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Influences of Conventional and Low-Density Thinning on the Lower Bole Taper and Volume Growth of Eastern White Pine

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Throughout the northeastern United States, thinning is a common management practice in stands of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.), but foresters lack clear information as to whether conventional B-line or low-density thinning will best achieve their growth and financial objectives. Conventional management consists primarily of light crown thinning, whereas low-density management uses heavy crown thinning to isolate selected crop trees. To better inform silviculturists of the effects of these thinning regimes on volume growth and taper of white pine, we compared the lower bole taper—quantified as Girard form class (GFC)—and volume growth between the two thinning regimes and a nonthinned control. Over the 17-year study period, GFC increased among all treatments from an overall average of 0.77 ± 0.01 (±SE) to 0.82 ± 0.00. Trees under the B-line thinning regime had the most taper (lowest GFC), owing to a thinning-induced growth response at breast height but not at the top of the butt log. Low-density thinning, on the other hand, resulted in substantially larger, less tapered butt logs with significantly higher growth rates at both breast height and the top of the butt log. The volume growth of low-density trees was significantly higher than that of trees in the other treatments. At the stand level, however, the overall volume growth of the low-density treatment was significantly lower than that of the B-line treatment. Thus, this study reveals that when implementing low-density thinning, there is a tradeoff between overall stand growth and larger, less tapered individual trees.
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Keywords: Girard form class; Pinus strobus; crop-tree management; silviculture; taper equations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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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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