New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 5–6, pp 679–693 | Cite as

Effect of stock type characteristics and time of planting on field performance of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) seedlings on boreal reclamation sites

  • Simon M. LandhäusserEmail author
  • Javier Rodriguez-Alvarez
  • Eckehart H. Marenholtz
  • Victor J. Lieffers


Aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx) has great potential as a reclamation species for mining sites in the boreal forest, but planting stock has shown poor field performance after outplanting. In this study we tested how different aspen seedling characteristics and planting times affect field outplanting performance on reclamation sites. We produced three different types of aspen planting stock, which varied significantly in seedling size, root-to-shoot ratio (RSR), and total non-structural carbohydrate (TNC) reserves in roots, by artificially manipulating shoot growth during seedling production. All three stock types were then field-planted either in late summer, late fall, or early spring after frozen storage. Seedlings were outplanted onto two reclaimed open-pit mining areas in the boreal forest region of central and east-central Alberta, Canada, which varied significantly in latitude, reclamation history, and soil conditions. Overall, height growth was better in aspen stock types with high RSR and TNC reserves. Differences in field performance among aspen stock types appeared to be more strongly expressed when seedlings were exposed to more stressful environmental site conditions, such as low soil nutrients and moisture. Generally, aspen seedlings planted with leaves in the summer showed the poorest performance, and summer- or fall-planted seedlings with no shoot growth manipulation had much greater stem dieback after the first winter. This indicates that the dormancy and hardening of the stem, as a result of premature bud set treatments, could improve the outplanting performance of aspen seedlings, particularly those planted during summer and fall.


Growth and carbon allocation Nursery stock Root carbohydrate reserves Root-to-shoot ratio Seedling quality 



We thank Brad Pinno, Richard Caners, and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions on improving the manuscript. We are grateful for the field assistance provided by Kim Stang, Jacklyn Burko, Kate Melnik, Tyana Rudolfsen, Candace Serben, Tory Cullen, Ryan Sherritt, Julia Wachowski, Jordana Fair, and Stefan Schreiber. Assistance with sample analyses and TNC measurements was provided by Pak Chow. We especially thank George Greenhough, Dan Kuchmak, Rob Vassov, and Francis Salifu for their logistic support. This research was supported by grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Capital Power, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy, and Syncrude Canada.


