14C concentrations in the stem cellulose of a Sitka spruce from the Pacific coast of Washington respond to changes in atmospheric 14CO2 concentration within 5–6 weeks. δ14C values for cellulose were consistently lower than those of the corresponding clean troposphere during rapid increase in atmospheric 14C caused by nuclear weapons tests (1962–64). Possible reasons for this include: 1) a delay of days or weeks in incorporation of recent photosynthate, 2) the use of stored photosynthate, and 3) photo-assimilation of biospheric decay CO2. We estimate that the influence of process 1 is small or negligible. The respective contributions to the total carbon deposited as radial stem growth in our Sitka spruce then are 2) < 15% (possibly 0), and 3) 10%–23% (13%–28% if the possible effect of root respiration is included in the biosphere decay component). We plan to test this concept by looking for a vertical 14C gradient in the 1963 growth ring of a tree located in a dense forest canopy; we do not expect to find such a gradient in a similar tree from a strongly wind-washed location.