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Significance of first order lateral roots on the growth of young radiata pine pinus radiata under environmental stress



Significance of first order lateral roots on the growth of young radiata pine pinus radiata under environmental stress



Australian Forest Research 14(3): 187-200



The importance of 1st-order lateral roots to the ability of radiata pine (P. radiata D. Don) seedlings to recover from planting shock and to withstand competition from weeds was investigated by studying the effects of lateral roots on new root growth, needle water potential, nutrient uptake, and growth in both a controlled environment and in the field. Under controlled environmental conditions, although the loss of some 1st-order laterals caused increases in water stress, transplanted seedlings showed a remarkable ability to re-establish their root systems by increasing the relative growth rate and mean extension rate of lateral roots. In the field, even under relatively mild planting conditions in winter, transplanting led to severe water stress. The loss of some 1st-order lateral roots at planting not only delayed the recovery from planting shock by months, but also caused a persistently higher water stress than in controls, throughout the 1st growing season. The adverse effects of weeds on water stress, nutrient uptake, survival and growth of pines were aggravated by the loss of lateral roots. Similarly, the beneficial effects of good weed control and maximum retention of lateral roots on growth were additive. Even small variations in the size and vigor of roots on the planting stock can have a large influence on growth during the establishment phase. The results emphasize the interplay between manipulation of plant and soil variables on the physiology and growth of pines.

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