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, 6 (4), 351-69

Comparison of Three Cold Hardiness Tests for Conifer Seedlings

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Comparison of Three Cold Hardiness Tests for Conifer Seedlings

K E Burr et al. Tree Physiol.

Abstract

Greenhouse-cultured, container-grown ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum Engelm.), interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca (Beissn.) Franco), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii (Parry) Engelm.) were cold acclimated and deacclimated in growth chambers over 19 weeks. Cold hardiness was measured weekly by a whole-plant freeze test and by two quick tissue tests: freeze-induced electrolyte leakage of needles, and differential thermal analysis of buds. The whole-plant freeze test provided results in 7 days, and indicated differences in cold hardiness among stems, buds, and needles. Although the whole-plant freeze test could accurately measure cold hardiness, it was not precise, and it required destructive sampling. Results from freeze-induced electrolyte leakage and differential thermal analysis were available in 2 days and 1 hour, respectively. The freeze-induced electrolyte leakage test was a precise, sensitive and objective predictor of changes or differences in tissue cold hardiness. To determine actual cold hardiness, results could be calibrated to the response of the same tissue in the whole-plant freeze test. The speed and objectivity of differential thermal analysis made this test useful for rapid, general assessment of cold hardiness status, but calibration was difficult, and precision varied.

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