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Stand Structure and Composition 32 Years after Precommercial Thinning Treatments in a Mixed Northern Conifer Stand in Central Maine

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Abstract:

The effects of four precommercial thinning (PCT) treatments on an even-aged northern conifer stand in Maine were investigated by examining stand structure and composition 32 years after treatment. Replicated treatments applied in 1976 included: (1) control (no PCT), (2) row thinning (rowthin; 5-ft-wide row removal with 3-ft-wide residual strips), (3) row thinning with crop tree release (rowthin+CTR; 5-ft-wide row removal with crop tree release at 8-ft intervals in 3-ft-wide residual strips), and (4) crop tree release (CTR; release of selected crop trees at 8×8-ft intervals). PCT plots had more large trees and fewer small trees than the control in 2008. There were no other significant differences between the rowthin and control. The rowthin+CTR and CTR treatments had lower total and hardwood basal area (BA) and higher merchantable conifer BA than the control. CTR also resulted in more red spruce (Picea rubens [Sarg.]) and less balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.]) than the other treatments. Although stand structures for rowthin+CTR and CTR were similar, the percentage of spruce in CTR was greater. Although the less-intensive rowthin+CTR treatment may provide many of the same benefits as CTR, the latter would be the preferred treatment if increasing the spruce component of a stand is an objective. Overall, early thinning treatments were found to have long-term effects on key stand attributes, even more than 30 years after treatment in areas with mixed species composition and moderate site potential.

Keywords: Acadian Forest; Penobscot Experimental Forest; balsam fir; crop tree release; red spruce

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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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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