A major barrier to the commercialization of somatic embryogenesis technology in loblolly pine (LP, Pinus taeda L.) is recalcitrance of some high-value crosses to initiate embryogenic tissue and to continue early-stage somatic embryo growth. Developing initiation and multiplication media that resemble the seed environment may decrease this recalcitrance. Sugar and sugar alcohol analyses were performed weekly throughout the sequence of seed development for female gametophyte and zygotic embryo tissues to determine physiologic concentrations (Pullman, G.S. and M. Buchanan. 2008. Identification and quantitative analysis of stage-specific carbohydrates in LP (Pinus taeda) zygotic embryo and female gametophyte tissues. Tree Physiol. 28:985-996). Major differences in stage-specific sugars were observed. A simple bioassay was used to evaluate the potential growth promotion of individual carbohydrates added to initiation or multiplication media at physiologic concentrations. Seventeen sugars were screened. Compounds showing statistically significant increases in early-stage embryo growth were then tested for the ability to increase the initiation of LP. d-xylose and d-chiro-inositol produced statistically significant increases in early-stage embryo growth. When tested for improved initiation in P. taeda, Pseudotsuga menziesii (mirb) Franco and Picea abies L., Karst., d-xylose increased the averages of initiation by 6.5%, 7.3% and 16.7%, respectively. d-chiro-inositol increased the initiation in P. taeda by 7.3% in one test but not in the other, whereas in P. menziesii the initiation increases averaged 8.4% in two tests. Analyses of sugars and sugar alcohols in the seed environment coupled with a bioassay to screen potential media supplements for protocol improvement resulted in statistically significant increases in embryogenic tissue initiation for several coniferous species.