Economic comparisons of thinning from above and below in Loblolly Pine plantations using dynamic programming

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Virginia Tech


Thinning from above and below were compared using an economic optimizing dynamic program, FORTE (Arthaud 1986). Economically optimal (net present value maximizing) thinning regime and rotation age were determined for benchmark economic and model inputs. Sensitivity of net present value and optimal management regime were tested for varying interest rates (6 or 8%), site indexes (50, 60 and 70, base 25 years), fixed and variable thinning costs, planting density (440, 680 and 910 trees per acre), stumpage prices and thinning type. Given the same assumptions, thinning from below consistently provided the higher net present value for the optimal regime than thinning from above. For the benchmark assumptions, both thinning types had two thinnings in their optimal regimes. Optimal rotation age and thinning timings occur later when thinning from above. Both thinning types provided higher net present values than not thinning under all conditions except pulpwood management.