Norway Spruce

(Source : Daoust, G. 1999)

Norway Spruce was introduced to the North American continent long ago. In Quebec, the first tree plantations were established at the beginning of the 20th century, about 1915. From 1964 to 1999, nearly 200 million plants were put into the ground. An average planting, as in the year 1997, was 1.8 million trees. This is a popular species due to its good growth in plantations which has generally surpassed the performance of indigenous spruce species. According to Bolghari and Bertrand's production tables, after a 35 year growth cycle and on the best Quebec meridional sites, this species could produce 325m³\ha given an average annual growth of nearly 10 m³\ha\year.

Researchers have been working on the genetic improvement of this species in Quebec, with the first tests of provenance planned and established by the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) at the end of the 1950's in collaboration with the government of Quebec and forest companies. In 1969, another series of tests of provenance, regrouping 44 provenances from central Europe, was established by the CFS and the DFR. Since that time, the two organizations have continued to collaborate on numerous experiments testing new foreign sources or new pedo-climatic conditions.

In 1984, the DFR and the CFS decided to divide the research so that DFR is now responsible for studies regarding species improvement and the CFS is responsible for genetic studies. Also since that time, the DFR and the CFS have worked in close collaboration to achieve common research objectives. The tests of provenance have enabled the identification of the best sources for reforestation and the selection of tree-plus for cloned seeds for orchards. In recent years, these test have enabled the establishment of three zones of improvement for Quebec; for each of these zones, tests of descendances have been carried out. The objectives of these tests are to confirm the propsed zones and select the best individuals from the best descendances, and as a result, provide an improved population adapted to each zone. To date, there have been more than 250 descendents within the material tested.

Studies involving the selection of trees resistant to white pine charançon have been carried out in the last few years under the direction of Dr. Robert Lavallée, an entomologist with CFS-Quebec. Through his work, trees demonstrating a strong level of resistance to insects have been identified within the improved population. The descendents of these trees will eventually be tested to verify the transmissibility of this characteristic of resistance.

Finally, numerous other experiments have also been put into place. Tests of cloning, tests of bi-parental descendance, tests for evaluating improvements in populations and tests for evaluating familial resistance to weevil are current studies which will advance the program toward greater genetic improvement of this species.

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