Acorns from 19 red oak (Quercus rubra L.) trees were collected in fall 1988. Whips were produced in 1989 and field planted in 1990. Mother tree identity was maintained throughout the study. Growth during the whip production phase was rapid; the average height growth for the 19 families was 122 cm (approximately 4 ft). The best family averaged 167 cm (5.5 ft), the worst 73 cm (2.5 ft) with average individual whip values of $11.20 and $2.80, respectively. When transplanted to nursery fields, the whips had high survival and rapid growth rates. Average individual tree value at the end of three growing seasons ranged from $38.60 to $11.20 for families 6 and 12, respectively. All the traits measured in this study: height, caliper, % acceptable and individual tree value, have relatively high heritability estimates, indicating that traits are under genetic control and thus subject to manipulation by nursery mangers and breeders. The family that produced the highest value whips, did not produce the highest value finish stock. Average finish stock value for a family was determined more by the percentage of the acceptable trees (a measure of quality), than by plant height or caliper (measures of growth).
Published as contribution 172-93 of the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.
3Associate Professor, Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8002.