Physiological Characteristics and Carbohydrate Contents of Spring-lifted Picea glauca Bareroot Seedlings Following Low-temperature Storage

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This study examined the effects of low-temperature storage of white spruce [Picea glauca (Moench) Voss] bareroot seedlings to determine whether the time between lifting and planting of spring-lifted seedlings could be extended. Seedlings were lifted from the nursery beds on May 4, 1994, and stored at- 2°C (frozen storage) and 4°C (cold storage) for 3, 5 and 7 weeks. Frozen storage of spring-lifted seedlings resulted in an increase in sugar levels in roots and needles that progressed with storage duration. Seedlings stored in cold storage maintained a relatively constant sugar content. Needle starch content decreased with storage duration in both frozen and cold storage. In the roots of cold-stored seedlings, starch content remained relatively constant during storage; however, in the frozen-stored seedlings, root starch levels sharply declined during the initial 3 weeks of storage. The levels of total non-structural carbohydrates (starch and sugars) decreased in both types of storage in needles, but not in roots. However, the decrease was more pronounced in the cold-stored than in the frozen-stored seedlings. Gas exchange, root growth potential and number of days to bud break were similar in frozen- and cold-stored seedlings planted in the greenhouse. However, following planting in the forest, cold-stored seedlings flushed buds earlier than did frozen-stored seedlings. The results indicate that tree nurseries could consider frozen storage of spring-lifted white spruce seedlings to facilitate lifting and planting schedules.
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