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Establishment and growth of container seedlings for reforestation: A function of stocktype and edaphic conditions


Pinto, Jeremiah R.; Marshall, John D.; Dumroese, R. Kasten; Davis, Anthony S.; Cobos, Douglas R. 2011. Establishment and growth of container seedlings for reforestation: A function of stocktype and edaphic conditions. Forest Ecology and Management. 261:1876-1884.

A properly selected stocktype can greatly enhance reforestation success through increased survival and growth following outplanting. Implementing a robust stocktype trial using stocktypes of equal quality can ensure results lead to the best choice. Six container types, differing primarily in depth and volume, were used to evaluate the performance of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws. var. ponderosa) seedlings outplanted on two sites that varied in volumetric soil moisture content (θ), average temperature, and total precipitation (mesic and xeric). Seedlings in each container type were cultured specifically to achieve uniform seedling quality. After two growing seasons, seedlings planted at the mesic site showed high survival (>99%) and incremental growth gains of 147, 100, and 794% for height, root-collar diameter (RCD), and stem volume, respectively; container types exhibited differences in total height, RCD, and stem volume with larger containers generally yielding the largest seedlings. Seedlings planted at the xeric site experienced 83% survival, smaller growth gains (25, 46, and 220% for height, RCD, and stem volume, respectively), and also exhibited differences in height, RCD, and stem volume. Regression analysis revealed that for each site, initial seedling morphological characteristics were better at predicting absolute height, RCD and stem volume after the first year than after the second year, with initial seedling height offering the best predictive power (R2 = 0.66, mesic site; and R2 = 0.70, xeric site). Second-year absolute growth prediction was poorest on the mesic site (R2 < 0.21). Regression analysis indicates that initial seedling characteristics lost predictive value with time, especially on the mesic site, as seedlings grew out of their initial, container-induced characteristics and become more limited by current environmental and genetic factors. Conversely, on a xeric site, where absolute growth was reduced, traits determined by the container type persisted longer. Selecting stocktypes for mesic site conditions may only be limited by the minimum growth gains desired. Conversely, xeric sites may benefit from deep-planted quality seedlings or carefully planted long-rooted, large container seedlings.

Keywords: ponderosa pine, volumetric soil moisture content, morphology, container seedlings, seedling establishment and growth


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Establishment and growth of container seedlings for reforestation: A function of stocktype and edaphic conditions
Electronic Publish Date: June 3, 2011
Last Update:
June 3, 2011

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