• 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.


    Tree improvement is a continuous process of selection, breeding and testing. Traits are identified; selections are made and tested individually or bred together. The process has two basic components – breeding and testing and seed production. Selections of high genetic values are grafted into seed orchards where seed is collected and produced into seedlings in forest nurseries. 

     + What Does the Tree Improvement Process Look Like?
    Each repetition of selection, breeding and testing carried out in this process is termed a ‘generation’ or ‘cycle’ and the resulting seed or seedlings produced from that repetition are also designated as a generation or cycle. 
    TI Cycle
     + Why Do Tree Improvement?

    The primary reason for tree improvement is to produce genetically superior seed or seedlings for reforestation. The second reason is to support the regional tree improvement effort through participation in breeding and testing programs.

     + Tree Improvement in Texas
    Texas A&M Forest Service holds the distinction of forming the first tree improvement program in the U.S. This program served as a model for many other collaborative silvicultural programs in the nation, including the Western Gulf Forest Tree Improvement Program, for which it serves as host agency.
     + Western Gulf Forest Tree Improvement Program (WGFTIP)

    The Western Gulf Forest Tree Improvement Program (WGFTIP) is a cooperative tree breeding project founded in 1969 with the objective of providing the best genetic quality seed for use in forest regeneration programs in the Western Gulf Region of the United States. Current members include five states and 8 industrial members collectively responsible for planting 300,000,000 seedlings per year. The cooperative is preserving and improving populations of five southern pine species and several hardwood species.

    Brochure (PDF, 282KB)


     + Annual Reports

    Western Gulf Forest Tree Improvement Program Annual Reports: