Decline in commercial pine nut and kernel yield in Mediterranean stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) in Spain

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Calama R., Gordo J., Mutke S., Conde M., Madrigal G., Garriga E., Arias M.J., Piqué M., Gandía R., Montero G., Pardos M. (2020) - Decline in commercial pine nut and kernel yield in Mediterranean stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) in Spain - iForest

Cones of the Mediterranean stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) constitute one of the most relevant non-wood forest products collected in the Mediterranean for- ests, providing high value edible kernels. In the last years it has been observed a severe decline in the kernel-per-cone yield (kg of kernels obtained from a kg of fresh cones) through the whole area of the species. This decline has been associated with both ongoing climate change and the recent expansion over the Mediterranean Basin of the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occi- dentalis Heideman, an exotic pest which predates seeds of conifer species. In the present work we aimed to confirm and quantify the impact of this recent decline on pine nut and kernel production, identify the main factors provoking this reduction, and give evidence over causality by a potential biotic agent. We analysed recent and historical series of pine nut and kernel production ob- tained in the four main regions where Pinus pinea occurs in Spain. Our results showed a significant drop in the final kernel-per-cone yield on three of the four regions analysed, reaching reductions over 50% in the most affected ar- eas. We observed that this reduction is mainly associated with a significant and generalised drop in the kernel-per-nut yield (kg of kernels per kg of pine nuts in shell), triggered by an increment in the rate of damaged pine nuts and, to a lesser extent, a reduction in the number of pine nuts per cone. The prevalence of this reduction on kernel-per-cone yield over different years and provenances with contrasting climate reinforces the hypothesis of the implica- tion of a biotic factor which can be aggravated on extreme drought years.

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