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Rehabilitation of Understocked Loblolly-Shortleaf Pine Stands--IV. Natural and Planted Seedling/Sapling Stands

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A 3- to 6-yr-old naturally regenerated even-aged loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) stand and a 5-yr-old loblolly pine plantation on good sites (SILob = 85 to 90 ft at 50 yr) were cut to density levels of 50, 90, 180, 270, and 360 seedlings and/or saplings/ac. Two pine release treatments (none and individual tree release with a herbicide) were applied to the natural stand, but were not imposed in the plantation because site preparation treatments were applied before planting. At 2, 5, and 10 yr after installation, plots were inventoried to determine: (1) the lowest threshold of seedling/sapling density that was feasible to manage, (2) the time required for poorly stocked seedling/sapling stands to reach an acceptable stocking level, and (3) whether release treatments would improve survival and growth of understocked, natural seedling/sapling stands. Results indicated that loblolly pine plantations on good sites having at least 180 trees/ac (30% stocking) reached an acceptable stocking level of 60% by age 10 and produced up to 1,500 ft³/ac (19 cd/ac) of merchantable volume by age 15. By this age, trees in plantations with 270 and 360 trees/ac displayed good form, but at densities of 180, 90, and 50 trees/ac the trees still retained large branches nearly to the ground. Natural stands having at least 180 trees/ac that were released from overtopping by hardwood at age 5 reached 60% stocking by age 15 but produced only 627 ft³/ac (8 cd/ac) of merchantable volume. When pines in the natural stand were not released, only plots with 360 trees/ac reached an acceptable 60% stocking level by age 15 but only produced 539 ft³/ac (7 cd/ac) of merchantable volume. The observed differences in recovery rates in the understocked pine stands principally reflected the levels of competing hardwoods. Results suggest that understocked, natural stands or plantations of pine seedlings/saplings with fewer than 180 trees/ac (less than 30% stocking), at age 5, should probably be liquidated and a new stand established unless the landowner is willing to sacrifice significant reductions in early volume production. South. J. Appl. For. 22(1)53-59.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Monticello, AR 71656

Publication date: February 1, 1998

More about this publication?
  • 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 Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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