Management intensity effects on growth and physiological responses of loblolly pine varieties and families growing in the Virginia Piedmont and North Carolina Coastal Plain of the United States

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Virginia Tech


Varietal forestry may increase the productivity of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) in the Southern United Sates. However, the effects of these genetic x environment interactions are still poorly understood. In this study we examined the responses in growth, stand uniformity and leaf level physiology of loblolly pine clonal varieties and families to silvicultural intensity and site effects. We also looked for patterns in observed traits that were consistent between crown ideotypes. Two varieties of each crown ideotype (narrow vs broad crowns) and two families (controlled mass pollinated (CMP) and open pollinated (OP) family) were tested on the Virginia Piedmont (VA) and the North Carolina Coastal Plain (NC) under different silvicultural intensities (operational vs intensive), and planting density (617, 1235 and 1852 trees per hectare). Data were collected during the first four growing season after establishment. At NC, intensive silviculture increased crown-width, height and dbh by 33%, 14%, and 23%, respectively. At VA, intensive silviculture increased crown-width, height and dbh by 41%, 10%, and 23%, respectively. Intensive silviculture also increased slightly but significantly the stand uniformity of stem growth. However, the differences in productivity between silvicultural treatments were not explained by differences in leaf-level physiology. Across all treatments and sites the varieties generally grew faster than the OP family, but the differences were higher at VA. Varieties did not differ in stem growth, but the broadest crown variety had greater stand uniformity, photosynthetic rate (Asat), carbon isotope discrimination (∆¹³) and lower fascicle size than the OP family. None of the traits assessed inthis study was consistent within the ideotypes. Varieties classified in the same crown-ideotypes may respond differently to the environmental effects of site and silviculture, which reinforces the need of matching varietal forestry with precision silviculture to achieve gains in productivity.



Pinus taeda, ideotype, intensive silviculture, genetic by environment interaction, varietal forestry, photosynthesis, carbon isotope discrimination