Assessing the Quality of Seedlings in Small-scale Nurseries in the Highlands of Cameroon: The Use of Growth Characteristics and Quality Thresholds as Indicators

Abstract

In developing countries seedlings are often produced in small-scale nurseries as a means to raise tree planting materials and, provided they are of high quality, these can form the basis for successful forest plantation initiatives. This study uses morphological characteristics to assess the quality of seedlings of three tree species (Persea americana, Cola acuminata and Dacryodes edulis) in the Western Highlands of Cameroon. The growth characteristics and quality indicators of seedlings produced in two nursery categories were compared—three nurseries collaborating with the tree domestication program implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre (Category 1) and three nurseries collaborating with government and non-governmental projects (Category 2). Seedlings produced in nurseries in the first nursery category were found to be uniform in terms of growth characteristics and quality indicators. In the second category, there were relatively higher seedling proportions having measured parameters out of threshold standards for root to shoot ratio and for sturdiness quotient. Significant differences between nursery categories (at α = 0.05) were detected in root collar diameter of C. acuminata and D. edulis and in shoot dry weight of D. edulis. These differences could be attributed to better nursery management as a results of training and technical backstopping received by nursery operators in Category 1. The level of experience of nursery operators in both categories was found to be insufficient and greater exposure to skills and knowledge could enhance the production of high quality seedlings.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the United State Department of Agriculture for funding this research work through the Agricultural and Tree Products Program in the Republic of Cameroon. We are indebted to the many farmers who provided their time and resources for this study.

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Correspondence to Bertin Takoutsing.

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Takoutsing, B., Tchoundjeu, Z., Degrande, A. et al. Assessing the Quality of Seedlings in Small-scale Nurseries in the Highlands of Cameroon: The Use of Growth Characteristics and Quality Thresholds as Indicators. Small-scale Forestry 13, 65–77 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11842-013-9241-7

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Keywords

  • Growth parameters
  • Seedlings quality indicators
  • Root-to-shoot ratio
  • Sturdiness quotient
  • Root deformation
  • Nursery management