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What is Ahead for Intensive Pine Plantation Silviculture in the South?

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The southeastern United States produces more industrial timber than any other region of the world from a forest base that includes almost one-half of the world's industrial forest plantations. Although current growth rates are substantially lower than in many other forest plantation areas in the world, growth rates exceeding 10 tons/acre/year are biologically possible and financially attractive in the region. Dramatic gains in growth and value became possible as we recognized that intensive plantation silviculture is like agriculture: Both the plant and the soil need to be actively managed to optimize value. Optimizing value starts with planting high-quality seedlings or plantlets from the best families of the right species to a site where competing vegetation has been suppressed and where the soil may have been tilled and/or fertilized to improve early tree growth. In most cases, these treatments will need to be followed by competing vegetation suppression, repeated nutrient additions, thinning, and pruning – treatments that provide needed resources to the appropriate number of quality crop trees. Several challenges remain to implement the silvicultural systems needed to fully realize the potential value of our plantations in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner; however, looking into the future, we see clonal plantations, whole rotation resource management regimes, use of spatially explicit spectral reflectance data as a major information source, active management to minimize insect and disease losses, and more attention to growing wood for specific products. South. J. Appl. For. 29(2):62–69.

Keywords: Southern pine; environmental management; fertilization; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; productivity; tillage; vegetation management

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forestry North Carolina State University Raleigh NC 27695 Phone: (919) 513-4043;, Fax: (919) 515-6193, Email: 2: Department of Forestry Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg VA 24061 3: Weyerhaeuser Co. New Bern NC 28563-1391

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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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