Density and wood biomass development in whole-tree analyses of Scots pine, and aspects on heritability estimates

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Twelve trees in a 36 year old full-sib progeny plantation, testing a part of the Scots pine breeding population, were analysed for wood density and the width of the earlywood and latewood sections in each annual ring. Wood samples (stem discs) were taken with 1 m intervals along the stem and the analyses covered thus the whole stem. Based on these data, the biomass of the earlywood and latewood of each annual ring in each 1 meter stem section was estimated. Latewood density increased from pith to bark while it decreased from stem base to top. Earlywood density was of similar size both radially and vertically. The biomass in each annual ring increased until around ring number 10 from pith for both wood types. For earlywood it then decreased while it remained quite constant for latewood. Latewood biomass decreased more rapidly towards the top of the tree than earlywood biomass. Heritabilities for earlywood and latewood in each annual ring at breast height (estimated in the same material in a previous study) were related to the corresponding biomasses to indirectly estimate overall heritability for wood density valid for the whole stem. The analyses indicate that the decrease in heritability for latewood density and increase for earlywood density, from the pith to bark, is compensated by the increase in latewood biomass in relation to earlywood biomass. Thus, the heritability of the latewood density and earlywood density seems to have the same influence on the overall heritability for density in the whole stem.

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