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    Description

    Larch tree species (Larix Mill.) are both ecologically and commercially valuable in their native range and are the focus of many restoration, afforestation, and commercial reforestation efforts in the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere. Land use change, shifting climate, and poor natural regeneration are making it increasingly difficult to establish the species; therefore, artificial regeneration is critical to ensure this timber species maintains its productive role on the landscape. New stocktypes are continually being developed to aid target seedlings for difficult sites, and critical, non-confounding evaluations of them are needed for target seedling development. This research evaluates the effect of container parameters on potential target seedlings. It examines tolerance thresholds of western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) with respect to moisture and temperature status in the rhizosphere during early establishment. A suite of morphological measurements was used to assess seedling quality and relative performance following transplant. Modifying a commercially available container developed four distinct stocktypes of 111, 143, 175 and 207 ml that were paired with a volume-dependent nutrient regime at two culturing densities. Seedling phenotype was affected to a greater extent by container density than by container volume. Despite changes to container volume, root:- shoot were found to be similar, indicating benefits of a tailored nutrient regime during nursery culture. Simulated field trials revealed that a low density growing arrangement improved post-transplant seedling growth, specifically root growth. Also, the 207 ml container facilitated greater growth in dry soil conditions compared to smaller containers. Lower (10 °C) rhizosphere temperature hindered root growth; however, seedling survival was 100 %, warranting the testing of earlier outplanting windows for this species. This evaluation of stocktype performance contributes to a greater body of work with this species and its congeners, which will ultimately benefit reforestation and afforestation efforts alike.

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    Citation

    Aghai, Matthew M.; Pinto, Jeremiah R.; Davis, Anthony S. 2014. Container volume and growing density influence western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) seedling development during nursery culture and establishment. New Forests. 45: 199-213.

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    Keywords

    regeneration, container seedling, seedling quality, stocktype, simulated field performance

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