Improving the production of local origin Aspen in Scotland

Carried out by: Coille Alba

Summary Description:

Most nursery production of Scottish Aspen relies on vegetative propagation using roots collected in the wild. However this method is very labour-intensive, and productivity varies greatly between clones. This is generally thought to be determined genetically, but there is evidence that environmental factors may also play a role. In particular, it has been noted that root suckers may be much more prolific where the ground has been disturbed, such as in areas trampled by cattle. This effect may be caused by exposure of roots to higher light levels, to higher temperatures or to physical trauma, or a combination of these. It is proposed to experimentally manipulate the roots' in situ environment, and to assess the impact of this ‘conditioning’ on subsequent sucker production in the nursery.

If root conditioning is shown to significantly increase sucker production, this finding will have an important practical application. It will make vegetative propagation more cost-effective. It will be particularly useful for otherwise low-yielding clones, and thereby make it easier to include a more diverse mix of clones in planting schemes, in accordance with best practice, and as required by the FRM regulations.

Timescale: 2012-2015

SFT Funds Awarded: £3,894

Project Outcomes:

The objectives of this trial are:
· to assess the effect of root-conditioning treatments on sucker production in the nursery;
· to determine the benefits of root-conditioning on plant production in the nursery; and
· to determine whether the effects of root-conditioning persist for more than one season.

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