Balsam fir is a native tree species to approximately two-thirds of the eastern Boreal forest across Canada. It is quite common in Alberta throughout the Slave Lake area and along the foothills (northern central regions of the province). Balsam fir can be found across a broad range of site conditions, preferring more shaded and competitive conditions. The species is rarely found in pure stands and is typically shorter-lived than the spruces. Balsam fir is a small-to medium-sized tree, 12 to 18 metres tall and 30 to 45 cm in diameter.
On a national level, balsam fir accounts for nearly 12% of the total Canadian forest inventory. Its greatest proportion of total growing stock is located in southeastern Canada, especially in the Maritime Provinces, where it is considered a valuable commercial species. In Alberta, balsam fir accounts for a small percentage of the province’s softwood inventory – approximately 3%.
The fact sheet describes visual, physical and working properties for this species for the wood-consuming value added sector.
Eastern SPF producters experience an average value loss of $10 to $16/mbf due to drying degrade. A clear understanding of how wood characteristics influence warp will make it easier to effectively modify drying processes to reduce these losses. The goal of this study was to categorize green lumber according to its potential to warp, dry the lumber using a typical industrial kiln schedule and assess whether pieces that either warped or remained straight were correctly identified. Experimental material was a sample of 440 black spruce 8-foot 2x4's from four grain defect groups. These were : 1) control, no grain defects; 2) cross grain but no compression wood; 3) compression wood but no cross grain; and 4) both cross grain and compression wood. Methods used to select lumber with either a high or low potential to warp were successful. Warp was found to be related to the severity of compression wood and cross grain in each piece. Lumber without cross grain or compression wood dried with very little warp. Lumber with both cross grain and compression wood had the lowest quality after drying.
Discolourations of hem-fir, usually called hemlock brownstain, have become an economically important problem with the move towards increased kiln-drying of the wood species mixture and added-value products in which discolourations cannot be tolerated. These discolourations, clearly different from sapstain, can occur in several types and intensities and are a serious problem in high-value markets. Because little is known about their causes means for their control are still unavailable. Therefore fundamental research was initiated to elucidate the biology and chemistry of hemlock brownstain and to suggest control measures. A post graduate student was hired to undertake laboratory and field work as part of a Ph.D. program. The thesis subject was "the role of microorganisms in the phenomenon of hemlock brownstain". The thesis covers: a literature review; laboratory work to locate the stain and define its nature; a storage study of logs and lumber to monitor progress in development of brownstain; fungal isolation work and sap characterization studies; in vitro production of hemlock brownstain in wood and sap; and additional laboratory experiments to determine what factors influence the formation of the brownstain. In addition to the thesis research the role of bacteria in the formation of the stain was investigated in the laboratory and the ability of various chemicals, including fumigants, to prevent the stain was tested in small-scale field test. This report provides an overview of the findings and provides recommendations for future work. The experiments clearly demonstrated that a non-specific microflora can produce brownstain which led to the hypothesis that microorganisms could be involved in hemlock brownstain. Based on our knowledge of the coastal sawmilling industry a strategy of minimizing fungal infection and rapid handling of the tree breakdown into final wood products could probably be the best approach to help reduce the problem. In terms of future work we recommend that work to understand the mechanism of DDAC in mitigation of the browning take precedence in future work on hemlock brownstain.
This publication characterizes nine commercial tree species of Alberta. Included are descriptions of the range and volume of each species, their wood properties, and present and potential manufacturing uses.
This report evaluates a new fluctuating pressure treating process, with a small pressure variation, that could be easily implemented into a treating plant with a control value. Coastal western hemlock being a relatively difficult species to impregnate was chosen as a suitable test species. Incised and unincised hemlock was used to relate to present industry practices.
A software, by which virtual 3-D subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa [Hook] Nutt) logs can be re-created, visualized, and theoretically sawn an infinite number of times, was developed. The software also facilitates obtaining data for determining quantitative variation of clear wood, wet-wood, and knot patterns within the tree stems.
Results based on the quantitative calculations showed that there are two general patterns of wet-wood within the sub-alpine fir stems. The first pattern is called wet-pocket and the second pattern is called wet-streak. Wet-streak patterns are generally confined to the medullary-inner heartwood regions in the outer heartwood and heartwood-sapwood transition zones of the tree stems, mostly associated with dead knots. Wet-pocket patterns consist of portions occurring in mid regions in close proximity to the base and regions mostly around partially dead knots of the tree stems. Both wet-wood patterns usually converge at the nodes and extend along the branch axes, forming a connection with the exterior boundary only around branches.
Numerical analysis of the results showed that the volume of both types is more prevalent in the lower-stem regions, becoming less prevalent towards the living crown. The radial extension of wet-wood types with radial distance from the tree centre was variable, with a maximum diameter of 22 cm. Both wet-wood volumes increased with increasing tree age and diameter class independent of age. However, the percentage of total wet-wood volume decreased with increasing DBH, increased stem height and showed no clear trend with age class. Total amounts of wet-wood ranged up to 27 per cent in individual stems. A weak relationship was found between dead knot-pattern and wet-streak pattern volumes, while a moderate high relationship was found between partially dead knot and wet-pocket volumes. A weak relationship was found between external tree characteristics and both wet-wood distributions.
As a result, some promising trends emerged for a better understanding of wet-wood and knot pattern variations as influenced by tree stem locations, DBH, and age. The developed software may offer a compelling technique for assisting subalpine fir log processing decisions. However, the destructive data collection method used in this study is “error-prone”. Therefore, an interesting alternative would be the use of more accurate non-destructive scanning techniques, such as CT-scanning, to verify the trends identified here through more deliberate sampling at other forest sites. A new study is already underway to meet this need.
The objectives of this part of the project is to provide compression strength data: 1) To be able to correlate fesults obtained using "short" and "long" specimens in the in-grade compression testing program. The U.S. in-grade testing program is based on tests of two "short" specimens cut from full length dimensional lumber. 2) To be able to evaluate the influence of rate of compressi ve deformation in parallel-to-grain compression testing.