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Genetic relationships between wood quality traits and diameter growth of juvenile core wood in Sitka spruce

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The trend towards shorter rotations in planted conifer stands has resulted in a reduction in the proportion of mature wood relative to juvenile core wood, raising concerns that the mechanical performance of sawn battens will be affected. The potential to improve the wood quality of the juvenile core of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carrière) without compromising growth rate was investigated. Rapid and inexpensive indirect methods of assessing wood properties on standing trees using a Pilodyn gun and acoustic velocity were compared with direct measurements made on wood samples cut from the juvenile core. Strong genetic correlations were observed between Pilodyn gun values and direct measures of density (–0.76) and between the square of acoustic velocity and modulus of elasticity (0.73). The genetic correlation between the square of acoustic velocity and microfibril angle was also strong (–0.84). These results suggest that indirect assessments of wood properties within juvenile core wood are sufficiently reliable for these techniques to be used in the Sitka spruce breeding programme. Although a strong negative genetic correlation between diameter at breast height and density was noted (–0.79), sufficient variation exists within the breeding population to select families with both good growth rate and high modulus of elasticity wood.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, Aberdeen, AB24 5UU. 2: Forestry Commission, Northern Research Station, Roslin, Midlothian, EH25 9SY.

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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