Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071313

    Analysis of insect, disease, and abiotic factors affecting post-free-growing lodgepole pine in southern interior British Columbia
Project lead: Simard, Suzanne
Contributing Authors: Simard, Suzanne W.; Heineman, Jean L.
Imprint: [BC] :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Pinus Contorta, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Lodgepole pine has been extensively planted across the southern interior of British Columbia during the past four decades (e.g., BC Min. For. 2003) for a variety of good reasons: (a) it exhibits good initial survival, rapid early growth, and timely achievement of free-growing standards; (b) it has a wide ecological amplitude, with good long-term productivity predicted over a broad range of soil moisture and nutrient conditions (Klinka et al. 2000); (c) it is highly resistant to drought, frost, and low soil nutrient availability (Burns and Honkala 1990), which are common limitations on southern interior sites; and (d) it is easily and cost-effectively produced in British Columbia nurseries. Despite the good early performance of lodgepole pine, there is increasing evidence that, on many sites, the species is not continuing to perform well as it ages beyond free-growing. A range of problems has been reported from various studies, as well as from personal observations of researchers and practitioners. These include: (a) mortality from Warren’s root collar weevil, which may be linked to poor root form of planted lodgepole pine (Roberts 2004), (b) susceptibility to Armillaria root disease, especially on sites that were manually brushed to relieve broadleaf competition (Simard et al. 2005), (c) serious damage by Atropellis canker (unpublished observations from linked project Y062024), (d) extensive mortality from drought following extended dry summer weather such as occurred in 1998 and 2002 (Joy and Maclauchlan 1999), (e) crown deformations in heavy snowpack areas and (f) increased incidence of hard pine rusts, including western gall rust and comandra blister rust (Woods and Bergerud 2006). In addition to these easily identifiable health problems, foresters have expressed concern that pine on some sites may have been planted out of the range of the seed source, and as a result, is underperforming post-free-growing. Additionally, the concerns about pine health problems are amplified by the possibility of their interaction with long-term climate change. For example, a recent study conducted in northwestern B.C. identified a strong correlation between the geographic amplitudes of a Dothistroma needle blight epidemic and the area affected by an increase in summer precipitation that was outside the range of natural fluctuations in local climate (Woods et al. 2005). Our project has the potential to allow similar correlations to be identified for the southern interior. Although good records exist for free-growing plantations, less information is recorded beyond that age. The SIFR has conducted some specific surveys as problems have arisen (L. Maclauchlan, pers. comm. 2004), but no systematic survey or analysis of post-free-growing lodgepole pine condition has been conducted for the Region as a whole. This study fits nicely with the current work being done by a team lead by Alex Woods, Regional Pathologist, NIFR, who are examining whether free-growing stands are meeting timber productivity expectations in a study funded through the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) Effectiveness Evaluation Program. The Woods team has completed an analysis for the Lakes TSA (NIFR) and are currently sampling 80 stands in the Okanagan TSA. A majority of the stands sampled are lodgepole pine dominated. While their main objective is related to growth and yield, they are also completing insect and disease surveys in all plots. They have noted an increase in hard pine rusts in their Lakes TSA stands with over 27% of declared free-growing stands showing at least a 20% hard pine rust incidence. They are using a random sampling approach to select stands since their goal is an unbiased, overall survey of growth performance, not a prediction of where insect and disease problems occur. Our study differs in that the main objective is to identify insect and disease problems in post free-growing stands and predict where they will occur. This would be complementary to the growth and yield study undertaken by the Woods team. The sampling methodology in each stand used by the Woods team is appropriate (15 – 3.99m radius plots) and we plan on coordinating our studies and sharing data.
Related projects:  FSP_Y082313FSP_Y093313


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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