Current issue: 57(2)
Under compilation: 57(3)
Investing in planting genetically improved silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in Swedish plantations requires understanding how birch stands will develop over their entire rotation. Previous studies have indicated relatively low production of birch compared to Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). This could result from using unrepresentative basic data, collected from unimproved, naturally-regenerated birch (Betula spp.) growing on inventory plots often located in coniferous stands. The objective of this study was to develop a basal area development function of improved silver birch and evaluate production over a full rotation period. We used data from 52 experiments including planted silver birch of different genetic breeding levels in southern and central Sweden. The experimental plots were established on fertile forest sites and on former agricultural lands, and were managed with different numbers of thinnings and basal area removal regimes. The model best describing total stand basal area development was a dynamic equation derived from the Korf base model. The analysis of the realized gain trial for birch showed a good stability of the early calculated relative differences in basal area between tested genotypes over time. Thus, the relative difference in basal area might be with cautious used as representation of the realized genetic gain. On average forest sites in southern Sweden, improved and planted silver birch could produce between 6–10.5 m3 ha–1 year–1, while on fertile agriculture land the average productivity might be higher, especially with material coming from the improvement program. The performed analysis provided a first step toward predicting the effects of genetic improvement on total volume production and profitability of silver birch. However, more experiments are needed to set up the relative differences between different improved material.
The genus Betula L. is composed of several species, which are difficult to distinguish in the field on the basis of morphological traits. The aim of this study was to evaluate the taxonomic importance of using visible + near infrared (Vis + NIR) spectra of single seeds for differentiating Betula pendula Roth and Betula pubescens Ehrh. Seeds from several families (controlled crossings of known parent trees) of each species were used and Vis + NIR reflectance spectra were obtained from single seeds. Multivariate discriminant models were developed by Orthogonal Projections to Latent Structures – Discriminant Analysis (OPLS-DA). The OPLS-DA model fitted on Vis + NIR spectra recognized B. pubescens with 100% classification accuracy while the prediction accuracy of class membership for B. pendula was 99%. However, the discriminant models fitted on NIR spectra alone resulted in 100% classification accuracies for both species. Absorption bands accounted for distinguishing between birch species were attributed to differences in color and chemical composition, presumably polysaccharides, proteins and fatty acids, of the seeds. In conclusion, the results demonstrate the feasibility of NIR spectroscopy as taxonomic tool for classification of species that have morphological resemblance.
Results on early survival, growth and shoot phenology of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. × P. tremuloides Michx.) and poplar clones (P. trichocarpa Torr. & A. Gray, P. balsamifera L., P. maximowiczii A. Henry and their hybrids) in 13 Scandinavian field trials are presented. The trials were established on forest land (7 sites) or former agricultural land (6 sites) within the latitude range of 56° to 65° N and were assessed 3–4 years after establishment. The main aim was to evaluate phenotypic and genetic differences related to early survival, growth and phenology for hybrid aspen and poplar for different site types and latitudes. Growth and survival was generally higher for hybrid aspen than poplar at all sites. The poor performance of poplar compared to hybrid aspen is likely due to climatic maladaptation or high soil acidity. The early growth performance of the species need to be confirmed at a higher age. The genetic variation and genetic control for growth, phenology and survival was in general intermediate to large indicating good possibilities for effective clonal selection. The genetic site x site correlations (rGE) for growth were for hybrid aspen mostly strong, indicating a weak genotype by environment interaction, while rGE were inconsistent for poplars.The result suggests that southern Sweden can be treated as a single test and utilization zone and in northern Sweden the region along the coast may be another zone. It is too early to make any corresponding conclusions for poplar. In addition, the result backs up the current recommendations for utilization of selected hybrid aspen and poplar regeneration material in Sweden.
Pruning was performed at midsummer in two genetically homogenous and managed planted silver birch stands in southern Sweden – one aged 9 and one aged 10 years. Wood defects were analysed 10 years thereafter, using the five uppermost twigs of the stems up to a height of 30 dm. The number of trees examined at each site was around 70, of which half were pruned. The main findings were that: a) compared to unpruned trees, pruned trees produced more defect-free wood outside the knots; b) most wood defects were found inside the knots; and c) wood defects like rot and bark ingrowth were similar for pruned and unpruned trees, while discolouration was marginally higher for pruned trees inside knots but similar outside knots. Overall, the results confirm previous findings that pruned birch trees will provide butt logs with higher value than unpruned trees.
The Nordic and Baltic countries are in the frontline of replacing fossil fuel with renewables. An important question is how forest management of the productive parts of this region can support a sustainable development of our societies in reaching low or carbon neutral conditions by 2050. This may involve a 70% increased consumption of biomass and waste to meet the goals. The present review concludes that a 50–100% increase of forest growth at the stand scale, relative to today’s common level of forest productivity, is a realistic estimate within a stand rotation (~70 years). Change of tree species, including the use of non-native species, tree breeding, introduction of high-productive systems with the opportunity to use nurse crops, fertilization and afforestation are powerful elements in an implementation and utilization of the potential. The productive forests of the Nordic and Baltic countries cover in total 63 million hectares, which corresponds to an average 51% land cover. The annual growth is 287 million m3 and the annual average harvest is 189 million m3 (65% of the growth). A short-term increase of wood-based bioenergy by utilizing more of the growth is estimated to be between 236 and 416 TWh depending on legislative and operational restrictions. Balanced priorities of forest functions and management aims such as nature conservation, biodiversity, recreation, game management, ground water protection etc. all need consideration. We believe that these aims may be combined at the landscape level in ways that do not conflict with the goals of reaching higher forest productivity and biomass production.