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Provenance Trials of Ponderosa Pine in Northern California

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Growth of 17 ponderosa pine populations transferred within the southern Cascades–Sierra Nevada ranges were tested for 19 years on two contrasting sites, Cherry Hill (CH) and Peanut Springs (PS). Seven additional southern Sierra populations were tested at PS. Results provide guidance to forest managers seeking to reforest ponderosa pine after large wildfires or to improve productivity of plantations. PS represented warm, moist, lower mixed-conifer sites in the central Sierra. CH represented colder, drier climates at the southern limit of the Cascades in upper elevation mixed-conifer. High inherent site productivity at PS was reduced by topsoil displacement and brush competition for moisture and/or nutrients. Contrasting magnitudes and patterns of growth among provenances were expressed between sites. The local provenance at PS outgrew more distant sources by 12 to 74%. However, high elevation, nonlocal Sierra sources grew best at CH, where volume decreased with source latitude and increased with source elevation. All sources had stockier form at CH. In both tests, Sierra sources outgrew and were stockier than Cascade sources; stockiness increased with source elevation. Current results at CH support matching provenance elevation with site, using southern sources. Results at PS strongly support the use of local seed, with allowance for transferring seed to adjacent zones. FOR. SCI. 51(6):595–607.

Keywords: Tree improvement; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; genetics; natural resource management; natural resources; seed transfer; seed zones

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Regional Geneticist, Now Retired Pacific Southwest Region, Genetic Resources and Conservation Center USDA Forest Service 2741 Cramer Lane Chico CA 95928 Current Address: Consulting Forest Geneticist 5882 Oakmore Drive Paradise CA 95969 Phone: (530) 877-3711 j_, Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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