Cork-oak (Quercus suber L.) stands will be studied to obtain information on the appropriate silvicultural management to increase production and quality of cork. The results will contribute to the knowledge of a particular and little studied type of forestry, aimed to a sustained non-wood production, using a methodology that in a relatively short period will allow conclusions on tree development and growth to use as input data to develop a model for cork production.
The effect of cork extraction in sustained production cycles on tree growth will be studied in permanent plots in full production, already established in locations representative of the main production areas and covering a range of silvicultural management practices (for instance, cork-oaks in agroforestry systems with cereal crops and pastures and tree stands), by measuring annual growth increments of wood and cork using densitometry to detect and quantify wood growth decreases due to stress caused by cork removal and formation of traumatic phellogens. Yields of cork will be measured and quality parameters determined by conventional methods and by image scanning.
The influence of age of the first cork removal (or of tree diameter), of debarking area, of tree-form pruning and of mineral fertilization will be followed in experimental plots of young not yet decorked trees in relation to tree growth and the formation of traumatic phellogen and its cork production activity.
The carbon allocation patterns to cork and wood will be studied in a seasonal basis in young potted plants to improve our knowledge on the physiology of cork formation. This will be related to carbon assimilation by the foliage and to environmental factors (drought stress and temperature) as well as to the stress caused by cork extraction and traumatic phellogen formation.
The results obtained will be used as input to develop a model for cork production and quality.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
OX1 3RB Oxford