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Effect of Nutrient Optimization on Branch Characteristics in Picea abies (L.) Karst.

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The number and size of branches are major determinants of log grading. To study the effect of fertilization on branch characteristics in Norway spruce, trees were sampled in a nutrient optimization experiment in northern Sweden. Data were collected from 24 40-yr-old trees from fertilized and control plots after 12 yrs of annual nutrient application. On the fertilized plots, all essential macronutrients and micronutrients were supplied in irrigation water every second day during the growing season. Fertilization increased the number of new branches, but its effect on branch angle and branch mortality was small. Fertilization increased the diameter of the branches that were formed after the initiation of the treatment, but also the diameter of the branches that were formed before the fertilization commenced. Fertilization enhanced the general growth of a tree, but there were no significant changes in the relationships between stem and branch characteristics. Improved growth rate of trees, as an effect of fertilization, may impair branching quality of logs. Such negative effects may, however, to some extent be counteracted by planting density at stand establishment and later thinning regimens.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-07-01

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