Tropical sandalwood silviculture management to minimise fungal attack

Forest Products Commission

  • Project code: PRJ-004786

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Sunday, August 1, 2010

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

  • National Priority: NEPI-Industry building and connectivity


A number of fungi have been shown to enter the Tropical sandalwood (Santalum album) tree either from root infection via the primary wood or from wounds made during pruning or when branches are damaged. Following entry, fungi are attacking the heartwood causing a rotting disease and thus reducing the economic viability of the tree crop as this is where sandalwood oils should accumulate.
The immediate response to this knowledge is to review silvicultural practices to ensure that silvicultural practices minimise the opportunity for the fungal diseases to enter and proliferate within the tree.
The first aspect to be understood is to know when spores of fungi attacking the Tropical sandalwood are at their highest levels in the air and water. A monitoring system can be erected for year round monitoring and correlated to local weather and watering conditions.
Two types of pruning occur during the life of the sandalwood, root pruning through the re-contouring of flood irrigation channels and stem pruning to create an oil-containing tree bole. The effects of both activities on fungal entry will be investigated.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

Forest Products Commission

Objective Summary

This project will provide silviculture guidelines to minimise fungal attack risk to the Tropical sandalwood industry. The recommendations will cover:
• High risk periods of high spore count in the air and what weather events cause a greater presence of spores.
• High risk periods of high spore count in the water system and what irrigation events cause a greater presence of spores.
• Methods of branch pruning – branch size, optimum length of stump, sealing of pruning, chemical spraying after pruning the plantation.
• A pruning strategy of single verses multiple stems on heartwood production. On the one hand, multiple stems may produce less heartwood oil than a single stem, however, the reduced pruning may reduce fungal attack.
• The effect of root pruning on fungal presence in sandalwood trees.
• The risk of keeping infected trees within a plantation