Urban Tree Improvement Program 

     Tree improvement header

    The value of plant hardiness – the measure of a tree’s ability to survive harsh and arid conditions – has never been higher.  
    That’s why Texas A&M Forest Service began an Urban Tree Improvement Program over 40 years ago: to create a supply of trees for future urban landscapes. Across the state of Texas, from small towns to urban neighborhoods, trees play a vital role in our communities.They help give a community its sense of place and provide environmental, economic, social and health benefits.  
    Texas Tested, Texas Tough trees are the best choice for urban needs.  


    Seed orchards have been established for each of the species in the TFS Urban Tree Improvement Program.  Seeds from the hardiest selections, identified through rigorous testing, are now available to the consumer.  This ensures the production of Texas Tested, Texas Tough seedlings that survive and grow well in any urban environment.


    TFS works closely with each of the growers utilizing our seed to  make sure that seedling production standards are met or exceeded.  This helps us ensure that only the best selections go into production.


    Texas Tested, Texas Tough fact sheet

     + Does TFS Have Seed Orchards?

    The TFS Tree Improvement Program currently manages orchards supporting both pine and hardwood reforestation. The pine seed orchards are located near Magnolia Springs in Jasper County and at the Arthur Temple Sr. Research Experiment Station in Cherokee County. TFS maintains more than 40 acres of hardwood orchards near Weeping Mary in Cherokee County and near Hudson in Angelina County.


    MSSO        Hudsonliveoak

     + Who manages TFS seed orchards?
    Mr. Arthur Nichols, a TFS employee since 2011, is seed orchard manager. He oversees the breeding and testing work done by the TFS tree improvement program. Arthur has a long history in tree improvement working with such companies as International Paper Company, Louisiana-Pacific and Temple-Inland.
     + How is TFS seed used?

    TFS seed is made available to our commercial partners, who then make seedlings available to their customers. We also make the seed available to TFS’ West Texas Nursery. Currently seed from our drought-hardy loblolly pine orchard at Magnolia Springs is being collected and provided to both TFS and to private and commercial partners to produce seedlings to reforest Bastrop State Park and surrounding lands devastated by the Bastrop wildfire in 2011. This seed is a product of some of the earliest selection and testing work done by TFS with loblolly pines originating from the Lost Pines region. 

    The TFS Tree Improvement Program also collects hardwood seed developed to support a unique improvement program focusing on street, or urban, trees. Most cities in Texas are outside the range of the eastern hardwood forest and most seed made available to support urban reforestation when this program began were from the northeastern U.S. and very poorly adapted. TFS collaborated with several municipalities and commercial nurseries to make local selections in several species, including baldcypress, bur oak, green ash, live oak and Shumard oak, and tested these for suitability in the urban environment. TFS and the cities of Burleson and Forth Worth have continued this partnership to deploy seedlings of several species from this program in their respective cities. The program is continually looking to build partnerships to further the collaborative effort that gave rise to this unique state resource. 

    The TFS Tree Improvement Program also partners with the Texas Christmas Tree Growers’ Association to produce Virginia pine seed to support seedling production for the members.


     + Contact
     Dr. Fred Raley oversees the TFS Tree Improvement Program. He can be reached at (979) 845-2523 or at