Open Journal of Forestry
2011. Vol.1, No.2, 27-30
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI: 10.4236/ojf.2011.12004
Ponderosa Pine Family Growth Comparisons
in the Central Great Plains of Kansas
Wayne A. Geye*, Keith D. Lynch
1Division of Forestry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, USA
Email: *
Received September 7th, 2011; revised October 5th, 2011; accepted October 13th, 2011.
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) has been planted widely in the Great Plains. Recommendations based
on a 1968 study were to use material from south central South Dakota and north central Nebraska. A second test
to further delineate seed sources (provenance/families) in this region was established in 1986. This paper reports
results for survival, height, diameter, and D2H measurements in Kansas at 15 years. Results identify a wide
range of suitable families within the Great Plains region. A majority of the tested sources performed well espe-
cially those from central Nebraska. Those sources from eastern Montana and western Nebraska performed
poorly where environmental or geographic conditions were the poorest, thus verifying the original recommenda-
Keywords: Ponderosa Pine, Pinus Pon de rosa, Provenance, Seed Sources, Tree Selectio n, Growth Characteristics
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Laws) is an important
component of the windbreak agroforestry system in the Great
Plains. Its drought tolerance, dense crown form, and tall growth
habit make ponderosa pine excellent for windbreaks, sight bar-
riers, and ornamental plantings (Flint, 1983).It is one of the few
tall trees that grow in the region and also provides full year-
round protection to fields and farmsteads because of its ever-
green nature (Schaefer & Baer, 1985).The natural range of
ponderosa pine extends from British Columbia, Canada, south-
ward into northern Mexico and from California eastward into
the Great Plains, except for Kansas (Crichfield & Little, 1966).
It has been widely planted in the plains region, but has shown
inconsistent performance.
Western pine tip moth (Rhyacioniabushnelli) has caused
widespread damage in the plains (Kopp et al., 1987), but out-
standing performance of some individual trees in the plains
plantations suggests that proper selection could improve tree
Early studies determined that trees grown from seed col-
lected from the northeastern range of ponderosa pine performed
best in most of the provenance test plantations (Deneke & Read
1975; Baer & Collins 1979; Read, 1983; Schaefer & Baer, 1985,
1992; Van Haverbeke, 1986). Also, 6-year datafrom a Kansas
plantation showed that early growth appeared to be clinally
related to elevation of seed provenances (Deneke & Read,
1975). Therefore, plains nurseries have focused much of their
ponderosa pine production on seed collections near Ainsworth
and Valentine, Nebraska, and Rosebud, South Dakota. In addi-
tion, trees from Jordan, Montana, performed well in more than
half of the early plantations (Read, 1983).
In 1986, a second cooperative ponderosa pine study was ini-
tiated by the GP-13 Technical Committee of the Great Plains
Agricultural Council in cooperation with the North Central and
Rocky Mountain Forest Experiment Stations. The intent of the
study was to more intensively sample recommended prove-
nances identified in the 1968 study. Collection origins are
shown in Figure 1. Nine progeny tests were established in Sas-
katchewan Canada, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota,
Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Minnesota. This pa-
per reports data from the Kansas tests. This paper reports data
from the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas tests. No addi-
tional tree improvement studies have been initiated in the
United States since this effort. Recently in Argentina (Meier et
al., 2004) a genetic tree improvement effort was initiated with
intention to established seed orchards in Patagonia. Tree im-
provement studies have attributed approximately 2% of the
total variation to differences among geographic locations in the
Southwestern United States (Yow et al.). One generation of tree
improvement may lead to gains in yield of 1% - 15% or reduce
rotations by 1 years - 20 years in ponderosa pine in the Inland
Empire Tree Improvement Cooperative in the northern Rockies
of the United States (Hamilton et al., 1994).
Materials and Methods
The tree plantation reported here used seedlings representing
75open-pollinated families from 13 geographic provenances
Figure 1.
Means of growth characteristics of the 10 ten and bottom 10 families in
the kansas.
(Table 1) and were planted in an individual tree factorial plant-
ing design with 8 replications at 3.7 m × 3.7 m (12 × 12 ft) in
Kansas for total of 1167 trees. Spacing within each replication
was represented by five trees in single-tree, noncontiguous plots.
Two border rows surrounded the plantation. Weeds were con-
trolled by cultivation for the first 3 years. The Kansas plantation
was near Milford Lake, Kansas, on an alluvial sandy loam site.
Superior height growth potential can be accurately identified at
an early age (i.e., 5 to 15years; Lambeth, 1980; Read, 1983; Van
Haverbeke, 1986; Schaefer & Baer, 1992). In this analysis, data
were also analyzed separatel y for the plantation.
Analysis consisted of ANOVA using the GLM procedure of
SAS (SAS Institute, 2003) for height, trunk diameter, and D2H
(a measure of trunk volume—volume index); Duncan’s multi-
ple range test for mean separation; andchi-square for survival.
In addition, correlations were determined among height, di-
ameter, D2H, and latitude and longitude. Seventy five seed
sources (families) were compared. Most of the sources were
from north central Nebraska and southern South Dakota (Table 1).
