Long-term effect of fertilization on stone pine growth and cone production

Key message
Fertilization is a feasible management technique for Pinus pinea L. cropping, with increased cone production up to 9 years after the application and superior trunk diameter growth every year. Fertilization effects on cone size-weight indicate the value of re-fertilizing.

Context Stone pine (Pinus pinea) is a species of economic interest for its highly in demand pine nuts. Despite the high value of pine nuts, cones are harvested mostly from non-managed forests. Consequently, advances in cropping techniques, such as fertilization, are needed.
Aims To monitor the effect of fertilization on growth and cone production during 10 years after fertilization, adjusted to soil characteristics, on a 16-year-old stone pine orchard.
Methods A fertilization trial including fertilized and non-fertilized plots was established. Diameter (trunk and crown) and height were repeatedly measured in each tree for 10 years. Cones were annually harvested from each tree and counted.
Results Stone pine cone production increased significantly from the third to the ninth year of treatment, with a peak increase of 3.3 times.
Conclusion Fertilization was a useful silvicultural practice to increase stone pine cone production. Periodical fertilization is recommended.

Stone pine, Fertilization, Cone production

Loewe-Muñoz, V., Delard, C., Del Río, R. et al. Long-term effect of fertilization on stone pine growth and cone production. Annals of Forest Science 77, 69 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-00978-6

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Data availability
The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to institutional guidelines, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Handling Editor
Barry A. Gardiner

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