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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Genetic Variation and the Effect of Herbicide and Fertilization Treatments on Wood Quality Traits in Loblolly Pine

Gräns, Daniel; Isik, Fikret; Purnell, Robert C.; Peszlen, Ilona M; McKeand, Steven E.


The effect of silvicultural treatments (herbicide, fertilization, herbicide + fertilization) and the interactions with genetic effects were investigated for wood quality traits in a 16-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) genetic test established in southwest Georgia, USA. Fertilizer and herbicide treatment combinations were applied multiple times to main plots containing 25 open-pollinated families as sub plots. Significant differences among treatments were found for all traits. Squared acoustic velocity, used as a surrogate for wood stiffness, was higher in herbicide-only plots compared with other treatments. Wood density was considerably lower in fertilization plots. A large proportion of variance observed for wood quality traits was explained by additive genetic effects, with individual-tree heritabilities ranging from 0.78 (ring 7-16 section wood density) to 0.28 (ring 2-6 section wood density). Corresponding family-mean heritability values were well over 0.86. Genotype-by-treatment interactions were nonsignificant for all traits, indicating no need to match families to silvicultural treatments. Wood quality traits had weak genetic correlations with growth and stem quality traits (stem slenderness, sweep, and branch angle) with a range of -0.33 to 0.43, suggesting that recurrent selection on growth or stem quality traits would not adversely affect wood quality in loblolly pine.Study Implications: Silvicultural treatments of herbicide, fertilization, and their combination had significant effects on wood stiffness and wood density in a 16-year-old loblolly pine genetics-by-silviculture trial. When fertilizer was applied, wood density decreased, but the impact on stiffness was minimal. The herbicide treatment increased wood stiffness. As expected, there were large genetic differences for wood quality traits and growth and stem quality traits. Genetics-by-silvicultural treatment interactions were not significant for wood quality traits; family rankings were quite stable across cultural regimes. Families that performed well under one silvicultural treatment performed well under all treatments.


Silviculture; Pinus taeda; genotype by environment interaction; X-ray densitometry; acoustic velocity

Published in

Forest Science
2021, Volume: 67, number: 5, pages: 564-573

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