The Texas A&M Forest Service tree improvement program, started in 1951, is the oldest in the nation. From its inception it was a regional effort with collaboration and support from the major forest industry leaders, including A.J. Hodges, E.L. Kurth and Arthur Temple, Sr. Early program focus was on drought resistance, seed orchard management, superior tree selection and the genetics of wood specific gravity. For a detailed history, see the 50th Progress Report of the Cooperative Forest Tree Improvement Program (2002).  Superior selections are grafted into orchards to provide seed for reforestation.


     + 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