A Comparison of Large-Scale Reforestation Techniques Commonly Used on Abandoned Fields in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Vally
Reforesting abandoned land in the lower Mississippi alluvial valley has attracted heightened attention. Currently, federal cost share programs, such as the Wetland Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Program, are enticing landowners to consider reforesting lands that are marginally productive for agriculture. This study examined four reforestation techniques commonly used in the area. These techniques were applied operationally, following methods used under federal reforestation programs. Four techniques were implemented on 8.1-ha blocks in a completely randomized design with three replications. The entire study site was prepared by disking following soybean harvest in the fall of 1994. The techniques tested were: (1) direct seeding Nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii Palmer) acorns (2) plantfng 1-0 bareroot Nuttall oak seedlings (3) establishing a nurse crop of eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marsh.) and then underplanting 1-0 bareroot Nuttall oak seedlings (4) control (natural succession). All techniques were implemented by April 1995, except the underplanted oaks, which were planted following two growing seasons for the cottonwood (oak underplanted in March 1997). Results of this study are reported for 3 years of survival and growth of the seed germinants and seedlings, for cottonwood survival and growth, and interplanted oak survival and growth following 1 year. Natural invasion onto the site is also discussed. Comparisons are made among the four reforestation techniques, with ideas for incorporating this information into the administration of federal cost share reforestation programs.