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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Optimal timing of early genetic selection for sawn timber traits in Picea abies

Hallingback, Henrik R.; Hogberg, Karl-Anders; Sall, Harald; Lindeberg, Johan; Johansson, Marie; Jansson, Gunnar


In breeding Norway spruce, selection for improved growth and survival is performed at age 10-15 years in order to optimize genetic gain per year. We investigated whether a selection based on wood traits such as density and grain angle, measured under bark in the field at the same age would be informative enough with respect to structural quality traits of sawn boards. To achieve this objective, a sawing study was conducted on the butt logs of 401 trees from a 34-year-old Norway spruce progeny trial situated in southern Sweden. Stem discs were excised from the top of the logs and radial profile data of grain angle, and wood density was recorded for specific annual rings. The sawn and dried boards were assessed for structural traits such as twist, board density, bending stiffness (static modulus of elasticity, sMoE) and bending strength (modulus of rupture, MoR). Additive genetic correlations (r (a)) between single annual ring density measurements and board density, sMoE and MoR were consistently strong (r (a)> 0.7) for annual rings 5-13. Genetic correlations of similar magnitude between grain angle and board twist were estimated for all investigated annual rings (from 2 to around 26 under bark). Consequently, it was found that indirect selection for wood density and grain angle at the tree age 10-16 years would result in more genetic gain per year than selection at later ages. This makes it feasible to perform simultaneous selection of progeny in the field for both growth and wood traits at similar ages.


Early selection; Grain angle; Wood density; Sawmill study; Structural quality traits; Quantitative genetics

Published in

European Journal of Forest Research
2018, Volume: 137, number: 4, pages: 553-564
Publisher: SPRINGER