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Urea treatment reduced Heterobasidion annosum s.l. root rot in Picea abies after 15 years
- Oliva, J., Samils, N., Johansson, U., Bendz-Hellgren, M., Stenlid, J.
- Forest ecology and management 2008 v.255 no.7 pp. 2876-2882
- urea, Heterobasidion annosum, plant rots, Picea abies, stumps, coniferous forests, forest trees, tree growth, decay fungi, chemical control, wind, windthrow, Sweden
- Stump protection using chemical or biological agents is the main control measure against root and butt rot caused by Heterobasidion annosum s.l. in northern and temperate conifer forests. Long-term effects of urea treatment of stumps are poorly known and here we describe a 15-year study of urea treatment on the rot incidence on Norway spruce (Picea abies). We also tested the effect of urea protection on tree growth and on the resistance of stands against strong winds. Four treatments were made in two replications in two first-rotation P. abies stands in southern Sweden; after first-thinning stumps were (i) treated with urea 35% (w/v), (ii) artificially infected with H. annosum conidia, (iii) half urea treated and half artificially conidia infected, (iv) untreated, therefore naturally infected. After 15 years, the trees were sampled at 20cm above ground using an increment borer and observed for presence of rot and, following incubation, presence of H. annosum conidia. Tree growth was calculated by measuring the diameter before and after the treatment. Urea treated plots showed the lowest incidence of rot (3%) as well as of H. annosum incidence (0%). Conidia treatment showed the highest incidence of rot (68%), its incidence was higher than that observed in natural infection treatment (43%), but did not differ from that of the 50% conidia treatment (47%). On about 30% of the rotted trees we observed conspicuous H. annosum fruiting. We did not observe growth reduction associated with tree rot. H. annosum was the only fungus observed associated with rotted trees which suggest that it was responsible for most of the rot observed in the investigated plots. Urea treated plots showed the lowest incidence of windthrown trees, and 59% of the windthrown tree incidence among the plots was explained by the incidence of H. annosum. Urea can be regarded as a reliable long-term protection method against root and butt rot of Norway spruce.