This study quantified and compared intra-tree and inter-tree variations in ring width and wood density components in balsam fir (Abies balsamea) grown in Quebec, Canada. In addition, the study examined correlations between ring width and wood density components at different stem positions from the stump level to the stem top. Ring width and wood density components of individual rings were measured by X-ray densitometry. Both the intra- and inter-tree variations in balsam fir are large, but the inter-tree variation is relatively smaller than the intra-tree variation. Much of the intra-tree variation is due to the radial variation, whereas the axial variation is much smaller. Compared to ring width and its components, wood density characteristics show a considerably smaller variation at both the inter- and intra-tree level. In almost all wood characteristics studied (except for latewood width), the intra- and inter-tree variations are more or less influenced by tree age. Cambial age explains more intra-tree variation in wood density components than ring width, whereas more intra-tree variation in ring width components is due to ring width. Cambial age and ring width explain a comparable percentage of variation in ring density. Only a few of the correlations between ring width and wood density components vary significantly with stem position from the stump to the stem top at the inter-tree level. In balsam fir, a negative correlation between ring density and ring width is significant in the butt log, but the correlation decreases to an insignificant level at and above a height of 3.0 m.
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