Journal Article

Delayed soil thawing affects root and shoot functioning and growth in Scots pine

Tapani Repo, Tarja Lehto and Leena Finér

in Tree Physiology

Volume 28, issue 10, pages 1583-1591
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
Delayed soil thawing affects root and shoot functioning and growth in Scots pine

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In boreal regions, soil can remain frozen after the start of the growing season. We compared relationships between root characteristics and water relations in Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) saplings subjected to soil frost treatments before and during the first week of the growing period in a controlled environment experiment. Delayed soil thawing delayed the onset of sap flow or totally blocked it if soil thawing lagged the start of the growing period by 7 days. This effect was reflected in the electrical impedance of needles and trunks and in the relative electrolyte leakage of needles. Prolonged soil frost reduced or completely inhibited root growth. In unfrozen soil, limited trunk sap flow was observed despite unfavorable aboveground growing conditions (low temperature, low irradiance, short photoperiod). Following the earliest soil thaw, sap flow varied during the growing season, depending on light and temperature conditions, phenological stage of the plant and the amount of live needles in the canopy. The results suggest that delayed soil thawing can reduce tree growth, and if prolonged, it can be lethal.

Keywords: biomass; electrical impedance; minirhizotron imaging; phenology; REL; root morphology; sap flow; soil frost

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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