Climate effects on Longleaf Pine seed production

Those in the longleaf pine range may be aware that the existing area of longleaf is but a scant remnant of its original distribution. Organizations and initiatives throughout the Southeastern US are actively working to restore and expand the acreage of this stately native tree.  Variations in climate may present a new challenge to this effort, as USDA Forest Service scientists are currently discovering just how complex the relationship is between longleaf pine seed production and climate.  

Longleaf Pine Range Map 1966

Longleaf Pine Range Map 1966

Sarah Farmer, of the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station’s (SRS) Science Communications group summarized this research in the Compass Live newsletter of the SRS.  In a series of three research-based articles by Sarah and Zoe Hoyle, they provide valuable information for longleaf pine owners and managers, on the relationship between climate and longleaf seed production, guidelines for producing high quality seed, and the cone prospects for 2016 and 2017.  

Longleaf pine in the Croatan National Forest

Longleaf Pine in NC’s Croatan National Forest


The researchers studied longleaf pine at a wide variety of sites (different elevations, soil types, climates) across the Southeast, and report that across all the sites, moderate climate conditions appear to promote cone production. They caution, however that “many interactive factors are involved in controlling cone production”.  We encourage you to read the original article and full research paper for a greater understanding. 

Reference: .Life cycle and masting of a recovering keystone indicator species under climate fluctuationEcosystem Health and Sustainability. 2(6): e01226.