Forests of the future should be resistant to exacerbating climatic conditions, especially to increasing drought, but at the same time provide a sufficient amount and quality of timber. In this context coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.)) is a promising species since it remains productive even under chronic drought. By choosing suitable provenances within the range of Douglas-fir (P. menziesii (Mirb.)) for a given site we can further optimise tree fitness under dry conditions or even increase timber yield. Eighteen coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) var. menziesii) provenances were tested for seedling survival, yield, wood quality, and drought tolerance by taking advantage of a Dutch provenance trial, established in 1971 within the framework of the 1966/1967 IUFRO seed collection program. The site of the Dutch trial is representative for many sites in Central Europe and is characterised by a moderate precipitation and temperature regime. Measurements on height and diameter growth were combined with a dendrochronological study on growth response to drought years. We found a clear latitudinal trend indicating that Douglas-fir provenances from the northern part of the species-distribution range are generally more productive than provenances from the south. In contrast, drought tolerance increased towards the south. This suggests that it is impossible to identify provenances combining maximum productivity with lowest susceptibility towards drought. However, based on the results from the trial we can give recommendations on suitable provenances that are expected to perform best under future conditions in Central Europe. On sites where severe drought events are unlikely to occur in future, fast growing provenances from the north, like Nimkish, should be planted. These provenances respond plastically to drought years, but the strong reduction of tree growth in the drought year itself indicates that these provenances will be harmed by an increasing frequency of drought events. However, on sites where water availability is likely to decrease, provenances from the Olympic Peninsula like Forks and Matlock are very promising since they showed still relatively high yield in combination with a high potential to cope with drought. If summer drought increases in frequency and severity as expected, the latewood/earlywood ratio will be drastically reduced with negative consequences for wood quality and cavitation resistance. However, some provenances, like Marblemount or Matlock, might compensate for the negative effect of summer drought on latewood/earlywood ratio by the contribution of photosynthesis in winter to whole-year carbon stock.
- scots pine