Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda
L.) is one of the most important commercial timber species in the world. While the species is native to the southeastern United States of America (USA), it has been widely planted in southern Brazil, where it is the most commonly planted exotic species. Interest exists in utilizing nondestructive testing methods for wood property assessment to aid in improving the wood quality of Brazilian grown loblolly pine. We used near-infrared hyperspectral imaging (NIR-HSI) on increment cores to provide data representative of the radial variation of families sampled from a 10-year-old progeny test located in Rio Negrinho municipality, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Hyperspectral images were averaged to provide an individual NIR spectrum per tree for cluster analysis (hierarchical complete linkage with square Euclidean distance) to identify trees with similar wood properties. Four clusters (0, 1, 2, 3) were identified, and based on SilviScan data for air-dry density, microfibril angle (MFA), and stiffness, clusters differed in average wood properties. Average ring data demonstrated that trees in Cluster 0 had the highest average ring densities, and those in Cluster 3 the lowest. Cluster 3 trees also had the lowest ring MFAs. NIR-HSI provides a rapid approach for collecting wood property data and, when coupled with cluster analysis, potentially, allows screening for desirable wood properties amongst families in tree improvement programs.
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