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Influence of Cutting Method on Stand Growth in Sawtimber Oak Stands

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Many upland oak forests in the eastern United States are approaching economic and biological maturity. A study was established in 1981–1984 in three central Connecticut forests to examine the effects of six distinct cutting methods (shelterwood, diameter limit, multiaged crop tree, high grading, silvicultural clearcut, forest preserve) on stand growth and dynamics in sawtimber oak stands. Board-foot volumes (International 1/4) averaged 8.4 mbf/ac before the initial harvest. Sixty-nine percent of sawtimber trees had butt-log grades of 2 or better. Volume growth was significantly lower on high grading plots (36 bf/ac/year) than on the forest preserve, diameter limit, shelterwood, and multiaged crop tree plots (∼214 bf/ac/year) through two cutting cycles. Total board-foot yield (final volumes plus harvested volumes) for the silvicultural clearcut plots (7.3 mbf/ac) was significantly lower than for uncut, shelterwood, and diameter limit cuts, 12.3, 12.5, and 13.0 mbf/ac, respectively. This study showed that three distinct cutting methods: shelterwood, multiaged crop tree, and forest preserve resulted in similar stand volume growth rates in sawtimber oak stands. The first two methods can be used by landowners who wish to generate income to offset expenses. The choice will depend on the aesthetic and regeneration goals of the landowner. Diameter-limit cutting also had similar volume rates, but it was necessary to lower the diameter limits for the second cutting cycle to maintain economically viable harvests. As a consequence, residual stand structure after the second cutting cycle was similar to that for the high grading plots. Although high grading had the highest harvested volume during the first cutting cycle, low quality of residual trees and depressed stand growth rates indicate it is not a viable option for long-term forest management.
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Keywords: Volume growth; diameter limit; grade change; high grading; shelterwood

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forestry and Horticulture The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station New Haven CT 06504-1106 2: Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station New Haven CT 06504-1106

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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