The effect of Sirex noctilio infestation and fire damage on the chemical composition of South African-grown Pinus patula pulpwood
AbstractThe infection and association between the wood wasp Sirex noctilio and the fungus Amylostereum areolatum is responsible for large-scale tree mortality in the Midlands of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. An exploratory investigation on the effect of the infestation of trees by the wood wasp and its associated fungus on the chemical composition of Pinus patula pulpwood was undertaken. Various tree classes representing different levels of physiological growth stress from this infestation were compared. Together with the above stress agents, fire damage to P. patula trees was also considered as a possible cause of changes in pulpwood chemical composition. Chemical analyses to determine the Seifert cellulose and Klason lignin contents as well as the levels of water- and solvent-soluble extractives were conducted using published Tappi standard methods. The results indicated only negligible differences between infestation levels (tree classes) with respect to Seifert cellulose and Klason lignin contents. In contrast, highly significant differences were observed for solvent- and water-borne extractives. It is evident from the results that P. patula trees engage a defence strategy to counter the effects of the infestation and the resulting physiological stress. The results of the chemical analyses suggest that trees should not be harvested any younger than the intended rotation age of 12 years and at the time of harvesting all the biomass, including the infected wood, should be sent to the pulp mill. Fire-damaged trees can be utilised in the same way as healthy trees when applying the TMP process provided the charcoal on the outer bark is removed. The usefulness of a biplot to simultaneously display the various tree classes and their chemical composition is illustrated.
Keywords: extractive content; fire damage; Klason lignin; Pinus patula; Seifert cellulose; Sirex noctilio; thermomechanical pulping
Southern Forests 2008, 70(3): 215–220