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Development of single-storied mixtures of Norway spruce and birch in Southern Sweden

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In a stand with planted Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and naturally regenerated birch (Betula pendula Roth and B. pubescens Ehrh.) in southern Sweden, the proportion of birch was reduced in 0.1-ha plots at pre-commercial thinning to 0%, 20% or 50% of the total stem number (2000-2500 stems ha-1 after the thinning). The growth of both species was surveyed 4 and 10 years later. No significant between-treatment differences were observed on either occasion in total yield or in spruce diameter (apart from a more negative skewness of the diameter distribution of Norway spruce in the mixture with 50% birch compared to pure spruce). Birch retained its initial advantage in dominant height (of about 2 m) throughout the 10-year measurement period; hence, height growth rates of Norway spruce and birch were very similar. After three, four and 10 growing seasons, whipping damage to Norway spruce caused by birch was registered in the 20% and 50% birch mixtures, in which the proportions of damaged spruces were found to be similar, with 17% and 15% of damaged trees at the last inventory, respectively. In addition, simulations of the stands' development from the time of the last measurement until final felling at a total age of 66 years indicated that growth, yield and net present value decrease with increasing birch proportion, but if the proportion of birch removed in subsequent thinnings is increased, the between-treatment differences are reduced.
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Keywords: Betula spp; Picea abies; economic outcome; mixed stands; whipping damage; yield

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden 2: SODRA, Skogsudden, Vaxjo, Sweden

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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