Loblolly Pine Growth and Competition Response to Varied Chemical Site Preparation Treatments 14 Years After Establishment in the Piedmont of Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Chemical site preparation is used to enhance the productivity of loblolly pine plantations; however, it is most often combined with other methods and/or chemical release, and has been studied little on its own. Our study, conducted in the Virginia piedmont, compares the effects of various site preparation applications of imazapyr and their timings (July 23rd, September 3rd, and October 1st 2005) against a year-two chemical release (September 12th 2007), and an untreated check, all following a site preparation burn (June 15, 2005). Testing for additive effects, site preparation treatments were conducted with and without, sulfometuron methyl (SMAX) which targets herbaceous vegetation. Half of all treatments, including the check and release, received a year-one weed control treatment (H) of imazapyr and SMAX. Pines were measured every few years, including the latest measurement in year 14 (2019). Competing hardwood vegetation basal area was measured in year 14. All site preparation treatments reduced competition levels compared to the check, and an inverse relationship exists between competition level and pine volume. Adding SMAX resulted in less effective competition control, but had little effect on pine volumes. Adding H decreased average competition levels, and increased pine volumes. H treatments had the most effect at improving early season (July) applications. September and October treatments generally had more effect than July and the year-two release at controlling competing vegetation, and also showed higher individual pine tree volumes than all other treatments. Chemical site preparation treatments, even performed alone, appear to be valid means of improving pine stands.



Loblolly pine, silviculture, chemical site preparation, herbicide, vegetation control, imazapyr, sulfometuron methyl, plantation