Loblolly pine is a major fibre source for the pulp and paper industry. Here we developed the first nonlinear models to predict the within-tree and regional variation of tracheid length and width for planted loblolly pine. Data were obtained from macerated tracheids and near-infrared spectroscopy calibration models from trees sampled in 109 stands across the southeastern United States. The fixed effects for the final tracheid length model, which included cambial age, height of disk within tree, and physiographic region, explained 71 percent of the variation with root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.28 mm, while the fixed effects for the final tracheid width model explained 57 percent of the variation with RMSE of 1.4 μm. There was significant variation in tracheid properties across the growing regions. Tree maps showing within-tree variability in tracheid properties were produced. Five simulated scenarios were compared using the models developed, with mean tracheid dimensions calculated on a whole-tree basis at a first and second thinnings, and at final harvest. Also from the final harvest, the tops of trees, and outerwood chips produced during lumber manufacturing were also simulated. For the whole tree scenarios, both mean tracheid length and width increased with age, increasing from 2.24 mm and 40.5 μm (age 12), to 2.51 mm and 41.3 μm (age 18), and to 2.73 and 41.8 μm at age 25, respectively. The tops of the trees at age 25 had a mean tracheid length of 2.46 mm and a mean width of 41.0 μm, while the chips had a mean tracheid length of 3.13 mm and a mean width of 42.5 μm. Due to the models representing samples collected from across the southeastern United States, and their relatively high precision, they are suitable for incorporation into growth and yield systems allowing for prediction of tracheid properties.
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