Propagation method influences first year field survival and growth of Paulownia

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Field trials at three locations were used to evaluate survival and early growth of Paulownia elongata, P. fortunei, and P. × ‘Henan 1’ plants produced from seeds, shoot cuttings, and micropropagated shoots. One year after field establishment, trees produced by either vegetative propagation method survived with higher frequency and were taller and of greater diameter breast height than trees grown from seed. The influence of propagation method was more pronounced in P. elongata and P. fortunei than in P. × ‘Henan 1‘. Survival frequency was similar for each species/hybrid, but both species were taller than P. × ‘Henan 1’ across propagation method and site. Field site had a pronounced influence on tree survival and height. Species/hybrid differences were not detected at the site that promoted the greatest tree growth, but P. elongata outperformed P. fortunei and P. × ‘Henan 1’ at the two sub-optimal sites. Clones within species/hybrid produced through micropropagation differed in survival frequency, height, and diameter breast height. Under the conditions used for this study, Paulownia field survival and early growth in central North Carolina was improved by using P. elongata or P. fortunei produced by rooting shoot cuttings or micropropagated shoots. Significant variation among clones within these species demonstrated the potential benefit of identifying superior clones to improve first year field survival and growth.

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