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A Height Growth Model and Associated Growth Intercept Models for Estimating Site Index in Black Spruce (Picea mariana Mill. B.S.P.) Plantations in Northern Ontario, Canada

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Site quality is a key component of growth and yield models because height growth rates are known to be influenced by available site resources. Accurate prediction of future growth and yield requires site quality information for both plantations and natural stands. The forest industry in northern Ontario relies on high-quality wood and fiber from black spruce (Picea mariana Mill. B.S.P.); therefore, these tools are essential to ensure sustainable forest management. Although there are site index (SI) models for natural-origin black spruce stands in northern Ontario, models for estimating site quality of young black spruce plantations have not been developed. We used stem analysis data collected from 62 plantations (>40 years of age) of pure black spruce across northern Ontario to develop height growth, SI, and variable growth intercept models. The distinct height growth patterns we observed may be attributed to early silvicultural treatments (site preparation and herbicide) in plantations allowing black spruce trees to attain breast height (1.3 m) faster than in fire-origin stands in northern Ontario. Our models can be used to estimate site quality of black spruce plantations, a key consideration for silviculture and forest management planning. We also compare our managed stand SI model to one we developed from a comparable subset of data from black spruce growing in unmanaged stands and propose a method to assign an SI with a common base age to pure upland black spruce stands regardless of origin.
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Keywords: black spruce; growth intercept; natural stand; plantation; site index

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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