While A. mangium is not demanding in the nursery, it is important to keep the cost of seedling production to a minimum, especially in planning large plantation projects. Reliable information on seedling production costs is difficult to obtain. Generally in the region, estimates vary from US$0.02 to $0,031 per seedling, depending on the nursery type and size.
There is a growing tendency to switch from the conventional system using polythene bags toward mechanized root-retainer nursery systems. Although root-retainer systems are more expensive to establish and maintain, especially in the initial years, high initial investments in infrastructure and facilities have little impact on the long-term cost of seedling production, and reports show that the root-trainer system can give better seedling growth and survival.
The Central Nursery Establishment Project in Indonesia illustrates the magnitude of investment. The nurseries in this project use the ENSO root-trainer system to produce millions of seedlings of A. mangium and other fast-growing species. The price per seedling calculated was US$0.053. In two smaller nurseries with annual production of 6 million seedlings, seedling production was slightly more expensive: US$0.061 and $0.066 (Mantyla in press). Although slightly higher than conventional poly-bag nurseries, the better growth and survival of seedlings in the field are judged to fully compensate this difference.
Nursery practices for A. mangium are not very demanding. The species' ease of management in the nursery probably accounts for the scarcity of information on specific nursery practices.
With the establishment of seed production stands and seed orchards in many countries where A. mangium is grown on a large scale, seeds are now easily available. However, there remains a need to collect good-quality seeds of specific, potentially better provenances from virgin populations.
Seeds should be collected when the pods turn very dark green to light brown.
Seeds must be pretreated; following the procedure for hot water pretreatment precisely gives the best germination results in seed trays or containers.
Damping off, the most serious disease during the nursery stage, can be controlled by use of fungicide and cultural practices.
For best results, use the most suitable seedling containers of up to 300 cc.
Use a standard, uniform substratum in the containers; either topsoil mixed with compost or a mixture of tropical peat and rice husk (between 70:30 and 90:10, depending on the characteristics of the peat).
The optimum height of seedlings for outplanting is 25-40 cm; this can be achieved in 12 weeks with proper fertilizer application, allowing another 3-4 weeks for hardening. Only the best seedlings should be planted out after proper grading.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the cost of seedling production varies between US$0.02 to $0.066.
Goran Adjers works with the Reforestation and Tropical Forest Management Project, Balai Teknologi Reboisasi Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan, Indonesia. P.B.L. Srivastava works with the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute, Lae, Papua New Guinea.
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