Current issue: 54(2)
Increased growth rates have reduced rotation lengths, increasing the proportion of juvenile wood relative to mature wood, which may negatively affect mechanical performance of sawn timber. However, there is limited information available on the potential impact of breeding for vigour on juvenile wood in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière). In this study, the relationship between vigour (based on total height) and wood properties was investigated in six-year-old Sitka spruce clones grown in two replicated field trials in Ireland. Six clones were evaluated, two clones from each of three vigour (high, intermediate and low) classes. Discs were cut from the base of one ramet per replication for each clone to assess wood quality attributes. Radial tracheid width was significantly and positively correlated with ring width and height, and was negatively correlated with density. The wood of the most vigorous clone had significantly larger ring width with thinner cell walls and wider tracheids than all clones in the two other vigour classes, resulting in lower mean wood density. Latewood properties for all wood attributes measured differed significantly between the two sites. Wood property differences resulted primarily from variation in the proportions of early- and latewood in each annual ring. Additionally, the width of early- and latewood bands in each ring was found to be a more important determinant of juvenile wood quality than the characteristics of the cells within each band. Wood properties differed greatly between clones, suggesting that there is potential to improve juvenile wood properties through selective breeding.
During the past 30 years, genetics research has accumulated much information on black spruce (Picea mariana). The adoption of less intensive and faster plustree selection, establishment of seedling seed orchards and family selection significantly increased the rate of progress in improvement of the species. In New Brunswick this approach made it possible to obtain substantial quantities of seeds 10 years after the initiation of the program, and now all the seeds used in reforestation are derived from seed orchards.
Fourteen years after beginning the black spruce breeding program, second generation breeding is underway. The possibility of implementing alternative breeding strategies using ”breeding – cloning” procedures are explored for the advanced generation. Until somatic embryogenesis techniques become fully operational, ”backward selection” schemes and crossing in breeding halls followed by vegetative multiplication using serial rooted cuttings can be adopted. Larger genetic gains than those from conventional breeding are expected not only from the utilization of both additive and non-additive variances, but also from the elimination of inefficiencies of large conventional seed orchards.
Resistance to browsing by mammals differs among birch species, and among origins and families of European white birch (Betula pendula Roth). The variation in resistance is large even among individual seedlings of the same family.
On the surface of the bark of European white birch seedlings there are resin droplets, and the number of droplets is strongly and positively correlated with resistance to browsing by hares. The resistance of European white birch apparently is not expensive metabolically because the rapid growth rate of seedlings was positively correlated with hare resistance, and no correlation was found between seedling size and vole resistance. In cafeteria experiments voles and hares were very discriminating in their feeding on birch seedlings. In field experiments, however, environmental heterogeneity partly masked differences in vole resistance among birch families. Fertilization of seedlings seems not to have a clear effect on resistance to hares. On the other hand, there were indications that greenhouse temperature had an effect on resistance to voles. Practical forestry applications of differences in resistance, e.g. use of species hybrids and clonal forestry, are discussed. The prospects for resistance breeding are good.
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.