Post-fertilization physiology and growth performance of loblolly pine clones
The physiological processes leading to enhanced growth of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) following fertilization are not clearly understood. Part of the debate revolves around the temporal response of net photosynthetic rate (An) to fertilization and whether the An response is always positive. We measured light-saturated photosynthetic rate (Asat), dark respiration rate, growth and crown silhouette area in eight clones of loblolly pine before and after nitrogen (N) fertilization (112 kg ha–1) to track the initial physiological changes prior to any changes in growth. Overall, there were positive photosynthetic and growth responses to fertilization; however, there were pronounced physiological and growth differences among clones, even among clones with the same parents. Clones 4, 6 and 7 showed large volume growth and Asat responses to fertilization. Clone 1 and Clone 8 (a full-sibling of Clone 7) mainly showed a volume growth response, whereas Clone 2 (full-sibling of Clone 1) showed an Asat response only. Clone 5 (full-sibling of Clone 6) showed little response to fertilization, whereas Clone 3 (full-sibling of Clone 4) showed a negative Asat response. Thus, within-family variationwarrants further study to ensure that relatively expensive clonal material is used efficiently.