New Forests

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 93–107 | Cite as

Impacts of nursery cultural treatments on stress tolerance in 1 + 0 container white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench] Voss) seedlings for summer-planting

  • Weixing TanEmail author
Original Paper


Impacts of nursery cultural treatments (T) on stress tolerance of greenhouse-grown 1 + 0 container white spruce (Picea glauca [Moench] Voss) seedlings (mean height 24 cm, root collar diameter 3.1 mm) for summer planting were studied. Seedlings were subjected to 12-h short-day treatments of 0 (T0), 3 (T3), 7 (T7), 10 (T10), or 15 (T15) days, followed by 0, 7, 17, 40, or 46 days of reduced N supply, respectively. Relevant physiological and morphological factors were examined concurrently. Foliar N concentrations exceeded optimal levels and differed little among treatments, suggesting a minor confounding role for N reduction. Both frost and drought tolerance increased incrementally from T0 through T15. Electrolyte leakage index decreased steadily from T0 (25% for roots, 17% for needles) to T15 (1% for roots, 2% for needles) after 2-h exposure of fine roots to  − 2°C and of needles to  − 8°C. Withholding soil watering for 19 days caused 80% mortality among seedlings in T0, 50% in T3, and  < 10% in T7–T15. The transpiration decline curve suggested that enhanced drought tolerance was largely attributable to quicker stomatal closure during water stress and lower cuticular transpiration rate. The treatments increased root growth capacity on a per-seedling, but not per-root-mass, basis. Needle primordia were developed in all T7-T15 seedlings but not in T0 and T3 treatments, suggesting that nurseries may need no more than 7 days of blackout application for conditioning spruce seedlings for summer planting. Shoot dry weight fraction increased gradually from T0 through T15 and was linearly correlated with needle specific weight and frost tolerance, and may thus be useful in monitoring progress of conditioning treatments.


Short-day Conditioning Drought tolerance Frost tolerance Physiology 


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The funding support for this study was provided by Manning Diversified Forest Products Research Trust Fund. The Pacific Regeneration Technology Beaverlodge Nursery and Grande Prairie Regional College provided in-kind support. The author thanks Rick Scott, Audrey Wells, Yueqing Lin, Steven Kiiskila and Fiona Sample for their technical assistance. Reviews and comments from Dr. Roy Sutton and two anonymous reviewers on earlier drafts are greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ScienceGrande Prairie Regional CollegeGrande PrairieCanada

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