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Genetic variation in postharvest needle retention among Nordmann fir families and grafted clones

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Nordmann fir [ Abies nordmanniana (Stev.) Spach.] is a widely used Christmas tree species in northern Europe. In recent years there has also been increasing interest in using Nordmann fir as a Christmas tree in North America. Postharvest quality is a central characteristic for high-quality Christmas trees. To examine the genetic variation in needle retention, a series of experiments was conducted using cut branches from a grafted seed orchard with 23 clones and a progeny trial comprising 19 open-pollinated clonal progenies of the orchard. For both clones and open-pollinated families strong genetic differences were seen in needle retention when branch samples were allowed to dry. Based on one progeny trial, single tree heritabilities were estimated in the range of 0.27–0.31 after 10–15 days of drying. A parent–offspring regression indicated a higher heritability. These results indicate that breeding efforts can be used to improve significantly the postharvest needle retention characteristics of Nordmann fir Christmas trees.
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Keywords: Christmas trees; families; genetic variation; heritability; needle retention; postharvest quality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, KVL, Hørsholm, Denmark 2: Washington State University Research and Extension Center, Puyallup, Washington, USA

Publication date: 01 August 2005

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