A good cone year rebuilt the Estonian forest seed stock 29.04

The Estonian spruce seed stock, which had declined to a critical level, was supplemented thanks to a good cone year; now being sufficient to renew the state forest for the next 10-12 years. During the cone picking season from November to March, RMK bought 470,000 litres of cones mostly from private individuals, yielding 4500 kg of spruce seeds.

Cone-bearing was especially good this year in North-Estonia, average in Central and South-West Estonia and poor in South-Estonia. The predominant share of the cones came from Viru, Harju and Järva Counties, collected mainly by private individuals from the state forest areas. The harvest by the biggest cone collectors totalled 15,000-18,000 litres, with an average of 400-500 litres of cones brought in at a time. RMK paid 70 cents per cone litre; altogether private individuals earned over EUR 300,000.

“One of the tasks of RMK is ensuring sufficient forest seed stock for the state,” said Esko Krinal, Head of RMK’s Nursery and Seed Management Department, and added that if the Estonian spruces had not had such a fruitful cone-year, RMK would have had to buy the seeds from the permitted areas. “These areas are: Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Pskov and Novgorod oblasts in Russia; but most definitely, the locally picked seed is the best for the new generation of Estonian forest,” Krinal stated. The gathered forest seeds are used for forest sowing and for growing forest plants.

The cone-bearing of a spruce is influenced by the intensity of flowering and the weather at the time of flowering and formation of buds in the previous year; in addition, the crop can be affected by late spring frosts, rainfall during blossoming that prevents pollination, fungal diseases and pests, etc. The last excellent cone year was in 2001; a year similar to this one was 2007.

Usually, the cones are picked during clear cutting, sometimes also from the trees cut during thinning. A coniferous forest that is suitable for stocking of seeds must be at least 50 years old; the cone may not have running resin, damage caused by insects or fungi.

The seeds are obtained from the cones by placing the cones into a drier, where these are kept until the bract scales open up. The seeds are then shaken out of the cones, wings are separated, and the seeds are cleaned and sorted with different machines. The seeds are stored in cold storage.

The total Estonian seed stock is currently 7700 kg. The pine seed reserve is sufficient to cover a three-year supply, i.e. 2500 kg and since a pine bears cones almost every year, there is no problem with stocking. In addition, the Estonian seed stock contains 180 kg of white birch and 31 kg of other seeds.

RMK still wishes to draw the attention of people to the fact that certain cutting activities are permitted and are also reasonable to carry out during the felling-free season. For example, it is permitted to carry out sanitary cutting in damaged forests, to prevent the spreading of diseases and to deforest land, the intended use of which will change after cutting. From 15 April to 15 June, people may also undertake felling on pure stands without underwood, where the soil cannot be damaged and where forest birds and animals are interfered with the least.