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Growth Response of Pitch × Loblolly Pine Hybrids Following Crown Touching Release

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The 13 yr growth response of pitch × loblolly pine hybrids following a crown touching release conducted at age 7 in the Virginia Piedmont was evaluated. Growth of crop trees was related to the degree of crown release as measured by the free-to-grow (FTG) rating that ranged from 0 (no release) to 4 (complete release on all sides). Diameter growth of the released crop trees (FTG ≥ 3) was 63% greater than diameter growth in nonreleased trees (FTG < 3), while height growth was 9% greater. At age 20, the average dbh of the crop trees was 10.3 in., while the average dbh of the nonreleased trees was 7.8 in. The live crown ratio in the crop trees was significantly greater than in the nonreleased trees (47% vs. 38%), which contributed to the growth response. However, stem quality of the crop trees was poorer than in the nonreleased trees, due to the persistence of branches on the lower bole. These results suggest that sawtimber size pitch × loblolly hybrid pines can be grown in a short rotation if adequate growing space is provided.
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Keywords: Crop tree management; free to grow (FTG); progeny trial; sawtimber

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Department of Forestry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, 24061,

Publication date: 2003-12-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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