A study of intra-ring checking and xylogenesis in Pinus radiata D.Don
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Pinus radiata is the dominant species of the plantations forests in New Zealand. The forest industry in New Zealand is heavily dependant on it. However, Pinus radiata can develop wood quality flaw called 'intra-ring checking'. The checks or splits appear in wood during kiln drying and usually affect the earlywood region of the wood. It lowers value of appearance grade timber leading to huge economic loses for the forest industry. This thesis presents a study that was undertaken as a part of ongoing collaborative work that is being carried out to understand wood quality issues in Pinus radiata, with a vision of improving its wood quality. This study was a part of that effort and was conducted with an aim to gain an insight into intra-ring checking, and the process of xylogenesis in Pinus radiata. The investigations for this study were carried out in two steps. The first step was to understand intra-ring checking. The location of intra-ring checking was determined by observing the checks using various microscopy techniques. Scanning electron microscopy confirmed that checking was as an intercell failure that usually occurs at the cm1/S1 boundary. A comparative study was also conducted to see if the checked wood had some inherent properties that made it more susceptible to checking. It was found that checking could be influenced by tracheid geometry and cell wall thickness. If the wood had large tracheids with thin walls, it was more likely to develop checks during drying. Lignin distribution in the cell wall layers was also seen to play an important role in checking. Lower lignin levels and disruption in the pattern of lignification of the cell wall layers increased the tendency of the wood to develop checks. Similarly, it the tracheids have larger pits then their tendency to check increases. Structural features that disrupt the uniformity of the interlocking pattern of the tracheid such as rays and resin canals could also play a role in checking. Checked wood tends to have more surface area occupied by ray tissue. However, resin canals do not seem to be directly involved in checking, though their arrangement could indicate disturbances during xylogenesis. The second step was to understand the process of xylogenesis in Pinus radiata especially with respect to the influence of auxin and boron on it. Nutrient and organ culture methods were manipulated and successfully used to study xylogenesis. An exhaustive comparative study was carried out to observe and measure selected wood properties. Microscopy and image analysis revealed that auxin and boron changes in the medium led to the alterations in the cell division, expansion and lignification. However, the analysis of the measurements and the observations displayed complex 'between-tree' and 'within-culture variations'. Clear trends did not emerge from the analysis hence, a confident conclusion on the association between auxin, boron and lignification could not be drawn from this organ culture study. The study has added to the knowledge about checking and wood properties associated with it. A new tool of organ culture had been established that can hlep future research on the process of xylogenesis in Pinus radiata.