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Predicting sugar maple (Acer saccharum) discoloured wood characteristics

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The presence of wound (strain) initiated discoloured wood columns in the core of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marshall) stems reduces the proportion of white-coloured wood and, thus, lowers its commercial value. This study aimed to assess the relationship between tree characteristics and the extent and proportion of discoloured wood in sugar maple tree stems. Using 109 trees from three different sites in southern Quebec, we found that the proportion of discoloured wood increased with decreasing sapwood volume and increasing tree age. Younger trees showed a significantly lower proportion of discoloured wood volume. Discoloured wood volume increases disproportionately with tree diameter, while varying among sites. The third important factor affecting the amount of discolored wood was tree vigour as measured by crown characteristics and growth rate changes. A nonlinear mixed-effects model was used to predict discoloured wood taper. Height along the stem was used as a predictor, along with diameter at 1.3 m (DBH), the ratio of live crown length to tree height, and tree height. Although observed injury surface area was positively correlated to discoloured wood volume, injury information did not explain a large share of discoloured wood proportion variation. Overall, older and larger trees with many injuries on less productive sites are likely to have more discoloured wood.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF), Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada.

Publication date: April 25, 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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