Growth Cessation and Autumn-frost Hardiness in One-year-old Picea abies Progenies from Seed Orchards and Natural Stands
One-year-old seedlings of Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] from seed orchards and natural stands were compared with respect to growth cessation and autumn-frost hardiness. The correlation among traits related to growth, growth cessation and frost hardiness on the same plants in two sets of environmental conditions was assessed. Total height, the degrees of shoot lignification and frost hardiness, and the timing of height growth cessation and budset were recorded at two nurseries in central and northern Sweden. Nine seed-orchard seed-lots were compared with seed from 26 natural stands originating from 56° N to 66° N in Sweden. Latitude explained 55–87% of the statistical variation among stands in the analysed traits at the central nursery and 49–84% at the northern nursery. On average, the seed-orchard progeny performed similarly to progeny from natural stands located 1–2° south of the origin of the seed-orchard clones. Reference material representing a geographical gradient was found to be a valuable aid when interpreting the results of growth cessation and frost-hardiness evaluations.