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Breeding Araucaria trees for increased production/growth rate.

 
Sam Williams
Posts: 5
Location: Cheshire, NW England
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forest garden greening the desert trees
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Hello all,

I am currently working 50+ hours a week saving for some land (hopefully in Australia) to get a desert greening/Agroforestry project off the ground. The goal being to breed highly resilient, productive and fast(er) growing Araucaria hybrids (Angustifolia x Bidwillii) for Human food production and improve the local climate for all the other animals while i'm at it. I'm already experimenting with permaculture here in England on a very small scale on a soggy little allotment plot and am having really promising results, Iv'e been completely obsessed with all aspects of Permaculture for 2-3 years now (I'm 23). I guess the point of this thread is to chat to other like minded folk and soak up any knowledge or advice you guys have to offer, Completely isolated here and haven't spoken face to face with anyone else who's even remotely interested or heard of permaculture unfortunately.

SO, the plan is to get my hands on around 25 acres of dusty, droughty fairly barren land in an area with consistent-ish fog, install a modest DIY fog harvesting array which would feed a tank, this tank would then feed a drip irrigation network buried under the mulch around the various nitrogen fixing Australian natives and Araucaria saplings. There would be more to it, like on contour swales, funneling fog toward the harvesting nets with 'V' shaped rows of trees, Clay pellet seed dispersal (got that one from Masanobu Fukuoka), chop and drop, maybe establishing a coppice to produce a renewable source of Hugelkultur and biochar materials. Let me know what you guys think.
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The Araucaria Angustifolia world record holder for cone production, 674 in a single year!.
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A different view of the same tree.
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A large fruiting Angustifolia showing the genetic diversity of this species.
 
Ray South
Posts: 60
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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You've set yourself quite a challenge. Admirable. Where in Australia are you thinking? There plenty of dry spots here but not that many with high levels of fog.
I tried growing the bunya from seed. I put the seeds in pots, unaware of their germination habits. They did germinate but sadly didn't survive my neglect. I should have sown them in the ground I suppose as they can take a year or more to pop up above ground.
 
Henry Jabel
Posts: 87
Location: Worcestershire, England
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forest garden fungi woodworking
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If for some reason you get stuck in England Araucaria araucana grow fantastic here. I want to plant as many as I can here once I convince people or manage to get land of my own... All I know is they are endangered and there are cultivars with larger pinones. My Chilean friend loves these trees so hopefully she might know the cultivar names. I will make sure she doesn't bring any back from Chile because that might be illegal.

I would guess they would grow well in Tasmanian as its cooler and foggier there or up in a mountainous area like they are in Chile.

I dont know much about the bunya pine has anyone bred a dwarfing variety?

Edit: Just realised you are talking about Augustifolia not araucana! I wonder if there is potential for hybrids with that though.
 
Sam Williams
Posts: 5
Location: Cheshire, NW England
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forest garden greening the desert trees
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Thanks for the replies.

Ray South,
thank you for saying so, The way I see it is if I can get some really productive trees growing in such a way that it is commercially viable then hopefully more skeptics will see the benefits of natural farming techniques and move away from tillage, pesticides and artificial fertilizers. In regards to where in Australia i'm thinking of setting up shop, any land will do as long as it's cheap(i'm on a VERY tight budget), the beauty of what I want to do is that it is very adaptable. Sorry to hear about the Bunya seedlings, Iv'e managed to germinate a handful so far in a warm greenhouse. Funnily enough the ones that I buried instead of surface sowed not only germinated sooner but had a higher survival rate, my guess is they need a good deal of humidity when first starting off, also something that I've noticed while potting on my Araucana and Angustifolia seedlings is that they completely lack fibrous roots which makes me wonder whether they would rely quite heavily on fungal symbiosis to really thrive. If you do decide to straight sow any then I would recommend putting a heavy stone on top of the rounded end of the seed leaving plenty of room for the little guy to poke out the pointy end, if you don't weigh down the seeds they are buggers for pushing themselves out of the ground with their taproots.

