Influence of thinning on spiral grain in Norway spruce grown on highly productive sites in southern Sweden
Grain spirality was investigated in eight stands of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) subjected to different thinning regimes. The dominating general pattern of spiral grain found in this study was typical for conifers, with a maximum of left-handed spirality close to the pith, which decreased towards the bark and sometimes changed to right-handed spiral grain in the outer growth rings. However, there was a large amount of between-tree variation in spiral grain. The effect of thinning on grain spirality was investigated by relating annual ring width to spiral grain, since thinning affects growth rate. A positive correlation between ring width and grain angle was found, but a considerable number of trees showed no or a negative correlation. A statistically significant effect of ring width was only found in five of the eight stands. Heavy thinnings, removing 60% of the basal area of a stand, considerably increased spiral grain, whereas the effects of light thinnings were inconsistent. These results support the findings of earlier studies indicating that spiral grain formation is under considerable genetic control, while its expression can be changed by silvicultural methods which affect growth rate.
Received 7 April 1998 Accepted 5 November 1998 Published 31 December 1999