  1. Adams DL, Graham RT, Wenny DM (1991) Effect of fall planting on survival and growth of three coniferous species of container seedlings in Northern Idaho. Tree Plant Note 42:52–55Google Scholar
  2. AgroClimatic Information Service (2012) Live station data. Agriculture and Rural Development, Gov Alta, Canada. Accessed 28 Feb 2012
  3. Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration—guidelines for computing crop water requirements. In: FAO irrigation and drainage paper 56. FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. Accessed 04 June 2011
  4. Barber H (1989) Planting western larch: a comparison of stocktypes and season of planting in Northeast Washington. Tree Plant Note 40:20–24Google Scholar
  5. Carlson WC, Miller DE (1990) Target seedling root system size, hydraulic conductivity, and water use during seedling establishment. In: Rose R, Campbell SJ, Landis TD (eds) In: Proceedings, Western Forest Nursery Association, Roseburg, OR. General technical report RM-200, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO, pp 53–65Google Scholar
  6. Carter MR, Gregorich EG (2008) Soil sampling and methods of analysis, 2nd edn. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton/LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Chavasse CGR (1980) Planting stock quality: a review of factors affecting performance. N Z J For 25:144–171Google Scholar
  8. Chow PS, Landhäusser SM (2004) Method for routine measurements of total sugar and starch content in woody plant tissues. Tree Physiol 24:1129–1136PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Day RJ, Butson R (1989) Seedling-water relationships after outplanting. In: MacIvar DC, Street RB, Auclair AN (eds) Climate applications in forest renewal and forest production, proceedings of forest climate’86. Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Orillia, ON, pp 55–62Google Scholar
  10. del Campo AD, Navarro RM, Ceacero CJ (2010) Seedling quality and field performance of commercial stocklots of containerized holm oak (Quercus ilex) in Mediterranean Spain: an approach for establishing a quality standard. New For 39:19–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dierauf T (1989) Early planting, over-winter storage, and late planting of white pine seedlings. Virginia Department of Forestry, Occasional Report 83, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  12. Dormling I, Gustafsson A, von Wettstein D (1968) The experimental control of the life cycle in Picea abies (L.) Karst. I. Some basic experiments on the vegetative cycle. Silvae Genet 17:44–120Google Scholar
  13. Farmer RE Jr (1978) Seasonal carbohydrate levels in roots of Appalachian hardwood planting stock. Tree Plant Note 29:22–24Google Scholar
  14. Galvez DA, Landhäusser SM, Tyree MT (2011) Root carbon reserve dynamics in aspen seedlings: does simulated drought induce reserve limitation? Tree Physiol 31:250–257PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Good GL, Corell TE (1982) Field trials indicate the benefits and limits of fall planting. Am Nurs 155:31–34Google Scholar
  16. Grossnickle SC (2005) Importance of root growth in overcoming planting stress. New For 30:273–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haase DL (2008) Understanding forest seedling quality: measurements and interpretation. Tree Plant Note 52:24–30Google Scholar
  18. Hashizume H, Han H (1993) A study on forestation using large-size Quercus acutissima seedlings. Hardwood Res 7:1–22Google Scholar
  19. Hedden P, Graebet JE (1985) Inhibition of gibberellin biosynthesis by paclobutrazol in cell-free homogenates of Cucurbita maxima endosperm and Malus pumila embryos. J Plant Growth Regul 4:111–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heide OM (1974) Growth and dormancy in Norway spruce ecotypes (Picea abies). I. Interaction of photoperiod and temperature. Physiol Plant 30:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jacobs DF, Salifu KF, Seifert JR (2005) Relative contribution of initial root and shoot morphology in predicting field performance of hardwood seedlings. New For 30:235–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones JB Jr (2001) Laboratory guide for conducting soil tests and plant analysis. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 122–124Google Scholar
  23. Kozlowski TT (1991) Effects of environmental stresses on deciduous trees. In: Mooney HA, Pell E, Winner WE (eds) Response of plants to multiple stresses. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 391–411Google Scholar
  24. Kozlowski TT, Pallardy SG (2002) Growth control in woody plants. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  25. Landhäusser SM, Lieffers VJ (2002) Leaf area renewal, root retention and carbohydrate reserves in a clonal tree species following aboveground disturbance. J Ecol 90:658–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Landhäusser SM, Lieffers VJ (2003) Seasonal changes in carbohydrate reserves in mature northern Populus tremuloides clones. Trees 17:471–476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Landhäusser SM, Lieffers VJ (2009) Improvement of planting stock for short-rotation aspen plantations in Alberta. FRIAA-OF-05-P008, Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, 32 ppGoogle Scholar
  28. Landhäusser SM, Pinno BD, Lieffers VJ, Chow PS (2012) Partitioning of carbon allocation to reserves or growth determines future performance of aspen seedlings. For Ecol Manage 275:43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ledgard NJ, Norton DA (1988) Shoot growth in 2–3 year old Nothofagus seedlings. N Z J Ecol 11:105–108Google Scholar
