Current issue: 55(3)
Under compilation: 55(4)
Hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × P. tremuloides) is one of the fastest growing tree species in Finland. During the mid-1990s, a breeding programme was started with the aim of selecting clones that were superior in producing pulpwood. Hybrid aspen can also be grown as a short-rotation crop for bioenergy. To study clonal variation in wood and bark properties, seven clones were selected from a 12-year-old field trial located in southern Finland. From each clone, five trees were harvested and samples were taken from stem wood, stem bark and branches to determine basic density, effective heating value, moisture and ash content. Vertical within-tree variation in moisture content and basic density was also studied. The differences between clones were significant for almost all studied properties. For all studied properties there was a significant difference between wood and bark. Wood had lower ash content (0.5% vs. 3.9%), basic density (378 kg m–3 vs. 450 kg m–3) and effective heating value (18.26 MJ kg–1 vs. 19.24 MJ kg–1), but higher moisture content (55% vs. 49%) than bark. The values for branches were intermediate. These results suggest that the properties of hybrid aspen important for energy use could be improved by clonal selection. However, selecting clones based on fast growth only may be challenging since it may lead to a decrease in hybrid aspen wood density.
To project the changes in wood production of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Finland as a result of climate change, two separate studies were made. The first study, at the Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, based its projections on mathematical models; the second one, at the Finnish Forest Research Institute, based projections on measurements of wood production in two series of aged provenance experiments. The results of the two studies were similar for both species: after a 4°C increase of the annual mean temperature a drastic increase in wood production in northern Finland, but little effect, or even some decrease in the southern part of the country. However, the assumptions used in the two studies differed. One important difference was that in the models the temperature is assumed to be increasing gradually over the years, whereas in the provenance experiments, climate changed immediately when the seedlings were transferred to the planting sites. Another problem with the provenance experiments is that when material is moved in a north-south direction in Finland, not only temperature but also photoperiod changes markedly. To compare these two studies, site factors (e.g. soil type, temperature, precipitation) and silvicultural factors (e.g. plant spacing, survival, time of thinning, thinning intensity) from the provenance experiments were included a variable in the mathematical models.