It is not known when changes in primary direct heat stress tolerance of conifer seedlings occur in relation to other seasonally changing physiological parameters. This information should be incorporated into nursery practices and the matching of genotypes to landscape sites. Greenhouse-cultured, container-grown Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, and ponderosa pine. were cold acclimated and reacclimated in growth chambers over 19 weeks. Direct heat stress tolerance of needles, cold hardiness, and bud dormancy were measured weekly. Douglas-fir and Engelmann spruce heat stress tolerance increased with the development of new growth through one complete growth cycle, i.e., bud break, maturation, cold hardening, dehardening, and bud break the following growing season. Ponderosa pine differed in that new needles had intermediate tolerance, and fully cold hardy needles were the most intolerant. In none of the species did the timing of changes in heat stress tolerance coincide consistently with changes in cold hardiness or bud dormancy.
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