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Significance and Applicability of Seed Maturity Indices for Ponderosa Pine

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Every conscientious collector of coniferous tree seed must face the recurrent and somewhat perplexing problem of determining the stage when cones are ready for picking, that is, sufficiently ripe to yield high quality seed. In ponderosa pine, as indeed in most coniferous species, the problem is complicated by the fact that the external appearance of the maturing fruit is not strongly indicative of the maturity of the seed. The cones ripen on the tree without appreciable change in color and begin to release seed in late summer or early autumn. Cone collectors, therefore, need to be able to determine within rather narrow limits and in advance of seedfall how soon it is safe to remove the cones from the tree. Failure to do so with accuracy and reasonable dispatch is certain to result in losses in some instances, because premature harvesting causes injury or death of immature embryos as well as difficulty, if not impossibility, of extracting a fair proportion of fully formed seed; in others because unnecessary postponement of harvesting involves loss of the seed already escaped from the cone. Obviously, what the cone gatherer needs is a reliable index of seed maturity. Such an index was developed recently for ponderosa pine in central Idaho.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station

Publication date: January 1, 1940

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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