J.D. Irving Limited’s partnership with Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service has led to the commercial development of advanced tree breeding, field testing and seedling production techniques.

“Our project will be the first large-scale seedling facility in Canada that incorporates both the somatic embryogenesis process of naturally occurring superior trees from various locations across Atlantic Canada, as well as J.D. Irving’s patented endophyte-enhanced seedling technology,” said Greg Adams, manager research & development JDI Woodlands and manager of Maritime Innovation, JDI’s lab. “This research is very critical in developing resilient forests in changing environmental conditions.”

Maritime Innovation, the company’s new lab in Sussex, New Brunswick, was designed to use advanced seedling production technologies based on selection from Canada’s native tree population for a range of high value traits such as fast growth rate, high wood quality, resistance to insects and disease, and broad adaptation to climate change. A propagation method called somatic embryogenesis is used to produce large numbers of seedlings from a broad range of genetically diverse trees which have been field tested across the region.

Another aspect of the lab’s research involves fungi called endophytes which live inside the needles and leaves of trees across the region. A range of these fungi have been selected because they produce compounds which improve their host tree’s tolerance to insect and disease attack. Methods have been developed to inoculate small seedlings in the nursery with these fungi which stay with the tree throughout its life.

Overall, J.D. Irving states that this project will support higher-value Canadian-planted trees and faster regeneration of Canada’s managed forests.