Current issue: 54(2)
Hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × P. tremuloides) is one of the fastest growing tree species in Finland. During the mid-1990s, a breeding programme was started with the aim of selecting clones that were superior in producing pulpwood. Hybrid aspen can also be grown as a short-rotation crop for bioenergy. To study clonal variation in wood and bark properties, seven clones were selected from a 12-year-old field trial located in southern Finland. From each clone, five trees were harvested and samples were taken from stem wood, stem bark and branches to determine basic density, effective heating value, moisture and ash content. Vertical within-tree variation in moisture content and basic density was also studied. The differences between clones were significant for almost all studied properties. For all studied properties there was a significant difference between wood and bark. Wood had lower ash content (0.5% vs. 3.9%), basic density (378 kg m–3 vs. 450 kg m–3) and effective heating value (18.26 MJ kg–1 vs. 19.24 MJ kg–1), but higher moisture content (55% vs. 49%) than bark. The values for branches were intermediate. These results suggest that the properties of hybrid aspen important for energy use could be improved by clonal selection. However, selecting clones based on fast growth only may be challenging since it may lead to a decrease in hybrid aspen wood density.
Silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) seed origins from the Baltic countries and from Finland were compared in terms of growth, wood density, bark thickness and the incidence of darkened core wood, frost cracks and decay, and the effect of seed origin latitude was examined in two Finnish provenance trials. The material consisted of 21 stand and single tree origins ranging from latitudes 54° to 63°N from the Baltic countries and Finland. The trials, measured at the age of 22 years, were located at Tuusula (60°21´N), southern Finland and at Viitasaari (63°11´N), central Finland. The Baltic origins were superior to the Finnish ones in the southern trial regarding height, whereas in central Finland the Finnish origins grew better. There was no consistent difference between the Baltic and the Finnish group of origins in wood density. Bark thickness decreased with increasing seed origin latitude. The Baltic origins had significantly thicker bark than the Finnish origins. A moderate positive correlation was detected between the seed origin latitude and the incidence of darkened core wood in the southern trial, where the darkened core wood was more common in the Finnish origins than in the Baltic ones. The highest proportion of trees with frost cracks was detected in the south-western Latvian origins growing in central Finland. Seed transfers from the Baltic would have an increasing effect on the bark thickness of birch logs, but no or only minor effects on wood density. Based on our results, there is no reason to recommend the use of non-native Baltic seed origins in Finland instead of the native locally adapted seed sources.
Growth, crown structure, flowering and seed production of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) seedlings, grafts and micropropagated plants was compared during four years in a polythene greenhouse experiment. The growth of the seedlings was clearly the most vigorous and that of the grafts the weakest, the micropropagated plants being intermediate. The seedlings had the highest and the grafts the lowest number of branches before cutting the tops of the plants, but the differences between the material types were no more significant after cutting the tops. The grafts had significantly shorter and thinner branches than the seedlings and the micropropagated plants, whereas the differences in branch length and branch thickness between the latter two groups were not significant. The grafts started flowering at the age of two years, one year earlier than the other two types of material. At the age of four years the micropropagated plants had abundant seed production, about 75% of that of the seedlings and about two times higher than that of the grafts. Thus, the micropropagated plants can be used instead of grafts when establishing polythene greenhouse seed orchards of birch.
Micropropagated and seed-borne plants of sliver birch (Betula pendula Roth) were compared for survival and growth in a field trial at the age of six years. Three clones for micropropagation were selected from open-pollinated progenies of selected southern Finnish plus trees at the age of 17 and 20. The three seed-borne lots were of southern Finnish stand origin. The best two lots of the experiment as regards the height and diameter growth at the age of six were the clones. The best of these differed significantly from the best-growing seed-grown lot. The weakest lot of the experiment was also a clone which was clearly slow-growing with a dense and bushy crown. Survival of the material was high (mean = 94%), and there was no damage caused by voles and elks, for example. The results clearly show that the selection of material for clonal propagation should be done carefully. The clones should also be tested for performance in the field before propagation on a large scale.
Seed production of micropropagated plants, seedlings and grafts of Silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in a polyethylene greenhouse experiment was followed for five years. The grafts started flowering and seed production at the age of two years, one year earlier than other two types of material. At the age of three the seed production of both micropropagated plants and seedlings was already more than two times higher than that of the grafts. Variation between the clones was high and plant type x clone interaction was significant. At the age of four, in 1993, seed production was high in all three types of material. Seed production of the micropropagated plants was two times higher than that of the grafts but about 75% of that of the seedlings. In 1994 seed production of all three plant types was very low, which shows large variation between different years. The early development of the plant material types suggests that micropropagated plants have higher seed production than grafts and could well be used instead of grafts in polythene greenhouse seed orchards.
Growth and nutrition of 20 clones representing different species and interspecific hybrids of willows (Salix spp.) growing on an abandoned field were studied. There were highly significant differences between the clones as regards the survival, number of sprouts per stool, sprout mean height and diameter and stem biomass production per stool. The differences between the clones in the concentration of all nutrients in both the leaves and stems were highly significant.