Improving needle retention selection methods and determining the influence of rootstock on balsam fir (Abies balsamea) bud flush and development for use in Christmas tree improvement programs

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University of New Brunswick


The warming climate has created multiple issues that the Northeastern Christmas tree industry will need to address. This study focused on identifying trees with early cold acclimation in the fall because of its positive correlation with improved post-harvest needle retention and testing for the influence of the rootstock on bud flush timing in balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Sixty-four trees, from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, were tested and seven superior individuals were identified using a quantitative measure of moisture loss. Growth and development of 191 grafted early and late flushing clones from twelve parents were monitored weekly and timing of bud flush was determined to be under strong genetic control. The improved methods to identify trees with increased post-harvest needle retention and the evidence that bud flush timing is under strong genetic control will benefit tree improvement programs that are focused on providing growers with climate change adapted stock.