Henry Jabel,
Araucana do love the UK climate don't they, I know of six just in my area 3 of which are bloody huge and healthy trees. I was in the exact same frame of mind as you in terms of wanting to plant an Araucana forest in the UK, there is a fantastic Self seeding fully mature Araucana forest in northumberland called Kyloe woods which is thriving, over 70 adult trees and countless seedlings and saplings. I would think they would grow very well in Tasmania too, from what I understand its the same as our climate just a bit warmer (might be wrong). There is a man Called Ivar Wendling in south America who has perfected a grafting technique that allows you to have very low fruiting (within reach) Angustifolia trees by taking bark patch graft from epicormic shoots high up in fruiting age trees and grafting it onto small saplings, I don't see why this wouldn't work for Bunya's and is one of the things I want to try out. Not problem haha!, they do hybridize naturally where the two species ranges cross over, the first generation hybrids grow considerably faster than either parent tree, are resistant to Phytophthora from the angustifolia genes and tend to be quite thirsty from what Iv'e been told.
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The grafting process (sorry its in portuguese lol)
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Mr. Wendling with a low fruiting grafted female.
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Araucana x Bidwillii growing at Kew gardens London.
 
Henry Jabel
Posts: 87
Location: Worcestershire, England
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Sam Williams wrote: There is a man Called Ivar Wendling in south America who has perfected a grafting technique that allows you to have very low fruiting (within reach) Angustifolia trees by taking bark patch graft from epicormic shoots high up in fruiting age trees and grafting it onto small saplings, I don't see why this wouldn't work for Bunya's and is one of the things I want to try out.


Do you get the nuts earlier with this grafting technique or does it produce at the same time but they just appear furthur down on the tree?-I am guessing the later. Obviously with most fruit trees the rootstock size determines the time of fruiting. I was hoping someone had bred a dwarf auraucaria species somewhere then I can graft what I want on to it and enjoy those while the full size trees mature.

Thanks for the really interesting information.
 
Sam Williams
Posts: 5
Location: Cheshire, NW England
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forest garden greening the desert trees
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Hello again,

Yes you get nuts in about six years with this method which is half the time of a regular seedling Angustifolia, the resulting grafted trees also stay fairly low/compact. I'd much rather have a variety that produces early instead though to avoid the genetic disparity between rootstock and scion. The heavy cropping Angustifolia tree that I mentioned is noted for its early bearing at 8 years old. This is just speculation but my guess would be that with the genes coding for early fruiting in the Angustifolia combined with the Hybrid vigor of the offspring (being half bunya), At least some of the resulting trees would produce at a very young age. Again just speculation but it would make sense, It would also be great if the hybrid offspring took after the Bunya in terms of being monoecious but i'll have to wait and see on that one. As long as I plant enough of these trees I will have a better chance of finding two or more early bearers amongst them that I can cross to try and encourage early bearing in future generations. Your welcome, I spend most of my free time digging through Araucaria research papers online (Bit of an obsession).
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Better view of a grafted tree.
 
Henry Jabel
Posts: 87
Location: Worcestershire, England
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I hope it works with araucana too. There are quite a few mature trees not too far from me but they are a bit on the large side to get at. If it keeps the tree small I could even have one in my garden which is a major bonus.

I guess the downside is you would have to keep pruning it (as Fukuoka observed).

Are you growing many araucana at the moment?
 
Henry Jabel
Posts: 87
Location: Worcestershire, England
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Sam I am going to convince some people I know to start an Araucana growing project. Let us know your email and I will keep you updated on how things turn out. 
 
Sam Williams
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Location: Cheshire, NW England
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Hello Henry, Apologies that I haven't answered you sooner I haven't visited the forum for a while. Yes I do grow my own Araucaria. Ive currently got several dozen Araucana and angustifolia seedlings that i'm planning to use as root stock for grafting. I'd love to be a part of any araucaria growing project and will freely give all information I have. my Email is samuelfwilliams1993@hotmail.com.
 
Sam Williams
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I also now understand how to have a small fruiting araucaria garden tree (around 6') without any pruning. from graft to fruit can be as little as 4 years, maybe even sooner if you grafted onto selected faster growing seedlings.
 
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