Identifying the good wood (FFR/Scion)


  • Radiata pine can be used in a wide variety of products, but potential value and markets are lost due to sub-optimal wood quality. Key wood quality issues are:
    1. resin blemishes
    2. intra-ring checks
    3. low-stiffness core-wood
    4. distortion.
  • The presence of these features affects the profitability of wood processors and the price they will pay for logs.
  • The impact of genetics, siting and silviculture on wood properties and end-product performance are poorly understood.
  • In order to compete with wood from other countries, as well as other materials, New Zealand radiata pine must be fit-for-purpose and cost-competitive on the global market.

Potential cost

The Wood Quality Initiative estimated that the cost of poor wood quality was $200 million per year. This did not include the additional revenue that could accrue if radiata pine could penetrate higher value markets, which require greater uniformity and predictability of properties.

A 5% improvement in the return to growers from domestic log sales is estimated to be worth $50 million p.a.


Scion has a research programme to link end product performance back to forest management, so managers can quantify the impacts of their decisions. This research includes the following components:

  • Development of a product quality simulation model to predict the performance of solid timber.
  • Characterising the wood properties distribution within a tree at a scale that affects solid wood products.
  • Rapid assay methods for collecting wood property data.
  • Understanding the physiological drivers of wood property variation and developing early screening tools.

The total cost of this research has been about $2.5 million over the past 5 years, plus $1.2 million in CAPEX provided by Scion.


High resolution wood properties information can be collected at a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches. These methods will be applied to determine how wood properties and end-product performance are affected by different combinations of genetics, environment and silviculture.

Understanding the variation in the quality of the forest resource will underpin segregation, which is aimed at increasing the return to growers.


Scion’s research will ensure that forest growers have the knowledge and information necessary to produce a raw material with the characteristics desired in high quality structural and appearance products.

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