Effects of Low-Input Vegetation Management on Pine-Hardwood Mixed Stands in the Northern Piedmont


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Virginia Tech


In an attempt to provide low-cost, low-input alternatives for regenerating pine-hardwood mixtures, this study examined several mechanisms that influence the growth of pine-hardwood stands. The Regeneration Alternatives Study is an ongoing experiment that was designed to gain biological and economical information concerning the growth and yield of loblolly pine and mixed hardwood species. Low-cost herbicide applications (stump treatment, basal stem spray, release, and soil spot release) were used to control competing vegetation during the study.

The four even-aged regeneration treatments applied to loblolly pine and mixed hardwood stands of this study had a significant effect on their growth. Loblolly pine growth increased and mixed hardwood growth decreased as the intensity of herbicide treatment increased for all age classes. In general, loblolly pine was more productive with more intense treatment applications on poorer sites following a growing season harvest. Hardwood species were more productive with less intense treatment applications on higher-quality sites following a dormant season harvest for all age classes. Loblolly pine planting following clearfelling, coupled with a herbicide stump and release treatment (treatment 4), resulted in the highest yields of loblolly pine, the greatest economic returns, and the greatest level of site utilization. However, treatment 4 also resulted in the lowest yield of mixed hardwoods and the lowest level of species richness. Loblolly pine planting following clearfelling, with (treatment 3) and without (treatment 2) a hardwood stump treatment application, resulted in a more even distribution of pines and hardwoods, depending on the treatment. Treatment 3 favored loblolly pine growth, especially following a growing season harvest on poor sites. Treatment 2 favored mixed hardwood growth, especially following a dormant season harvest on good sites. There were no differences between methods of release (basal spray or soil spot herbicide application). Economically, treatments 2 and 3 did not realize a profit on returns.

Pine yields, dbh, and basal area were all significantly greater following a summer season harvest as opposed to pine growth following a winter harvest with the same chemical treatments. The pine growth data indicated that less intense chemical treatments following a summer harvest can achieve the same or greater growth results than more intense chemical treatments following a winter harvest. The results of this study indicate a significant biological and economic tradeoff, depending on the level of hardwood control applied and the time of harvesting.



silviculture, regeneration, timber model, hardwood stand, herbicide, even-aged, harvest, pine stand, site quality