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Tree Physiol. 2006 Sep;26(9):1227-37.

Spacing of silver birch seedlings grown in containers of equal size affects their morphology and its variability.

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Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, PO Box 111, 00101 Joensuu, Finland.


Silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) seedlings were grown individually in containers arranged in rows radiating from a central point (Nelder plot) at densities spanning the range from 207 to 891 plants m(-2). Height of one set of seedlings was measured at weekly intervals and additional seedlings were harvested each week for dry mass and leaf area measurements. Height and shoot:root dry mass ratio increased with plant density. Seedling-to-seedling variability in dry mass, but not height, increased with increasing plant density. The red to far-red (R:FR) photon ratio in horizontally propagated radiation decreased with increasing density, even when plant densities and leaf area index values were low. In a separate experiment, elongating internodes of seedlings were irradiated locally by red and far-red light emitting diodes and stem elongation measured. Far-red light markedly increased stem elongation, suggesting that changes in light quality sensed by growing internodes are involved in the observed responses to growth density.

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