Results and Discussion
Fifteen-year survival and growth of the top 25% were from
four provenances 757, 990, 994, and 996; generally at the edge
of its natural range. Tests of effects are shown in Table 2 for di-
eter, height, and D2H. Family performance differed signify-
ntly (<1%) level across the plantation (Table 3).Means for the
top 10, mean, and bottom 10 are shown in Figure 1. Replicates
were significant at the <1% level and interactions were mixed.
No winter dieback or diseases were detected. Similar results in
a 28 plantation study in the Canada and the United States
showednorth central Nebraska sources were best as reported
from a greater study (Read 1983).
Survival after 15 growing seasons was good for all of the 75
families compared. The mean survival of all families was
86.4% with a range of 38.1% to 100%. The top 10 families are
as follows: 99010, 72005, 72109, 75713, 99001, 99010, 99201,
99404, 99506, 99613. All are from the north central part of
Nebraska. Most families had 100% survival. The five poorest
families were far western sources from Jordan, Montana and
one from South Dakota at 48.1%.They were significantly dif-
ferent (<1% level) from the other families. The other 74 sources
were not. A similar test at age 10 among provenances showed
720 and 721 (central Nebraska) with 72 and 82 percent survival
in the Northern Great Plains (Read 1983).
The mean diameter was13.0 cm (6.0 in.)with a range from
17.2 cm - 5.3 cm (2.1 to 6.8 n). Mean diameters of the top 10
and bottom 10 families (Table 2) were 15.7 and 8.9 cm (6.2 and
3.4 in), respectively. Families from the 720 and 721 prove an-
ces were among the best. A similar test at age 10 among prove-
nces showed 720 and 721 (central Nebraska) were the best in
the Northern Great Plains (Read 1983).The largest 59 families
were not significantly different ranging from 17.2 to 14.1 cm
(6.8 to 4.9 in). Five families (provenance 811) from Jordan,
Montana, had significantly smaller diameters than the other
families (where environmental factors were poor having very
low precipitation and low annual temperatures), whereas di-
ameters of the poorest 10 families were significantly smaller
than those of the best (Table 3).Trees with the largest diameters
had the tallest heights (r = 0.77096 at the 1% level).
Table 1.
Collection zones (provenances) of ponderosa p ine seed sources.
origin(#) Tree additio ns
(families)( #) Local area
(town/state) Annual prec ipi ta-
tion((mm )(in)) Annual mean
temp. C0 (F0) Elevation
m (ft) Latitude
(0N) Longitude
720 02 - 11 Ainsworth NE 579 (22.8) 8.6 (47.6) 780 (2560) 42.59 100.00
721 01 - 11 Valentine NE 495 (19.5) 8.4 (47.2) 8 00 (2625) 42.88 100.55
757 01 - 40 Rosebud SD 955 (37.6) 8.5 (47.7) 850 (2789) 43.25 100.82
811 13,15 - 16,19,22 Jordan MT 327 (12.9) 6.9 (44.5) 808 (2625) 47.31 106.89
990 01 - 10 Springview NE 5 73 (22.7) 8.3 (47.0) 740 (2428) 42.82 99.75
991 01 - 05 Kilgore NE 516 (20.3) 8.3 (47.0) 800 (2625) 42.94 100.97
992 01 - 04 Drinkwater NE 495 (19.5) 8.3 (47.0) 859 (2800) 42.47 101.07
993 01 - 07 Nenzel NE 526 (20.3) 9.0(48.3) 950 (3117) 42.93 101.11
994 01 - 05 Bassett NE 635 (25.0) 9.0 (48.3) 71 0 ( 2329) 42.60 99.54
995 01 - 06 Snake Ri ver NE 495 (19.5) 8.3 (47.00 866 (2840) 42.71 100.97
996 01 - 14 Sparks NE 495 (19.5) 8.3 (47. 0) 800 (2625) 42.94 100.24
Table 2.
Test of source effects on 15-year-old ponderosa pine families.
Effect Pr > F
DF Diameter Height D2H
Family 74 <0.0001 <0.0001 <0.0001
Replicate 5 0.0020 0.0436 0.1047
Family X replicate 345 0.02262 0.03992 0.2912
W. A. GEYE ET AL. 29
Table 3.
Ranking of the 10 top and bottom 10 families at 15 years in Kansas.
