iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Is tree shelter protection an effective complement to weed competition management in improving the morpho-physiological response of holm oak planted seedlings?

Carlos J Ceacero (1)   , Rafael M Navarro-Cerrillo (2), José Luis Díaz-Hernández (3), Antonio D Del Campo (4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 7, Issue 5, Pages 289-299 (2014)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1126-007
Published: Apr 01, 2014 - Copyright © 2014 SISEF

Research Articles

Weed control is a key aspect that influences seedling response in newly-established plantations. Tree shelter protection may be an effective complement to weed control with a positive effect on the overall response of seedlings. Our study focused on assessing the morpho-physiological response of Holm oak (Quercus ilex L. ballota [Desf.] Samp.) plantations to weed control and individual protection as a combined cultural technique on a cropland site in southern Spain. The weed control treatments (cultivation, herbicide and mulch) were also applied in combination with tree shelters. Morpho-physiological variables including survival, aerial and root morphology, water potential, gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence were monitored over a 2-year period. Results showed that weed competition management treatments improved the seedling survival rate compared to the control treatment. Moreover, shelter was associated with a greater height growth. At early stages of establishment, and particularly under combined treatments, all plants invested more resources in their aerial parts than in their root system. Seedlings did not regulate water loss as a result of water stress, contrary to what would be expected in Mediterranean areas. Under all treatments, especially those combined with tree shelters, seedlings took up to 2 years to achieve morpho-physiological adaptation (i.e. height and diameter growths, water stress behavior) to site conditions. In addition, tree shelters promoted an increase in net photosynthesis compared to non-shelter treatments during the winter period. The tree shelters also limited the emergence of photo-inhibition phenomena in seedlings so that plants under combined treatments showed greater photo-chemical efficiency. Thus, this study supports the effectiveness of tree shelter protection as a complement to weed control treatments. More specifically, it suggests that combining individual protection (shelter) and weed control around seedlings is an interesting technique for reforestation of forest ecosystems in Mediterranean areas.


Tree Shelter, Tillage, Mulch, Oxyfluorfen, Photosynthesis, Photoinhibition

Authors’ address

Carlos J Ceacero
Departamento de Fisiología, Anatomía y Biología Celular, Facultad de Ciencias Experimentales, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, E-41013 Sevilla (Spain)
Rafael M Navarro-Cerrillo
Departamento de Ingeniería Forestal, Universidad de Córdoba, Edf. Leonardo da Vinci, Campus de Rabanales, Carretera Nacional IV, Km 396, Aptdo 3048. 14071 Cordoba (Spain)
José Luis Díaz-Hernández
IFAPA. Camino de Purchil s/n. Consejería de Agricultura, Pesca y Medio Ambiente, Junta de Andalucía, Aptdo 2027, E-18080 Granada (Spain)
Antonio D Del Campo
Re-ForeST, Research group in Forest Science and Technology, DIHMA- ETSIAMN, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Camí de Vera s/n, E-46022 Valencia (Spain)

Corresponding author

Carlos J Ceacero


Ceacero CJ, Navarro-Cerrillo RM, Díaz-Hernández JL, Del Campo AD (2014). Is tree shelter protection an effective complement to weed competition management in improving the morpho-physiological response of holm oak planted seedlings?. iForest 7: 289-299. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1126-007

Academic Editor

Roberto Tognetti

Paper history

Received: Sep 12, 2013
Accepted: Nov 26, 2013

First online: Apr 01, 2014
Publication Date: Oct 01, 2014
Publication Time: 4.20 months

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