Investigation of growth potential of alternative eucalyptus species for mid and high altitude sites in the summer rainfall region in South Africa.
Otim, Christopher Komakech.
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A study was undertaken to compare growth potential of three Eucalyptus species of natural origin in South Eastern Australia, with commercially grown species on mid and high altitude temperate sites in the summer rainfall growing zones in South Africa. The three species were Eucalyptus globulus subsp. bicostata (E. bicostata), Eucalyptus cypellocarpa and Eucalyptus nobilis. Nine sites were selected to represent the growing areas of South Africa experiencing cold winter drought with occasional snow falls. Improved, commercially grown pure Eucalyptus species and interspecific hybrid clones were included as controls in the trials to give comparative growth performances on specific sites. Both balanced and unbalanced lattice designs were used to evaluate the growth potential of the unimproved Australian species and the improved commercial controls incorporated into the trials. Volume production and basal area growth were assessed for the three species at all sites. However, only three sub species E.globulus (E. bicostata, E. maidenii and E. globulus) showed varying levels of disease (Mychosphaerella nobilosa) infestation and this was therefore assessed in trials at 12 and 30 months respectively, and correlation analysis was used to study the relationship between the impact of disease infestation and growth performance. It was found that negative phenotypic correlations existed between the levels of infection and tree growth. ie greater infection slower growth. Evaluation of genotype x environment interaction (GXE) revealed that this did not exist in the E. bicostata nor E. nobilis populations, and therefore one population of each species can be developed for all the sites tested. E. cypellocarpa was the only species that showed some GXE interaction implying that separate populations to be developed for different sites. Contrary to what was expected, unimproved Eucalyptus species being investigated performed equally as well as the improved commercial species included as controls, thus providing potential for commercial deployment with selection and breeding.
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