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Impact of planting container type on growth and survival of three hybrid poplar clones in central Alberta, Canada

Abstract

We compared growth performance and survival of three hybrid poplar clones (Walker, Northwest and Okanese) planted as cuttings into five different Styroblock® containers (412A, 415D, 512A, 515A, 615A) with increasing cavity volume and decreasing cavity density under commercial growing conditions at two nurseries in central Alberta, Canada. After 175 days of growth, our results showed considerable variation in growth traits among container types while survival was generally high with an overall average of 89 %. Initial cutting diameter appeared to be an important predictor of survival and our results showed that a cutting diameter of ≥7.5 mm increased survival rates of the tested hybrid poplar planting stock. Furthermore, containers with larger cavity volume and lower cavity density had a strong positive influence on growth and survival across nurseries (R 2 = 0.96). Growth trait interactions with container type showed that container 512A (cavity volume: 220 ml; cavity depth: 12 cm) resulted in more diameter growth across clones. Cavities with a depth of 15 cm (415D, 515A, 615A) resulted in higher root:shoot ratios than cavities with a depth of only 12 cm (412A, 512A), irrespective of cavity volume or cavity density. Lastly, our study identified Okanese as a well-rounded clone with great growth potential both above and below ground. From an operational standpoint, we found container types 512A and 515A the most cost-effective choices under the assumption that nursery space and budgets are limiting factors.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., (Al-Pac) for financial support of this work and Joanna Ramsum from Al-Pac and Dan McCurdy and Larry Lafleur from Coast to Coast Reforestation for their time and effort on this trial. We would also like to acknowledge all the summer students employed by Al-Pac who assisted with harvesting and washing of all plant materials, as well as two anonymous reviewers who provided helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Barb R. Thomas.

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Barb R. Thomas and Stefan G. Schreiber have contributed equally to the study.

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Thomas, B.R., Schreiber, S.G. & Kamelchuk, D.P. Impact of planting container type on growth and survival of three hybrid poplar clones in central Alberta, Canada. New Forests 47, 815–827 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-016-9546-4

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Keywords

  • Boreal forest
  • Cavity density
  • Cavity volume
  • Nursery production
  • Okanese
  • Styroblock