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Does past emergence of epicormic shoots control current composition of epicormic types?


• Context

While past studies on epicormics in oak (Quercus sp.) have focused on the effect of thinning on epicormic shoots emergence, the consequences of this emergence on the epicormic ontogeny and future wood quality have rarely been asked.

• Aims

This paper aims to quantifying the relationship between past emergence and current composition of epicormics.

• Methods

Three thinning experiments with Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. or Quercus robur L. were investigated. Epicormic shoots were regularly tallied and epicormic composition recorded recently. Some logs were scanned using X-ray computed tomography (CT).

• Results

Past tallies on both species were mainly and positively related to the current frequency of bud clusters and burls. This was due to the production of buds by epicormic shoots for only certain trees, as evidenced by CT, and mainly to correlated numbers of current epicormic shoots, bud clusters and burls, all originating from a past common set of buds and bud clusters.

• Conclusion

The important tree effect on both species suggests that oak silviculture can be optimized by the early selection of crop trees with few epicormics and/or eventually a first and heavy thinning that helps in spotting remaining individuals being prone to the development of multiple epicormics.

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We wish to give our warm thanks to Frédérique Vautier who was responsible for the management of the LO experiment; Yves Bresson and François Conrard who managed and measured the three ONF experiments regularly; and Jean-Louis Druelle, professor at Reims University, who helped to describe the epicormic composition in 2007 and 2008.


The French National Forest Service (ONF) supported this study financially through the ModelFor contract together with INRA who provided JB Morisset’s Ph.D. grant.

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Correspondence to Francis Colin.

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Handling Editor: Barry Alan Gardiner

Contribution of the co-authors

Francis Colin, Didier François: field measurements. Jean-Baptiste Morisset, Frédéric Mothe: interpretation of scan images. Jean-Baptiste Morisset, Francis Colin: running the data analysis. Jean-Baptiste Morisset, Francis Colin, Frédéric Mothe: writing the paper. Francis Colin, Bruno Chopard: supervision of the work and coordinating the project.

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Morisset, JB., Mothe, F., Chopard, B. et al. Does past emergence of epicormic shoots control current composition of epicormic types?. Annals of Forest Science 69, 139–152 (2012).

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  • Sprouts
  • Quercus petraea
  • Quercus robur
  • Secondary buds
  • Bud clusters