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How Can We Improve Southern Hardwoods Through Genetics?

Before discussing the genetic potential of hardwoods we must define the objectives in hardwood tree improvement. We can safely generalize and say that any tree-improvement program is going to have as its major goal the increase in genetic potential for rapid growth and superior tree quality. Rapid growth is an easily understood characteristic, but tree quality is a more complicated concept. The quality of a hardwood log is determined by its size and shape, and particularly by degree to which it is free from defects like knots, holes, bark pockets, stain, and rot (Lockard, Putnam, and Carpenter 1950). In general, freedom from defects is more important than species in determining the value of an individual tree. Increasing the proportion of high-grade material within the tree therefore will be an important facet of tree improvement, and will require evaluation for tree form, branching characteristics, and resistance to insects and diseases.

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Author(s): James R. Wilcox

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 1963