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Height development of Betula pubescens following precommercial thinning by breaking or cutting the treetops in different seasons

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Topping, i.e. cutting or breaking the treetops of secondary stems, may be an attractive alternative to traditional precommercial thinning. The survival and height development of downy birch ( Betula pubescens Ehrh.) after topping were examined over three growing seasons in two dense, naturally regenerated stands, 3.1–3.5 m high, in northern Sweden. The topping was performed in experiments with a two-factor randomized complete block design, as follows. Three treatments were applied to individual secondary stems (top-breaking at half the sample tree mean height, top-cutting at half the sample tree mean height, and traditional cutting just above ground) at each of three times: winter, spring and summer (in frozen, dormant and growing conditions, respectively). A control (no treatment) was also included. The survival rate was lowest for traditionally cut stems and for stems cut in growing conditions. Height development after three growing seasons was significantly affected by time of treatment, the height growth being lowest after treatment in growing conditions, but not by treatment. Height growth of control stems was not significantly different from height growth in any combination of treatment and time of treatment, after three growing seasons. However, control stems had the greatest leading shoot length in the third growing season.

Keywords: Cleaning; downy birch; height increment; leading shoot length; survival; topping

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Silviculture, Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU), Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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