Journal Article

The effect of artificially induced drought on radial increment and wood properties of Norway spruce

Tuula Jyske, Teemu Hölttä, Harri Mäkinen, Pekka Nöjd, Ilari Lumme and Heinrich Spiecker

in Tree Physiology

Volume 30, issue 1, pages 103-115
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0829-318X
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1758-4469 | DOI:
The effect of artificially induced drought on radial increment and wood properties of Norway spruce

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We studied experimentally the effects of water availability on height and radial increment as well as wood density and tracheid properties of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). The study was carried out in two long-term N-fertilization experiments in Southern Finland (Heinola and Sahalahti). At each site, one fertilized and one control plot was covered with an under-canopy roof preventing rainwater from reaching the soil. Two uncovered plots were monitored at each site. The drought treatment was initiated in the beginning of growing season and lasted for 60–75 days each year. The treatment was repeated for four to five consecutive years depending on the site. Altogether, 40 sample trees were harvested and discs sampled at breast height. From the discs, ring width and wood density were measured by X-ray densitometry. Tracheid properties were analysed by reflected-light microscopy and image analysis. Reduced soil water potential during the growing season decreased annual radial and height increment and had a small influence on tracheid properties and wood density. No statistically significant differences were found in the average tracheid diameter between the drought-treated and control trees. The average cell wall thickness was somewhat higher (7–10%) for the drought treatment than for the control, but the difference was statistically significant only in Sahalahti. An increased cell wall thickness was found in both early- and latewood tracheids, but the increase was much greater in latewood. In drought-treated trees, cell wall proportion within an annual ring increased, consequently increasing wood density. No interaction between the N fertilization and drought treatment was found in wood density. After the termination of the drought treatment, trees rapidly recovered from the drought stress. According to our results, severe drought due to the predicted climate change may reduce Norway spruce growth but is unlikely to result in large changes in wood properties.

Keywords: fertilization; Picea abies; tracheid dimensions; water availability; wood density

Journal Article.  7244 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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