Genetic variation in traits affecting sawn timber recovery in plantation-grown Eucalyptus nitens
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There is increasing interest in managing Eucalyptus nitens plantations for sawn timber production.
This study aimed to determine the potential for genetic improvement of traits affecting green sawn board recovery in plantation-grown E. nitens.
The study was undertaken on an E. nitens progeny trial. All trees were measured for diameter at breast height (DBH) and stem straightness, and 560 trees were selected for timber processing. Assessment was made of survival, log and green sawn board volume, log taper, and both upper and lower log end splitting. Genetic variation in and between these traits was estimated.
Genetic differences among races were significant for DBH at years 9 and 14, stem straightness, log taper and green sawn board volume. Within-race, narrow-sense heritabilities were significant for DBH, stem straightness, log volume, and both upper and lower log end splitting. Positive and significant additive genetic correlations were observed between DBH at all ages and survival, stem straightness and log volume. Significant adverse genetic correlations were shown between upper log end splitting and DBH at years 9 and 14.
These findings showed that harvest-age stem straightness and log volume objective traits in E. nitens are amenable to genetic improvement and that selection for early-age DBH in breeding programmes should improve harvest-age survival, stem diameter and straightness, as well as log and green sawn board volume. However, these improvements are likely to be countered to some extent by increased end splitting of logs from larger trees.
KeywordsSawn-board Recovery Heritability End splitting Stem straightness
The study was supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry. We acknowledge the work of Dr Peter Volker in planning and establishing the progeny trial, which is part of a series of trials which underpins Forestry Tasmania’s E. nitens tree breeding programme. We thank Dr. Greg Dutkowski for helpful advice on quantitative genetic analysis.
We acknowledge substantial assistance from Forestry Tasmania, which provided trees from their progeny trial and personnel for straightness assessment, Forest Enterprises Australia Ltd. for processing the logs, and the Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry for David Paul Blackburn’s PhD scholarship funding.
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