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The Devil is in the Details for Regeneration Success in Mixed-oak Forests

Photo of Tree regeneration 5 years after herciide treatment and shelterwood harvest. USDA Forest Service.Tree regeneration 5 years after herciide treatment and shelterwood harvest. USDA Forest Service.Snapshot : To improve oak regeneration, Forest Service scientists are studying shelterwood harvest with herbicide and prescribed fire treatments. Although large oak seedlings have developed after the partial harvest, competition from non-oak saplings is intense even after herbicide treatment. The combined use of herbicide and fire is being evaluated.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Hutchinson, Todd 
Research Location : Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 870

Summary

Shade-tolerant trees such as maples have become abundant in the midstory and understory of mixed-oak forests, creating heavy shade on the forest floor and reducing growth and survival of oak seedlings, which require moderate to high levels of light. To improve oak regeneration, Forst Service scientists are testing the effectiveness of partial shelterwood harvest, herbicide treatment of midstory trees (to limit resprouting), and prescribed fire in the hill country of southern Ohio. Five years after the shelterwood harvest created high light levels in the understory, about 50 percent of the landscape had become adequately stocked with larger oaks (greater than 2 feet tall). However, these oaks were often overtopped by saplings of other species, regardless of whether herbicide was applied before harvest. The researchers concluded that the herbicide treatment alone was insufficient to reduce the non-oak competition due to the abundance of smaller non-oak saplings.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Joanne Rebbeck, NRS-02
  • Susan Stout, NRS-02
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry

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