Current issue: 54(1)
Under compilation: 54(2)
Genetically improved Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) are extensively used in operational Swedish forestry plantations. However, relatively little is known about the stem slenderness (height-diameter ratio) of genetically improved material. Thus, in this study we investigated effects of plus-tree selection on stem slenderness of Norway spruce and Scots pine in Sweden by evaluating both the plus-tree selection and a large number of progeny trials. Species-specific models for predicting the height-diameter ratio were estimated using regression and mixed model approach. Our results show that phenotypic plus-tree selection promoted less slender Norway spruce trees and more slender Scots pine trees compared to neighboring trees. Similar results were also found for the progeny trials which indicated that genetics played a prominent role in the phenotypic appearance. Compared to the progeny of neighboring trees, Norway spruce plus-tree progenies had a 5.3% lower height-diameter ratio, while Scots pine plus-tree progenies had a 1.5% greater height-diameter ratio. The narrow sense heritability for height-diameter ratio was 0.19 for Norway spruce and 0.11 for Scots pine, indicating that it is possible to modify the height-diameter ratio by breeding. Correlation coefficients between breeding values for height-diameter ratio and diameter were negative for Scots pine (–0.71) and Norway spruce (–0.85), indicating that selection for diameter only would result in less slender stems of both species. Similar correlations were also found between breeding values for height-diameter ratio and height of Scots pine (–0.34) and Norway spruce (–0.74).
Estimates of individual heritability and genetic correlation are presented for a set of 10 growth and quality traits based on data from 16 Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) progeny trials in Finland. Seven of the traits (tree height, stem diameter, crown width, Pilodyn value, branch diameter, branch angle and branch number) were objectively measured, whereas three traits (stem straightness, branching score and overall score) were assessed visually. The genetic correlations were mostly moderate or low, and favourable from the tree breeder's point of view. All variables related to tree size correlated relatively strongly and positively. Tree height exhibited a more favourable genetic relationship with the crown form traits than diameter, the latter showing positive correlation with branch diameter. Except for the slight negative correlation between branch angle and branch diameter, the branching traits were not notably correlated. The pilodyn value was positively correlated with stem diameter, reflecting negative correlation between diameter growth and wood density. The highest genetic correlations occurred among the two visually evaluated quality scores and branch diameter. All of the heritabilities were less than 0.4. Overall score, Pilodyn, branch angle, branching score and tree height showed the highest heritability.