Mass loss and nutrient concentrations of northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and white oak (Q. alba) wood stakes were measured 30 months after their burial in the upper 10 cm of soil in a regenerating forest after harvesting and soil disturbance. Disturbance treatments were two levels of organic matter (OM) removal (only merchantable logs removed or removal of all woody material plus forest floor) with two levels of soil compaction (C), not compacted and severely compacted. Treatments were arranged in a factorial design with each treatment plot split with and without vegetation control (VC). The VC treatment increased the northern red oak stake decomposition by 32 percent and increased nitrogen and sulfur concentrations in northern red oak and white oak stakes. The VC treatment also increased phosphorus and calcium concentrations in white oak stakes, even though decomposition of these stakes was nominal and not statistically significant. Findings suggest that postharvesting efforts to reduce competition during forest regeneration will have a greater impact on belowground woody debris decomposition and nutrient availability than do OM removal and C in xeric, low fertility oak-hickory and oak-pine ecosystems in the Central Hardwood region.