Seedling Quality Standards for Bottomland Hardwood Afforestation in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley: Preliminary ResultsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Afforestation of bottomland hardwood species has increased in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley (LMRAV) in recent years. Rising demand for hardwood nursery stock and poor performance of some planted seedlings has created concern regarding the quality of seedlings currently available for afforestation in the LMRAV. Furthermore, no definitive guidelines for optimal seedling morphological quality of bottomland hardwoods in the LMRAV have been developed. We measured initial morphology of green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.) and water oak (Quercus nigra L.) seedlings from 3 nurseries and examined field response after planting with or without chemical weed control on a LMRAV site in Mississippi. Seedlings from different nurseries varied significantly in initial morphology and field performance during the first growing season. Weed control had a relatively minor influence on seedling survival, but growth was significantly increased when weed control was applied. Seedlings exhibited considerable transplant shock during the first growing season, and this stress was most pronounced in seedlings with larger shoot heights, implying possible shoot-to-root imbalance. Though we currently present only preliminary results from a portion of data collected, our results suggest that morphological quality of hardwood seedlings available for afforestation in the LMRAV varies considerably depending on nursery source, and this variation leads to differences in plantation performance.
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