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Chilean researchers carry out a trial with 150 oak-rauli hybrids in various climatic scenarios and soils

The project seeks to take advantage of this natural process to promote the development of the mixture of these native species in order to generate a new afforestation alternative challenging climate change.


Oak-raulí hybrids, ready to be planted in different climatic zones and soils.

A project for the generation of a new afforestation option using oak-raulí hybrids, an innovation with high productivity and sustainable adaptation to soil and climate scenarios that challenge Climate Change, already has about 1,000 selected natural hybrids, of which which, the first 150 will be installed in clonal genetic tests that will be carried out in different areas of Chile - which these days is being developed from the Los Ríos region with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA).

In scientific terms, a hybrid is the result of the crossing between different genetic entities. In the case of the forestry sector, of different species. The interesting thing about this is that hybridization results in what is called "hybrid vigor"; that is to say, explains Fernando Droppelmann, director of the project in charge of the Austral University of Chile, "there are individuals who exceed the value that parents have and also, they progress a lot because they bring together the best properties of both parents or both species".

Innovation and results

The FIA ​​project, executed by the Austral University of Chile, which creates a new afforestation option using hybrids of oak by raulí, implies, says Droppelmann, “developing a method of morphological and molecular identification (DNA); then create a system to evaluate the vegetative propagation potential of each hybrid and thus select those with good reproduction rates. The results go to the field to be established in genetic tests located in a great variety of site conditions (climate and soil) within which after a few years the best genotypes (hybrids) can be determined or selected in terms of growth, adaptability. and wood quality ”.

Along these lines, the executive director of FIA, Álvaro Eyzaguirre, maintains that “oak and raulí are naturally hybridized in the areas where both species are associated, which is an opportunity to be able to commercialize - and export - this hybrid with the genetic conditions of raulí and of adaptability to diverse territories that the oak has. In addition, the unprecedented innovation in Chile will help mitigate the effects of climate change, one of the challenges our country faces after committing to comply, by 2025, with the National Strategy for Climate Change and Vegetation Resources in order to manage sustainable forests and protect, restore and promote the terrestrial ecosystem ”.

To date, Droppelmann adds, “there are several advanced aspects for the propagation processes, but from those engaged in the project, we can say that we are producing the plants for the genetic tests that will validate the behavior of the first 150 hybrids - which will be sent in winters this year to different areas of the country - in different site conditions.

For Moira Henzi, Seremi de Agricultura de Los Ríos, the project “is a faithful reflection of the professionalism and commitment to innovation on the part of the team at the Forest Experimentation Center. This important initiative makes the Los Ríos region visible as a development pole for the forestry sector, which will benefit not only this territory, but also a large part of our country. That is why, as Seremi de Agricultura, we will continue to support the Oak-raulí project, as a seal of excellence in terms of sustainability and adaptation to climate change ”.


To obtain the results, the expert details, in a first stage all the nurseries that annually produce these species must be visited, especially being able to distinguish the hybrids in raulí's productions. The plants that are identified as hybrids (using morphological techniques and DNA analysis) are then sent to the Nursery for Genetic Development and Propagation of Native Species of the Institute of Forest and Society of the Faculty of Forest Sciences and Natural Resources of the Austral University of Chile and they go through four production phases: greenhouse for training and management of mothers for mini-stakes production; greenhouse for rooting mini-stakes with rigorous temperature and humidity control environment; acclimatization; and finally, growth and hardening in the open air, initially under some shade of raschel mesh and then fully exposed.

Wood and projection

The logical question is: why are oak and raulí chosen? It is simple. Both species, Droppelmann points out, are the ones with the greatest timber production potential in the Chilean native forest, with ecological and technological properties that can be adequately combined through genetic improvement plans and techniques.

“Thus, for example, raulí grows preferentially on volcanic soils with good water supply but well drained in southern exposures at medium altitudes, while oak is flexible against variable soil and topography conditions. Raulí is also characterized by being very healthy and with properties of the wood that give it a lot of value. In 1990, Professor Claudio Donoso pointed out the promise of achieving hybrids that maintain raulí's wood properties and are capable of developing in a greater variety of environments. Later, other researchers also point out the evidence of higher growth of these hybrids compared to pure species, also highlighting the contribution to genetic variability, a very important aspect for adaptation to future conditions of climate change ”, says Droppelmann.

It is important to emphasize that the purpose of the project is not only to plant to meet surface goals, it is about the existence of genetic material that has good growth, good properties of the wood and that genetically has the ability to adapt to changing climate conditions, "Only in this way can we generate a sustainable resource and in the near future have the resurgence of the forestry industry associated with the native forest", closes Droppelmann.

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