Liepiņš, K.* and Rieksts-Riekstiņš, J. 2013. Stemwood Density of Juvenile Silver Birch Trees (Betula pendula Roth) from Plantations on Former Farmlands. Baltic Forestry 19(2): 179-186.

The purpose of this study was to determine the basic density of knot-free birch wood from young silver birch plantations to assess the quality of future roundwood timber assortments and to evaluate the effects of the individual growth traits of birch trees on basic wood density. The first test of silver birch stemwood density from plantations on former farmlands in Latvia did not reveal a substantial difference in the wood density of the birch trees compared to wood density values reported in other studies of birch wood from natural forests and plantations in the Baltic Sea region. Our study revealed a positive correlation between wood density and tree age, tree height and slenderness ratio. A negative correlation was found between wood density and ring width. These results suggest that the density of stemwood will increase as the plantations approach felling age. However, intensive management of the plantations clearly will have an effect on wood properties. As a consequence of the substantially shorter rotations and intensive silviculture of silver birch plantations, the timber industry should expect that wood extracted from the plantations in the future will have a lower density than wood harvested from natural birch stands.

Key words: silver birch; Betula pendula; plantations, wood density.