East Texas contains the western extent of the natural range of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) and, therefore, many planted seedlings there experience water deficit sometimes leading to plantation failure. One solution may be to regenerate with clonally propagated drought-hardy planting stock. The objective of this research was to compare the field performance of loblolly pine seedlings and plantlets of diverse genetic origin, produced via micropropagation technology. Two adjacent sites were established (Site I in 1993 and Site II in 1994) with trees produced from four genetic families: Liberty (LIB) and Montgomery (MON) Counties from southeast Texas, and Fayette (FAY) and Bastrop (BAS) Counties from the "Lost Pines" in Central Texas. Height, groundline diameter (GLD), leaf area, survival, root/shoot ratio, and root system architecture were measured throughout the 1994 and 1995 growing seasons. In addition, height and diameter at breast height on Site II were measured at the end of 1999 and 2000 growing seasons. Height and GLD growth for seedlings was significantly greater than for plantlets on both sites. However, mean relative growth rates for height were greater for plantlets during the first growing season, but comparable thereafter. Survival for all treatments was >85% on Site I and >90% on Site II at the end of the 1995 growing season. Survival was significantly different, but by a negligible margin, between families and stock types on Site II at the end of the 1995 growing season, and by a margin of 7% (89% for seedlings vs. 82% for plantlets) at the end of the 2000 growing season. Seedlings had greater leaf area growth than plantlets after two growing seasons. Root/shoot ratio was significantly greater for plantlets after two growing seasons, whereas their specific root length was significantly smaller than that of seedlings. This was attributed to root system architecture. Whereas plantlets produced thicker roots with less length per unit dry weight, seedlings produced more branching with thinner roots for similar dry weights.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law