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3. PROCUREMENT: getting the right quantity and quality

Once a decision has been made about species and provenances, the next stage is to procure the material, making sure that quality and quantity are appropriate. There are many steps and factors to consider, particularly if you intend to arrange collections yourself, rather than purchasing from a dealer. Buying (and selling) reproductive material requires a good understanding of rules and regulations in force, the documentation needed, marketing strategies, transport arrangements etc. Once the material has been obtained, considerably work may be needed to maintain its quality and make the material ready for eventual use in nurseries etc.

We provide an overview of the key issues and sources of information concerned with procurement under the following three topics:(1) the activities directly related to orgainsing and collecting material from the field; (2) the administrative matters that are important if material is bought (or sold) instead of organised and collected directly, and (3) the activities involved in handling and analysing the seed once it has been obtained, prior to propagation.


Initial procurement of material requires careful consideration of factors such as: who will collect, how, when, where, how much, and what the costs will be. Some key points to consider are listed below.

Who supplies? - there are two main options available. Seed or other material can be obtained either (i) by organising collection directly, or (ii) by finding a suitable supplier and purchasing.

Scheduling - in the case of seed material, a good knowledge of the fruiting season will be required, and adequate forward planning will be needed to ensure that there is mature seed available for propagation. Sometimes this may mean arranging collection at least a year in advance.

Estimating quantities - this can be quite difficult to do accurately. It requires a knowledge of yields and conversion rates, usually working backwards to calculate the quantities of material required e.g.: Future plantation areas, plant stocking per hectare, planting mortality, nursery seedling yield, seed germination, seed yield per fruit, fruit yield per tree, and number of seed trees per hectare. Errors in estimating these figures will be compounded, and may result in over- or under-supply.

Access to trees - the process of harvesting fruit, seeds or vegetative material from trees in natural stands can be quite difficult, dangerous and time consuming, since trees are - by their nature - often tall and large. Characteristics that make some species attractive as parent trees (straight bole, light branching, fast growth rate) often make their crowns difficult to access. As a result, a wide range of techniques has been developed to overcome these problems, from destructive tree felling, through adoption of mountaineering techniques, to advanced techniques such as use of helicopters to access the tree crown. Careful consideration must be given to training and providing adequate safety measures for people involved in climbing and harvesting - their lives may depend on it.

Budgeting - given that yields of seeds etc. can be difficult to predict, attention must be given to ensuring that budgets are flexible enough to allow adequate funds to be made available when required. Administrative rules and procedures can often make this difficult.

Documentation - collections must be properly documented, so as to provide users with adequate information about the geographic location of seed sources, number of trees collected from, phenotypic quality etc.

See BUYING AND SELLING MATERIAL for further information on documentation.

See FINDING OUT MORE - SELECTED REFERENCES - GENERAL for general texts on collection

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