Age and weather effects on between and within ring variations of number, width and coarseness of tracheids and radial growth of young Norway spruce
Lundqvist SO, Seifert S, Grahn T, Olsson L, Garcia-Gil MR, Karlsson B, Seifert T

Annual growth, fibre and wood properties of Norway spruce are all under strong influence from genetics, age and weather. They change dynamically, particularly at young ages. Most genetic research and tree improvement programs are based on data from this most dynamic phase of the life of trees, affected by differences in weather among sites and years. In the work presented, influences of age and weather were investigated and modelled at the detail of annual rings and at the sub-tree ring level of earlywood, transitionwood and latewood. The data used were analysed from increment cores sampled at age 21years from almost 6000 Norway spruce trees of known genetic origin, grown on two sites in southern Sweden. The traits under investigation were radial growth, cell widths, cell numbers, cell wall thickness and coarseness as a measure of biomass allocation at cell level. General additive mixed models (GAMMs) were fitted to model the influences of age, local temperature and precipitation. The best models were obtained for number of tracheids formed per year, ring width, average radial tracheid width in earlywood, and ring averages for tangential tracheid width and coarseness. Considering the many sources behind the huge variation, the explained part of the variability was high. For all traits, models were developed using both total tree age and cambial age (ring number) to express age. Comparisons indicate that the number of cell divisions and ring width are under stronger control of tree age, but the other traits under stronger control of cambial age. The models provide a basis to refine data prior to genetic evaluations by compensating for estimated differences between sites and years related to age and weather rather than genetics. Other expected applications are to predict performance of genotypes in relation to site or climate and simulation of climate change scenarios.

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