Survival Diameter Height D2H - - volume index
Family (%) Family cm (in) Family m (ft) Family Volume
Top 10 families
72004 100a 99010 17.2 (6.8a) 72109 6.0(19.6a) 72109 926a
72005 100a 72109 16.5 (6.5ab) 72103 5.8(19.1ab) 99010 906ab
72109 100a 99305 16.4 (6.5abc) 99101 5.8(18.9abc) 99305 815abc
75713 100a 96601 15.7 (6.2a-d) 72104 5.6(18.3a-d) 99006 698bcd
99001 100a 72004 15.2 (6.0a-f) 75710 5.5(18.2a-) 72004 687b-d
99010 100a 75710 15.2 (6.0a-f) 72004 5.5(18.2a-f) 75710 678b-f
99201 100a 75704 15.2 (6.0a-f) 99305 5.5(18.2a-f) 72104 676b-g
99404 100a 72104 15.0 (5.9a-f) 99404 5.5(18.1a-f) 72103 676c-g
99506 100a 99090 15.0 (5.9a-e) 99002 5.5(17.7a-h) 99008 647c-g
99613 100a 75707 15.0 (5.9a-e) 99405 5.4(17.5a-h) 72011 647fc-g
Bottom 10 f a milies
99102 71.4a-c 75719 10.7 (4.2o-s) 75719 4.3(14.0p-o) 75735 282p-x
81119 70.0a-d 75718 10.2 (4.0o-s) 75718 4.3(14.0p-o) 99501 240q-x
99006 68.8a-d 99501 9.9 (3.9p-s) 75735 4.2(13.7o-q) 99101 240q-x
99204 68.2a-d 99302 9.9 (3.9p-s) 99501 4.2(13.7n-q) 99302 235r-x
99502 63.6a-d 81113 9.9 (3.9p-s) 99302 4.1(13.5n-q) 75718 224t-x
81115 56.2b-d 99101 9.7 (3.8r-t) 81119 3.4(11.2r) 81113 187t-x
81116 50.0cd 81119 8.1 (3.2r-t) 81115 3.4(11.2r) 81115 180u-x
75718 50.0cd 81115 7.1 (2.8t-u) 81113 3.3(10.7r) 81119 155v-x
81122 38.9d 81116 6.9 (2.7u-v) 81116 3.1(10.3r) 81111 116w
81113 38.1d 81122 5.3 (2.1v) 81122 2.9((9.4r) 81112 80w
N 1167 1167 1167 1167
Mean 86.4 13.0 (6.0) 5.0 (16.5) 476
Sign. < 1% <1% <1% <1%
Range 38.1 - 100 5.3 - 17.2 (2.1 - 6.8) 2 .9 - 6.0 (9.4 - 19.6) 80-906
The tallest families were from central Nebraska. They were
significantly different (<1% level) from the other families.
Mean height of all sources was 5.0 m (16.5 ft) with a range of
2.9 to 6.0 m (9.4 to 19.6 ft). The top 10 sources (Table 3) dif-
fered by 0.6m (2.13 ft). Five sources from Jordan, Montana,
(provenance 811) were significantly shorter than all of the re-
maining sources. The poorest 10families ranged in height from
2.9 to 4.3 m (9.4 to 14.0 ft) and were significantly shorter (1%
level) than the best 71. There were no significant differences in
height among the best 55 families.
A proceeding test to this one (Koop, 1987) using a much lar-
ger number of provenances found 720, 721 among the tallest
seedlings at four years. A provenance test in North Dakota in
1968 and 1969 (Van Deusen, 1980) with many of the same
provenances as in this study had similar results. At ages of 5
and 10 years, the best were 721, 757, 720. Many families from
provenances 720 and 721 were among the tallest in our study.
Ponderosa pine from this area should maintain height growth
superiority whenplanted in the central Plains States. Evidently
these sources contain genes endowing them with a broad range
of site tolerances (Read, 1983). Sources from lower elevations
grew faster as reported by others (Mirov et al., 1952; Callaham
& Hasel, 1961; Squillace & Silen, 1962; Hanover, 1963), but
we did not observe this trend.
D2H (Volume Index)
The trees with the greatest size were the same as found for
both diameter and height.
Volume index among sources, indicated by D2H value s, was
significantly different (1% level; Table 3). Mean D2H of all
sources was 476 units with a range from 80 to 926. The best 51
sources differed significantly from the shortest24.Five sources
from Jordan, Montana, were among the 10 sources with the
smallest volume.
Correlation Analysis
Environmental factors did not influence tree growth as there
was no strong relationship between annual precipitation and
temperatures or elevation, latitude, and longitude. Diameter,
height, and D2H values were highly significant; diameter and
height at 0.77096, and 0.9345with D2H while height was
0.8056 with D2H. Read (1983) and Schafer & Baer (1985) have
found a close relationship between juvenile-mature correlations.
Superior sources may be found at a fairly early age. Read (1983)
noted that 2- and 3-year-old seedlings from the NE-SD areas
among the tallest in his nursery study.
Summary and Conclusion
Fast-growing trees are desirable for establishment in the
Great Plains. Ponderosa pine is often planted in homestead and
field plantings in the Central and Northern Plains. Plains-wide
studies conducted in the 1960s showed that sources from south
central South Dakota and north central Nebraska were the best
planting material. The present study was conducted to test a
greater number of families to further refine selection areas for
ponderosa pine sources. Materials from 75 individual trees
were planted in the Central Plains sites for evaluation. Within
this relatively small area, analyses indicated that ponderosa
pine provenances affected growth of this 15-year-oldplantation.
The best families came from central Nebraska. Environmental
or geographic factors did not influence growth.
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