22 August, 2012
SUNSHINE SEEDLINGS DOUBLES CLONE PRODUCTION
The growing demand for high productivity,
disease tolerant clones among forestry companies has prompted Sunshine
Seedlings to double their output of clonal cuttings from three million a year
to six million a year.
Sunshine Seedlings has been producing G x
U, G x N and G x C clones for the forestry industry for the past 15 years, but
the recent outbreaks of Leptocybe invasa has resulted in a massive growth in
demand for the new clonal material, particularly G x U clones, which have
proved to be tolerant to Leptocybe.
"E. Grandis is no longer suitable for
planting because of Leptocybe, so the demand for tolerant clones has increased
tremendously," said Ken Leisegang, founder and MD of Sunshine Seedlings.
Ken said the clones Sunshine Seedlings uses
to make cuttings have been developed by the CSIR and tested by NCT Forestry.
"The G x U clones were only considered
suitable for planting in the Zululand area, but now we've selected G x Us that
are suitable for the Midlands as well and there is a lot of demand from the
corporate growers as well as private farmers."
Ken said the new clones his company
produces are good for pulp, saw timber and for poles, and are tested for pest
and disease resistance by Fabi. They give 20% to 30% additional yield and
uniform growth, which enables tree farmers to maximize their productivity.
Sunshine Seedlings has trained up
additional staff and built new tunnels to accommodate the increased production.
In addition to the clones, Sunshine Seedlings
produces around 10 to 12 million eucalyptus, pine and wattle seedlings a year,
as well as a range of vegetable seedlings and flowers.
They have holding nurseries in Vryheid,
Kwambonambi, Park Rynie and Lusikisiki, and deliver to customers anywhere in
When SA Forestry visited Sunshine
Seedlings' main nursery just outside Pietermaritzburg it was a hive of activity
what with the on-going construction of new tunnels and the increased production
of clonal cuttings. This is the busiest time of the year for the forestry side
of the business as it takes around three months to grow the clones. Forestry
companies are now placing their orders for the upcoming spring planting season.
The new clones spend their first month in
the rooting tunnel with precise moisture and temperature control, then a month
in the hardening off tunnel where the moisture is gradually reduced and
fertiliser applied. After that they are moved into the grow-out section where
the cuttings are consolidated and evened out in readiness for delivery to
In the pine section of the nursery strict
hygiene protocols are in place to control disease, especially Fusarium Circinatum
which affects P. patula seedlings. The tunnels are sealed off from the rest of
the nursery, there are footbaths at the tunnel entrances, seedlings are planted
in new trays, the growing areas are rotated and samples are sent to Fabi for
"We haven't had a problem with Fusarium
since we introduced the hygiene protocols," said Ken.
Sunshine Seedlings, which was started by
Ken in 1982, is ISO9001 compliant and is also certified by the Seedling Growers
Association of South Africa.
Article by: Chris Chapman