Indexed on: 07 Sep '11Published on: 07 Sep '11Published in: Trees
We studied the intra-annual wood formation in a Norway spruce provenance experiment in southern Finland from 2004–2008. Two Finnish provenances, northern and southern, as well as German and Hungarian provenances were included. Timing of tracheid formation and differentiation, and tracheid dimensions were determined from periodically extracted microcores. The aim was to determine the differences between the years and provenances in the timing of the xylogenesis and in the xylem characteristics. Year-to-year variation was high both in timing of tracheid formation and xylem characteristics, while between-provenance differences were small. The onset of tracheid formation varied from early May to late June in different trees in different years. The onset of tracheid formation was not closely related to the annual variations of temperature sum. In all the years, daily temperatures exceeded the threshold +5°C for several weeks before the onset of tracheid formation. The highest tracheid formation rate occurred after the summer solstice in all years and generally coincided with the highest daily temperatures during the growing season. Tracheid production ceased early in 2006 due to a mid-summer drought. Cell differentiation continued late in autumn as non-mature tracheids were still observed around mid-September. No clear differences between the provenances in the timing of tracheid formation were observed, although the Finnish provenances tended to initiate tracheid formation slightly earlier than the other provenances. The tree-ring widths of the Finnish provenances were also wider, while tracheid diameter of the German provenance was slightly smaller. Our results indicate that between-tree variation in the timing of wood formation is high compared with the latitude effect of seed source.