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Title: Growing corkbark fir and subalpine fir for nursery production

item JENSEN, JENNIFER - University Of Idaho
item Barney, Danny
item BAUER, MICHAEL - University Of Idaho

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/26/2012
Publication Date: 4/1/2013
Citation: Jensen, J., Barney, D.L., Bauer, M. 2013. Growing corkbark fir and subalpine fir for nursery production. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication. 645:1-11.

Interpretive Summary: Conifer production for landscape and Christmas trees is well-established in the Northwest. Much is known and has been written about Colorado spruce, noble fir, grand fir, and other species commonly used for commercial production. In recent years, producers and consumers have shown increased interest in exotic species, in general, and true firs in particular. This guide addresses the production of corkbark fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa) for such small, niche markets. Though corkbark fir may be produced for landscapes, commercial production of subalpine fir or landscpaes is not recommended because of their vulnerability to foliar blight. However, both varieites have potential for use as specialty Christmas trees, to a limited extent, in the Pacific Northwest.

Technical Abstract: This bulletin is largely based on research conducted at the University of Idaho during 2000-2009. Corkbark and subalpine fir have desirable characteristics for Christmas tree and landscape use, including soft, fragrant foliage that ranges from dark green to silvery or bluish-green. Depending on seed source, the trees produce tall rather open shapes with minimal pruning. Research during the project confirmed and documented high susceptibility to spring frosts and the limitation that places on production and landscape use. The research also documented a range of susceptibility to a Phoma-type fungal pathogen, from highly resistant to highly susceptible. Seed sources strongly influenced growth rates, tree heights, tree form, and susceptibility to the blight. Corkbark fir seed sources from the Apache, Coconino, and Gila National Forests appeared suitable for landscape and nursery production for selected sites. Subalpine fir from all sources tested proved too susceptible to fungal blight to be used for landscape use. The blight, however, is easily controlled in nurseries and trees derived from seed sources in the Dixie, Cibola, Kaibab, and Uncompahgre National Forests appeared suitable for Christmas tree production. The bulletin reports on recommended practices for site selection, seedling production, establishment and care, and managing pests and diseases.