Restoration Treatments for the Post-Hurricane Recovery of Longleaf Pine
Hurricane Ivan's destructive force leveled some research plots in the Escambia Experimental Forest in southern Alabama. Scientists decided to use these same plots to launch a new research study exploring the use of herbicides on longleaf pine recovery from the hurricane's disturbance.
Since 2004, the scientists have been testing several combinations of site preparation treatments to assess the efficiency with which they aid in the recovery. Groups of plots were treated with herbicide, burned, planted, and then fertilized. Herbicide treatment of hexazinone, triclopyr, or imazapyr for competition control, and fertilizer treatments of phosphorus and potassium to stimulate growth of planted longleaf pine seedlings are being evaluated against untreated control plots. All plots were initially burned with prescribed fire to reduce logging slash and will be burned once every 3 years.
Early findings indicate hardwood trees and shrubs expand quickly in open areas and dominate pine seedlings unless controlled with herbicide. Although prescribed burning alone can control hardwoods effectively beneath the forest canopy, in open areas, the abundance of light and scarcity of fine fuel to support sufficiently intense prescribed fires is less effective for controlling hardwoods than the combination of a single herbicide application followed by periodic surface fire. Understanding such relationships will provide forest managers with useful approaches for promptly restoring longleaf pine after hurricane disturbance and salvage logging.
Forest Service Partners