  30. Levitt J (1980) Responses of plants to environmental stresses, vol 1. Chilling, freezing, and high temperature stress. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Lieffers VJ, Landhäusser SM, Hogg EH (2001) Is the wide distribution of aspen a result of its stress tolerance? In: Shepperd WD, Binkley D, Bartos DL, Stohlgren TJ, Eskew LC (comps) Sustaining aspen in western landscapes. Proceedings, RMRS-P-18. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO, pp 311–323Google Scholar
  32. Little EL Jr (1971) Atlas of United States trees. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 1146, Washington, DC, 9 ppGoogle Scholar
  33. Macdonald SE, Quideau SA, Landhäusser SM (in press) Rebuilding boreal forest ecosystems after industrial disturbance. In: Dale Vitt D, Bhattia J (eds) Reclamation and restoration of boreal ecosystems: attaining sustainable development. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  34. Mamkagh AMA (2009) Effect of tillage time and plastic mulch on growth and yield of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) grown under rain fed conditions. Int J Agric Biol 11:453–457Google Scholar
  35. Marshall JD (1985) Carbohydrate status as a measure of seedling quality. In: Duryea ML (ed) Proceedings, evaluating seedling quality: principles, procedures, and predictive abilities of major tests. Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis, pp 49–58Google Scholar
  36. Martens LA, Landhäusser SM, Lieffers VJ (2007) First-year growth response of cold-stored, nursery-grown aspen planting stock. New For 33:281–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Navarro RM, Retamosa MJ, López J, del Campo A, Ceaceros C, Salmoral L (2006) Nursery practices and field performance for the endangered Mediterranean species Abies pinsapo Boiss: 5-year results. Ecol Eng 27:93–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Page AL (1982) Methods of soil analysis: part 2—chemical and microbiological properties, 2nd edn. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp 416–418Google Scholar
  39. Perala DA (1990) Quaking aspen. In: Burns RM, Honkala BH (eds) Silvics of North America, vol 2. Hardwoods. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC, Agriculture Handbook 654, pp 555–569Google Scholar
  40. Percival GC, AlBalushi AHM (2007) Paclobutrazol-induced drought tolerance in containerized English and Evergreen Oak. Arboric Urban For 33:397–409Google Scholar
  41. Puttonen P (1997) Looking for the “silver bullet”—can one test do it all? New For 13:9–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rietveld W (1988) Effect of paclobutrazol on conifer seedling morphology and field performance. In: Landis TD (ed) Proceedings, combined meeting of the Western Forest Nursery Associations, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, pp 19–23Google Scholar
  43. Rietveld WJ (1989) Transplanting stress in bareroot conifer seedlings: its development and progression to establishment. North J Appl For 6:99–107Google Scholar
  44. Ritchie GA (1984) Chapter 23: Assessing seedling quality. In: Duryea ML, Landis TD (eds) Forest nursery manual: production of bareroot seedlings. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp 243–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Seifert JR, Jacobs DF, Selig MF (2006) Influence of seasonal planting date on field performance of six temperate deciduous forest tree species. For Ecol Manag 223:371–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Snedden J, Landhäusser SM, Lieffers VJ, Charleson L (2010) Propagating trembling aspen from root cuttings: impact of storage length and phenological period of root donor plants. New For 39:169–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sutton RF (1979) Planting stock quality and grading. For Ecol Manag 2:123–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Taylor JS, Dumbroff EB (1975) Bud, root, and growth regulator activity in Acer saccharum during dormant season. Can J Bot 53:321–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Thompson BE (1985) Chapter 6: Seedling morphological evaluation—what you can tell by looking. In: Durvea ML (ed) Proceedings, evaluating seedling quality: principles, procedures, and predictive abilities of major tests. Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis, pp 59–71Google Scholar
  50. Thompson JR, Schultz RC (1995) Root system morphology of Quercus rubra L. planting stock and 3-year field performance in Iowa. New For 9:225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Timmis R, Worrall J (1974) Translocation of dehardening and bud-break promoters in climatically split Douglas-fir. Can J For Res 4:229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Truax B, Gagnon D (1992) Effects of straw and black plastic mulching on the initial growth and nutrition of butternut, white ash and bur oak. For Ecol Manag 57:17–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van den Driessche R, Rude W, Martens L (2003) Effect of fertilization and irrigation on growth of aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) seedlings over three seasons. For Ecol Manag 186:381–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wan X, Landhäusser SM, Zwiazek JJ, Lieffers VJ (2006) Signals controlling root suckering and adventitious shoot formation in aspen (Populus tremuloides). Tree Physiol 26:681–687PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wilson BC, Jacobs DF (2006) Quality assessment of temperate zone deciduous hardwood seedlings. New For 31:417–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon M. Landhäusser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Javier Rodriguez-Alvarez
    • 1
  • Eckehart H. Marenholtz
    • 1
  • Victor J. Lieffers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Renewable Resources, School of Forest Science and ManagementUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations