Developing elite clones and seed for improvements in productivity and profit

The Crown in right of the State of NSW acting through the Department of Primary Industries

  • Project code: PRJ-009617

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, October 31, 2014

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, August 30, 2017

  • National Priority: TTO-Improving supply


The tea tree oil industry has become an important regional industry in Australia with a farm-gate value in excess of $25M with 80% of the product exported. Australian producers face fluctuating oil prices and with growing international competition, need to use higher yielding varieties to obtain higher efficiencies of production if they are to remain economically viable in the long term.
The tea tree breeding project commenced in 1993 and has released progressively improved seed to the industry that has increased oil yield from 148kg/ha to 270kg/ha (Doran et al. 2006).
Seedlots to be released to industry during this project from the third generation seedling seed orchards (SSO3s) are predicted to give greater than 100% improvement in yields compared to typical yields at the start of tree improvement activities. Industry adoption of this improved seed could mean an annual $3.5M windfall to Australian growers.
Selected clones have been shown experimentally to be 40% higher yielding than improved seed and, although subject to higher establishment costs, were shown to be a better option economically than improved seedlings. Even greater yield improvements can be predicted with confidence from clones selected during this project.
The breeding program will make a full transition to industry ownership during this project.


Tea Tree Oil

Research Organisation

The Crown in right of the State of NSW acting through the Department of Primary Industries

Objective Summary

To develop and release elite clones and seed to improve plantation productivity and profit.
Progressive genetic improvement is achieved through (1) the ongoing development of established seed orchards to improve the genetic quality of selectable traits (2) the establishment of new seed orchards to advance genetic gain (3) the establishment of trials to quantify yield gains and provide new selections for elite clones and (4) assist industry to transition the breeding program to industry ownership.