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Epicormic Branches Affect Lumber Grade and Value in Willow Oak

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A case study was conducted in a 50-yr-old bottomland oak stand in central Alabama to investigate the relationship between epicormic branches and lumber grade and value in willow oak (Quercus phellos L.). The stand had been thinned from below 7–10 yr earlier, resulting in a wide variety of epicormic branch conditions on the residual trees. A sample of 41 willow oak trees was selected before the stand was clearcut in late 1991. All merchantable logs in each tree were graded prior to felling. Average dbh of sampled trees was 19.1 in. Each tree averaged 9.5 epicormic branches on the sawlog portion of the bole. From these 41 trees, a random sample of 57 logs (31 butt logs and 26 upper logs) was shipped to a sawmill where they were sawn into lumber and graded. Epicormic branching had a large detrimental effect on log grade of individual trees. In general, as few as five epicormic branches somewhat evenly distributed on a 16 ft log was enough to cause a reduction in log grade. More importantly, defects caused by epicormic branches had a serious effect on lumber grade, particularly in the higher grades. Over 50% of the lumber volume that would have been graded as either First and Seconds or Select in the absence of epicormic branches was downgraded to No. 1 Common or below due to defects caused by epicormic branches. Based on lumber prices prevailing at the time of the study, defects caused by epicormic branches resulted in a 13% reduction in the value of the lumber produced in the final harvest. South. J. Appl. For. 25(3):136–141.

Keywords: Epicormic branches; Quercus phellos; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; log grade; lumber grade; lumber value; natural resource management; natural resources; thinning; willow oak

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Burkhardt/Hardwood Associates, 4418 Fisher Ferry Rd., Vicksburg, MS, 39180

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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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 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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