Professor John MacKay has been awarded a BBSRC research grant as part of a new collaboration called ‘Sitka Spruced’. The project could significantly increase the economic productivity of one of the UK’s largest crop yields, the Sitka spruce conifer tree.
Using a breeding technique called ‘genomic selection’, researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh and from Forest Research, an agency of the Forestry Commission, hope to accurately identify, at a very early age, fast growing trees with superior timber quality. In doing so, the ‘Sitka Spruced’ research initiative could improve the economic value of future spruce plantations in the UK. In addition, by enhancing the quality of the wood, harvests are more likely to meet the changing construction specifications required to build our houses.