, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 31-44

Soil water content and water relations in planted and naturally regenerated Pinus halepensis Mill. seedlings during the first year in semiarid conditions

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The capacity of Aleppo pine (Pinus halpensis Mill.) seedlings to overcome the planting shock in dry conditions was assessed by firstly studying the survival and water status during the first year after planting in relation to soil water content. In spite of receiving only 177 mm rainfall during the year studied, survival of planted Aleppo pine was very high (88.5%). Soil water during summer months (after receiving 67 mm rainfall in winter and spring) was only available at 30–60 cm depth, with tension values of −1.1 and −1.3 MPa in July and August respectively; in these conditions, July predawn xylem water potential measured was −2.5 MPa, and midday potential was −3.6 MPa. According to different authors, these values don't jeopardize the survival of Aleppo pine. In addition, acclimation of outplanted seedlings to environmental conditions was followed by comparing their water relations with those of naturally regenerated seedlings on the site. Predawn and midday xylem water potential showed differences in favour of outplanted seedlings since June, indicating an adjustment to this dry site. Compared to naturally regenerated trees, nursery grown stock of the same age before field planting had much more biomass and higher N and P concentrations and contents; although shoot:root balance and Dickson quality index were not significantly different. Finally, planted seedlings acclimation level during first year was also evaluated by Transplant Stress Index, which value (−0.1278) indicated a slight planting impact.