Current issue: 52(3)
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.
Operating conditions affecting the quality of spot mounding by Bracke continuously advancing mounders were investigated on 66 regeneration areas (124 ha) in eastern Finland. The quality of mounds was classified as suitable (good or acceptable after additional compression) or unsuitable for planting. Models were constructed for the number of suitable planting spots obtained per hectare (good and acceptable mounds), the probability of successful mounding (≥1600 planting spots ha–1) and the probability of creating a suitable mound as a function of terrain, site and soil characteristics, as well as slash conditions (removed, fresh or dry logging residues). The average number of mounds created was 1892 ± 290 mounds ha–1, of which 1398 ± 325 mounds ha–1 (74%) were classified as suitable for planting. The quality of spot mounding was reduced by steep terrain, a thick humus layer and fresh logging residues. Stoniness and soil texture also affected the number of planting spots created. Mounding after logging residues had dried increased the number of planting spots by 191 spots ha–1 compared with mounding in the presence of fresh residues. Removing residues did not significantly increase the number of planting spots compared with mounding amongst dry residues. A thick humus layer, very stony soil, steep slopes and valley terrain decreased the number of planting spots by 150–450 spots ha–1. The number and quality of mounds varied considerably according to the operating conditions, but with careful selection of timing and sites the quality obtained by a continuously advancing mounder can be improved.
In this study we determined the effect of transformation of a mature sessile oak forest stand into a coppiced forest, and of thinning and throughfall reduction in a coppice stand on soil water content (SWC) and soil CO2 efflux. The precipitation reduction was induced by installing parallel drainage channels in both unthinned and thinned coppice stands. The driving factor for temporal dynamics of soil CO2 efflux in all plots was soil temperature. The other factor was soil water content but only up to about 15%. Above this threshold, there was no more effect on CO2 efflux. We found no clear difference in SWC or soil CO2 efflux between the mature and coppiced stand eight years after harvesting. On the other hand, thinning of the coppice stand resulted in increase in SWC up to 22% in proportion, which we assume to be a result of increased gap fraction of the canopy. However, no effect on soil CO2 efflux was observed two years after the thinning. Installation of the drainage channels in two plots covering 30% of the ground area resulted in decrease in SWC up to a proportional 30.5% and thus contributed up to 50.7% reduction in soil CO2 efflux.
Genetic improvements in the mechanical properties of wood are important in forestry species used for lumber, such as Picea. The within-tree radial and among-family variations for the modulus of elasticity (MOE), modulus of rupture (MOR), and their related traits [i.e., microfibril angle (MFA) of the S2 layer in latewood tracheid and air-dry density (AD)] were evaluated in nine open-pollinated families of Picea glehnii (F. Schmidt) Mast. The radial variation in MOR was mainly affected by AD, whereas MOE was affected by MFA and AD. Higher F-values obtained by analysis of variance and coefficient of variation were observed for all properties at the 6th–15th annual ring, except for AD at the 6th–10th annual ring. This result suggests that the contribution of genetic effect is larger in these highly variable regions. In addition, positive correlation coefficients were obtained between wood properties at the 6th–15th annual ring and mean values of these properties. Therefore, genetic improvements for MOE, MOR, and their related traits in P. glehnii is likely to be more effective in juvenile wood, specifically at the 6th–15th annual ring from the pith.
According to the National Energy and Climate Strategy of Finland in 2016, the demand for forest chips, that is, wood chips made of forest biomass directly for energy use, could even double by 2030 compared to the present situation. A spatially explicit impact analysis of regional supply and demand balances for forest chips was carried out. The balances were calculated as the difference between technical harvesting potentials and demand. First, the technical potentials were estimated based on the national forest inventory data. Secondly, three demand scenarios were defined for 2030 and subsequently deducted from the potentials. The results suggested that there would be increasing competition for feedstock in southern and western Finland, whereas in eastern and northern Finland there would still be surplus potential. Moreover, due to the remarkable deficit of small trees in southern Finland, there might be pressure towards using more pulpwood-sized and/or imported wood in energy production. The results also showed that, in particular, large new plants consuming substantial amounts of forest chips could have a significant effect on the regional availability of forest chips. Moreover, with increasing transport distances, new logistical solutions will be needed.
Harvesting residues collected from the final cuttings of boreal forests are an important source of solid biofuel for energy production in Finland and Sweden. In the Finnish supply chain, the measurement of residues is performed by scales integrated in forwarders. The mass of residues is converted to volume by conversion factors. In this study, weather based models for defining the moisture content of residues were developed and validated. Models were also compared with the currently used fixed tables of conversion factors. The change of the moisture content of residues is complex, and an exact estimation was challenging. However, the model predicting moisture change for three hour periods was found to be the most accurate. The main improvement compared to fixed tables was the lack of a systematic error. It can be assumed that weather based models will give more reliable estimates for the moisture in varying climate conditions and the further development of models should be focused on obtaining more appropriate data from varying drying conditions in different geographical and microclimatological locations.
The objective of the study was to ascertain the effects of tree selection (thinning from below, from above and according to stem quality) and timing of first commercial thinning (early and delayed) on the growth, yield and quality of trees in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand. A long-term field experiment (25 years) was measured in 5-year periods and the further development was simulated with growth and yield models to final cuttings using alternative rotation periods of 55–85 years. The measurements included also the exact location and type of technical defects detected on all trees in the experimental plots. The measured volume increment per unit area during the study period, 25 years after the early thinning stage was the lowest in the plots thinned from below, and the highest in the plots thinned from above or in the delayed thinning plots. However, the largest volume of saw logs during the whole rotation of 80 years was yielded after early first thinning according to the quality. The largest volume of very high-quality butt logs was produced by pruning connected with early thinning from above, and a smaller volume after early thinning according to stem quality but no after thinning from below or delayed first thinning. Without pruning an early quality thinning with one intermediate thinning was the most profitable thinning treatment in the Scots pine stand regardless the rotation length or the interest rate used. By interest rates of 1% and 2%, the optimal rotations were 80–85 years and 70 years respectively. A late thinning at the age of 60 year with long rotation was profitable only for the pruned pine stands with a low interest rate.
