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A Numerical Rating System for Crown Classes of Southern Hardwoods

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A numerical rating system to delineate crown classes of southern hardwoods is described. The system is based on four criteria: (1) amount of direct sunlight from above, (2) amount of direct sunlight from the sides, (3) crown balance, and (4) relative crown size. The total point value assigned places the tree within one of the four crown classes. The rating system can be used to train inexperienced hardwood foresters and should give experienced foresters a better grasp of those factors important in hardwood crown classification. Time required to evaluate a tree varies by tree, by stand conditions, and by observer, but experienced users of the system can easily rate most trees in 30–45 seconds. The rating system is particularly useful in situations where an individual tree appears to be borderline between two crown classes. For researchers, the system provides: (1) an expression of individual-tree crown characteristics, and (2) documentation of changes in crown position and condition. In two tests comparing the numerical rating system with the conventional crown classification system, use of the rating system consistently improved the ability of participants to correctly identify crown classes. Dominant and suppressed trees were the easiest to assess with the numerical rating system, whereas codominant and intermediate trees were the most difficult. Agreement between participants and experts in identification of crown classes increased with the level of the participants' forestry knowledge and experience. In one test, a group of participants attending a continuing-education hardwood shortcourse, but with little to moderate hardwood experience, correctly identified the crown class of 78% of the trees after only 1 hr of training. South. J. Appl. For. 25(4):154–158.
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Keywords: Crown class; crown classification; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; southern hardwoods

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Burkhardt/Hardwood Associates, 4418 Fisher Ferry Rd., Vicksburg, MS, 39180 2: USDA Forest Service (retired), P.O. Box 8718 Hot Springs Village, AR, 71909 3: Mississippi State University (retired), 72 Second St., Ashland, MS, 38603

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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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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