Longitudinal and Transverse Permeability of Balsam Fir Wetwood and Normal Heartwood


  • Torsten Lihra
  • Alain Cloutier
  • Shu-Yin Zhang


Intrinsic permeability, <i>Abies balsamea</i> L. Mill, wetwood, wood drying, wood anatomy, SEM


The occurrence of wetwood in balsam fir is a problem in the drying of sawn lumber: drying time increases and moisture content of dried lumber is heterogeneous. Permeability may be used as an indicator of drying rates. Longitudinal, radial, and tangential intrinsic permeability of balsam fir wet-wood and normal heartwood was measured in this study. The longitudinal intrinsic permeability was about 2,000 times and 9,000 times higher than the tangential and the radial intrinsic permeability, respectively. Wetwood had a higher longitudinal permeability than normal heartwood, but no significant difference was found between the radial and tangential directions. Sampling height in the tree, basic density, and growth ring width had no effect on the intrinsic permeability. An increase of latewood percentage in the growth rings resulted in an increase in longitudinal intrinsic permeability and a decrease in tangential intrinsic permeability. Radial flow seemed to be controlled by ray blockage in wetwood and normal heartwood, which may result in radial impermeability of wood. A poorly drained stand seemed to favor wetwood formation.


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