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Ten-year growth and mortality in young Douglas-fir stands experiencing a range in Swiss needle cast severity

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Swiss needle cast, a foliar disease caused by the Ascomycete Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii (T. Rohde) Petr., continues to afflict Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) in north coastal Oregon. Permanent plots were installed in 1998 to assess growth impacts and monitor disease severity. Gross periodic annual increment was measured for three 2-year growth periods and one 4-year growth period and ranged from 0.37 to 31.74 m3·ha–1·year–1. Foliage retention, defined as the average number of annual needle age classes held by a tree, was also estimated as an index of disease severity. Assuming negligible losses in stands with maximum needle retention (approximately 3.9 years), growth losses in net periodic annual increment reached slightly over 50% in stands with the lowest needle retention (approximately 1 year). Mixed-effects regression models supported a consistent relationship between foliage retention and both gross and net periodic annual increment among the four growth periods. Periodic annual mortality ranged from 0 to 19.12 m3·ha–1·year–1 but was not significantly influenced by Swiss needle cast as measured by average foliage retention. Minimum and maximum foliage retention has fluctuated annually from 1998 to 2008 on the permanent plots, but growth losses at a given level of foliage retention appear to have remained stable. Estimated growth losses are similar to those reported for comparable levels of defoliation by other agents.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. 2: Oregon Department of Forestry, 2600 State Street, Salem, OR 97310, USA.

Publication date: October 8, 2011

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