Competence Centre for Stone Pine and Pine Nut: pinea spot congress conclusions

Pine sector experts gathered in Lisbon to address challenges and opportunities, focusing on silviculture, phytosanitary problems, and market development.

Photo: Envato

Over three days, at the end of November, 100 participants gathered in Lisbon to discuss the challenges facing the stone pine sector, particularly in the management of stands, phytosanitary problems, national and international markets.

In terms of silviculture, the positive impact of mixed stands on the growth of stone pine and the importance of thinning and the age structure of stands on the regeneration capacity was evident, namely, the opening of clearings in adult stands to enhance the establishment of new plants. The results of a mechanized harvesting trial in Chile on grafted stone pines, with no evidence of damage, was also mentioned, issue that had not been tested in Portugal, yet.

The genetic diversity of stone pine was also a topic, with the elite clones registered in Spain, whose genetic profile allows to differentiate them on the market. Grafting is a reality in nurseries, since the success rates of grafting in the field, in Spain, is very low due to the more extreme weather conditions than in Portugal. The two existing clonal stands in the national territory are managed by two private landowner’s organizations and have provided, since 2008, thousands of quality scions, certified under the National Forest Reproductive Materials Catalogue, an essential tool to ensure the future of pine cone production in grafted trees. Ensuring genetic variability is essential to guarantee the sustainability of the stone pine forest.

The set of biotic agents that currently affect the stone pine is quite extensive, probably due to the climate context and globalization. Eradication in a forest context is not a plausible scenario, and in most situations, what occurs is damage control, when possible, and not eradication of the pest.

The presentations about the insect Leptoglossus occidentalis, that feed on cones and seeds, emphasized the necessity for monitoring methodologies for this pest in pine forests, in order to understand the presence and quantity of insects and consequently the necessity, or not, for phytosanitary treatments. The development of pheromones in the future to capture this insect can be enhanced by the chemical ecology work already carried out. Climate change also impacts pine cone production, particularly the survival of pine cones in the first, but also in the second year, due to very hot summers. Particular attention shall be paid to an emerging pest in Italy, Toumeyella parvicornis, which has also been detected in isolated populations in Spain. The geographical conditions where stone pine is distributed in Portugal are also suitable for the dispersion of this new pest.

In national and international dried fruit markets, pine nuts represent just 1%, in a market that is dominated by China, where pine nuts origin is a species distinct from stone pine. Certification mechanisms are needed to differentiate Mediterranean pine nuts from other pine nuts sold by China and Russia, especially because the nutritional properties of Mediterranean pine nuts are superior to other pine nuts. Additional efforts must still be ensured to improve the statistics of the sector, because current codes do not allow a right quantification of the pine cone and pine nuts exported, for example.

In the Congress closing message, Eng. Rui Pombo, ICNF Regional Director, announced that the formal process of changing the legal date for the cone pine harvesting is already at the Secretary of State for Nature Conservation and Forests, for regulation, after a technical process delivered in June 2022, when UNAC and INIAV request the change of the pine cone harvesting season to 1 November, hoping with this measure to increase markets transparency.

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SOURCEPinea Spot Congress
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EFIMED is the Mediterranean Facility of the European Forest Institute. Based in Barcelona, Spain, it was launched in 2007.