (no one else responded), I summarize and edit:

Four INRA colleagues went to Quťbec at about the same time as the seed orchard conference to the Larix2007 IUFRO meeting and Canadian poplar meeting.

France has created hundreds of ha of seed orchards for many species, the Ministry has decided to have no new seed orchard created in France on State 's funding. That is a very troublesome situation for breeders who would like to see their breeding progress into production ! Since nearly ten years, only very few small-scale new orchards (two with wild cherry, one with ash, two with F2-hybrid larch) have been created most generally with private funding. Breeders have looked when possible to other production alternatives like bulk-vegetative propagation

Cemagref, the traditional partner for seed orchard establishment, management and research on flower and fructification management, was obliged to leave the field of genetics, breeding and related matters. They just kept a role of experts for day-to-day management of existing orchards. That is why there were no Cemagref participation.

The Forestry department has become a Ecology department, and the place of tree breeding in this new department is difficult to justify!
 
Dag Lindgren response:

Of course it is little base for any conclusions about individual countries participation in my seed orchard meeting. But some general comments. An update of the Swedish seed orchard program is available at http://daglindgren.upsc.se/Umea07/Proceedings/LindgrenKarlssonSeedOrchard.pdf  Since 1993 the Swedish state does not invest a penny in new seed orchards in Sweden, still seed orchards are build for the need of all Swedish nurseries by private funds. If private money can be raised for seed orchards in Sweden, where growth is slow and the average age of a tree in a final harvest is a century, why can not countries where the growth conditions are better convince their private interests to invest in seed orchards?

Is the government more positive to subsidize bulk-vegetative propagation as the researcher work more with that?  Bulk propagated cuttings means an added cost on the plant price at a magnitude ten times more than a seed orchard seed, if private money are willing to use bulk propagated cuttings, why would they be unwilling to pay for seed orchards?

It is research in general which is rather hostile to seed orchards, e.g. it was not mentioned in the EU novel tree project. Seed orchards which are the most important cradle for novel trees? Which idiots are forming these invitations for projects?

Cannot genetically improved seed orchard seeds by sold at a profit which pays for new seed orchards? In situations where the state has paid for the current seed orchards? The major cost of seeds from a well managed seed orchard is not establishment or management, it is harvesting and subsequent seed handling.