There is a need to extend the planting season of conifer regeneration into periods where the soil remains unfrozen due to a lack of available labor and the mechanization of planting. This study investigated how the summer- (August) and autumn-, especially late autumn (mid-September to mid-October) plantings affect the field performance of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) container seedlings. This study examined the timing of root growth just after planting, shoot flush and the start of root growth the following spring, and subsequent field performance. Seedlings of both species were planted in a nursery field trial, and in a clearcut reforestation site from August to October and the following May. The root growth of planted seedlings declined in September and ceased after mid-September. In the following spring, seedlings which were planted in early-autumn started their root growth faster than late-autumn-planted seedlings in both species. There was no difference in the timing of shoot flush for various planting dates. During the initial two years after planting, the shoot growth of spring-planted seedlings was lower, compared to autumn-planted seedlings. In conclusion, it is possible to plant conifer seedlings in the boreal forest zone up to October under non-limiting field conditions.
Light is an important environmental factor for all green plants. Its intensity, spectral composition and photoperiod can affect the regulatory pathways in plants that lead to floral initiation. In this report, results are presented from three experiments in which supplemental light with metal halide lamps (250 µmol m–2 s–1, 20 hours day–1, approx. 6 weeks) was tested as a complement to other flowering stimulation treatments (elevated temperature, treatment with gibberellin A4 and A 7 (GA4/7), restricted water supply) applied to potted Picea abies (L.) Karst. in the greenhouse. Flower stimulation in a greenhouse resulted in more floral initiation compared to flower stimulation outdoors. Supplemental light treatment increased floral initiation further, and to a larger extent in female than in male flowers. It also increased the proportion of trees and genotypes that induced reproductive buds. In a practical application of the supplemental light treatment to potted Picea abies breeding material, 90.6% of the clones produced either female or male flowers, or both. A subset of the same material kept outdoors, and thus subjected to natural light and temperatures, produced no flowers despite being treated with GA4/7 and receiving a restricted water supply. In conclusion, supplemental light treatment facilitates breeding programmes, and seed production of highly improved base material from new selections for vegetative production programmes, to be more efficient.
Accurate assessment of canopy structure is crucial in studying plant-environment interactions. The advancement of functional-structural plant models (FSPM), which incorporate the 3D structure of individual plants, increases the need for a method for accurate mathematical descriptions of leaf shape. A model was developed as an improvement of an existing leaf shape algorithm to describe a large variety of leaf shapes. Modelling accuracy was evaluated using a spatial segmentation method and shape differences were assessed using principal component analysis (PCA) on the optimised parameters. Furthermore, a method is presented to calculate the mean shape of a dataset, intended for obtaining a representative shape for modelling purposes. The presented model is able to accurately capture a large range of single, entire leaf shapes. PCA illustrated the interpretability of the parameter values and allowed evaluation of shape differences. The model parameters allow straightforward digital reconstruction of leaf shapes for modelling purposes such as FSPMs.
Genetically improved Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) are extensively used in operational Swedish forestry plantations. However, relatively little is known about the stem slenderness (height-diameter ratio) of genetically improved material. Thus, in this study we investigated effects of plus-tree selection on stem slenderness of Norway spruce and Scots pine in Sweden by evaluating both the plus-tree selection and a large number of progeny trials. Species-specific models for predicting the height-diameter ratio were estimated using regression and mixed model approach. Our results show that phenotypic plus-tree selection promoted less slender Norway spruce trees and more slender Scots pine trees compared to neighboring trees. Similar results were also found for the progeny trials which indicated that genetics played a prominent role in the phenotypic appearance. Compared to the progeny of neighboring trees, Norway spruce plus-tree progenies had a 5.3% lower height-diameter ratio, while Scots pine plus-tree progenies had a 1.5% greater height-diameter ratio. The narrow sense heritability for height-diameter ratio was 0.19 for Norway spruce and 0.11 for Scots pine, indicating that it is possible to modify the height-diameter ratio by breeding. Correlation coefficients between breeding values for height-diameter ratio and diameter were negative for Scots pine (–0.71) and Norway spruce (–0.85), indicating that selection for diameter only would result in less slender stems of both species. Similar correlations were also found between breeding values for height-diameter ratio and height of Scots pine (–0.34) and Norway spruce (–0.74).
We investigated the impact of a colony of great cormorants on the vegetation of the old growth Pinus sylvestris L. forest on the Curonian Spit peninsula, Lithuania. We studied the characteristics and rates of plant cover changes under varying length and intensity of bird influence. Plant species numbers, as well as the coverage of plants with different ecological requirements, varied according to the period of bird influence, but the resulting vegetation also depended upon the stand elevation above sea level. In our study, the initial increase in plant species richness at the start of bird nesting was not obvious and was of a transient character, due to the weak invasion of non-forest species and the rapid decline of forest plants. The colony area showed obvious and rapid vegetation changes during the investigation period. According to the calculated colony expansion rates, after 6–7 years of impact from birds the tree layer decreased by about four fold; the shrub layer decreased by about two fold; the field layer decreased by about 15 fold; and the dwarf shrub and bottom layers disappeared. The coverage by oligotrophic species decreased by more than four fold, while the coverage by eutrophic species increased by more than 60 fold. After 9–10 years of ornithogenic impact, all the trees were dead, and the protected coniferous forest ecosystem, with its characteristic plant species, had ceased to exist as such.