Diameter/basal area increment equations for loblolly pine trees in cutover, site-prepared plantations

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The objective of this study was to develop diameter/basal area increment equations for loblolly pine trees in thinned and unthinned plantations on cutover, site-prepared areas. Results indicated that one set of coefficients was sufficient to estimate individual tree growth (for the three year period following thinning) on lightly thinned and heavily thinned plots. However, unthinned plots required a separate set of coefficients and therefore a separate equation to estimate growth.

Diameter growth was adequately explained by some form of the following regressor variables: pine basal area, hardwood basal area, initial age, initial diameter, average height of the dominant and codominant trees, and crown ratio ( optional). Transforming the dependent variable from a function of diameter to a similar function of basal area had no apparent effect on the precision of the predicted results.

Two alternative methods of predicting diameter growth were evaluated: (1) direct fitting of diameter growth, and (2) fitting a potential diameter growth equation and a modifier function. Even though the potential times modifier approach performed slightly better in terms of fitting the data, it provided unrealistic results at ages beyond the upper range of the data. After additional data are obtained at older ages, the potential times modifier approach may surpass the direct approach. However, at present, the direct diameter growth model was chosen as the final model form.