Variation in the incidence and severity of drought crack in three conifer species in North East Scotland

Andrew Cameron, Duncan Orr, James Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The incidence of longitudinal drought cracks in coniferous trees may increase as a consequence of climate change. While larger diameter trees are more prone to splitting, it is unclear why only some of the larger trees within the same stand typically suffer damage. Matched pairs of trees of the same size with and without cracks were studied in two adjacent pole-stage mixed stands of Sitka spruce/grand fir (Picea sitchensis/Abies grandis) and Sitka spruce/noble fir (Picea sitchensis/Abies procera) located in North-East Scotland. A range of attributes were measured on 15 damaged and undamaged trees of each species. Length and position of cracks on stems were also recorded, and annual ring width and latewood percentage measured on cores. Noble fir had significantly longer cracks and these were located higher in the stem than the other species. Fewer cracks formed on east-facing side of stems in all species suggesting that prevailing westerly winds may place greater tensile forces on the damaged sides of stems. A higher proportion of latewood (associated with higher tangential shrinkage) was found in the firs and may explain the greater incidence of cracking on grand and noble fir stems (13 and 16% respectively) in comparison with Sitka spruce (3%).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-662
Number of pages5
JournalScandinavian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number8
Early online date9 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • drought crack
  • latewood proportion
  • Sitka spruce
  • grand fir
  • noble fir


Dive into the research topics of 'Variation in the incidence and severity of drought crack in three conifer species in North East Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this