Reduction of growth stresses in logs of Hieronyma alchorneoides Allemão from fast-growth plantations using steaming and heating: effects on the quality of lumber

Key message

Growth stresses are usually present in the fast-growing trees of forest plantations and can be evaluated along stem diameter. Growth stresses are relaxed after tree felling and during sawing and drying, and are manifested in the lumber quality. Different methods have been employed to reduce the effect of growth stresses, such as steaming and heating treatments. Excellent growth and yield in forest plantations of Hyeronima alchorneoides were observed, but they showed difficulties in the primary sawing process and a high incidence of wood warping during the drying process. Steam and heat treatments on the log were used to study their effects on H. alchorneoides sawlog and to evaluate lumber quality.


Context Growth stresses in Hieronyma alchorneoides Allemão trees growing under fast-growth conditions show high and negative effects on the lumber quality (increased warps and splits or checks). Therefore, steaming and heating treatments have been applied to reduce these effects on the lumber.
Aims The main objective of the present work was to evaluate the effects of steaming and heating treatments on sawlogs of Hieronyma alchorneoides from the fast-growth plantations to reduce the longitudinal surface growth stress.
Methods Twenty-six trees ready for felling in the third thinning were sampled and commercial logs measuring 2.5 m long were extracted from them at different heights. These logs were used to investigate the effect of steaming and heating treatments and the growth stresses were measured before and after treatment. Crooking due to sawing, colour and wards, splits and checks were measured.
Results The results showed that the internal temperature of the logs was approximately 85 °C after the heating treatment, and it was nearly 90 °C after the steaming treatment. It resulted in a reduction of 1500 με (micro-deformations) before the treatment to 1000 με after the treatment. Therefore, crooking due to sawing decreased significantly in logs or semi-logs. The parameters such as colour, luminosity (L*), redness (a*) and lightness (b*) decreased in heartwood while L* increased and a* and b* decreased in sapwood, which led to the decrease in quality of the lumber, the magnitude and incidence of the defects in treated logs.
Conclusion As compared to untreated logs, the best performance was obtained with steaming treatment, followed by the heating treatment. The difference found between steaming and heating can be attributed to the temperature in the internal part of the log, which was more than 90 °C in steaming treatment; meanwhile, in the heating treatment, the internal temperature of the log was slightly lower (80–85 °C). Therefore, glass transition can be more easily reached by steaming treatment than by the heating treatment.

Log treatment; Warps; Lumber quality; Tropical species; Fast-growth plantation

Moya, R., Tenorio, C. Reduction of growth stresses in logs of Hieronyma alchorneoides Allemão from fast-growth plantations using steaming and heating: effects on the quality of lumber. Annals of Forest Science 78, 74 (2021).

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Data availability
The datasets used during the current work are available from the corresponding author upon request and in the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity (KNB) at

Handling Editor
Jean-Michel Leban

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