Maximum growth potential in loblolly pine: results from a 47-year-old spacing study in Hawaii
Growth, allocation to woody root biomass, wood properties, leaf physiology, and shoot morphology were examined in a 47-year-old loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) density trial located in Maui, Hawaii, to determine if stands continued to carry the high density, basal area, and volume reported at younger ages and to identify potential factors controlling expression of maximum growth potential. Basal area and volume were similar among spacings (square: 1.8, 2.4, 3.0, and 3.7 m) and averaged 93 m2·ha-1 and 1076 m3·ha-1, respectively, and were double the maxima reported for loblolly pine in its native range. Spacing had a significant influence on density, quadratic mean diameter, and height. Ring-specific gravity and percent late wood were similar among spacing treatments but values were high compared to mainland stands. Leaf light-saturated net photosynthesis, dark respiration, stomatal conductance, and quantum yield were comparable with values reported for loblolly pine in its native range. Foliar calcium concentrations, specific leaf area, and flush number were high in the Hawaii study. Higher carrying capacity in Hawaii may be related to a more favorable climate conducive to year-round leaf carbon gain, high nutrient availability, increased flushing, and less allocation to belowground mass.