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Growth, Biomass Production and Root Development of Chinese fir in Relation to Initial Planting Density

1
Forestry College, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
2
Fujian Provincial Colleges and University Engineering Research Center of Plantation Sustainable Management, Fuzhou 350002, China
3
Southern Swedish Forest Research Center, Faculty of Forest Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 49, SE-230 53 Alnarp, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Forests 2019, 10(3), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10030236
Received: 3 January 2019 / Revised: 19 February 2019 / Accepted: 28 February 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Stand Management and Biomass Growth)
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Abstract

Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb) Hook) is a commercially valuable timber species that is widely planted in southern China and accounts for 6.1% of the global plantation forests. However, appropriate planting density that ensures high plantation productivity is largely unexplored in this species. The aim of the study was to examine tree growth, biomass production, and its allocation among different organs in relation to initial planting density, and to examine whether planting density has an impact on root development. Mortality, diameter at breast height and tree-height of all trees were determined and measured in wider (2.36 × 2.36 m), intermediate (1.83 × 1.83 m) and narrow (1.44 × 1.44 m) spacing with stand density of 1450 trees ha−1, 2460 trees ha−1 and 3950 trees ha−1, respectively. In each stand, three plots of 20 × 20 m at a distance of 500 m were delineated as the sampling unit. Biomass was determined by destructive sampling of trees in each stand and developing allometric equations. Root morphological traits and their spatial distribution were also determined by carefully excavating the root systems. The results showed an increase in diameter of trees with decreasing stand density while tree height was independent of stand density. Biomass production of individual trees was significantly (p < 0.05) less in high-density stand (32.35 ± 2.98 kg tree−1) compared to low-density stand (44.72 ± 4.96 kg tree−1) and intermediate-density stand (61.35 ± 4.78 kg tree−1) while stand biomass production differed significantly in the order of intermediate (67.63 ± 5.14 t ha−1) > high (57.08 ± 3.13 t ha−1) > low (27.39 ± 3.42 t ha−1) stand density. Both average root length and root volume were significantly (p < 0.05) lower in the high-density stand than stands with low and intermediate density. Analysis of spatial distribution of root systems revealed no overlap between roots of neighboring trees in the competition zone in low-density stand, a subtle overlap in the intermediate density stand and larger overlap in the high-density stand. It can be concluded that better growth and biomass production in intermediate density stand could be explained by better root structural development coupled with minimal competition with understory vegetation and between trees; thus intermediate stand density can be optimal for sustaining long-term productivity and may reduce the management cost in the early phase of the plantation. View Full-Text
Keywords: allometry; Cunninghamia lanceolata; planting spacing; root morphological traits; tree competition allometry; Cunninghamia lanceolata; planting spacing; root morphological traits; tree competition
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Farooq, T.H.; Wu, W.; Tigabu, M.; Ma, X.; He, Z.; Rashid, M.H.U.; Gilani, M.M.; Wu, P. Growth, Biomass Production and Root Development of Chinese fir in Relation to Initial Planting Density. Forests 2019, 10, 236.

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