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Silviculture / Collecting Seeds
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Collecting Seeds

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 genetic diversity
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 seed
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.

Collection methods
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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