Artificial regeneration of northern red oak (Quercus rubra) on high quality mesic sites: early results characterizing nursery production, early juvenile growth, and acorn production
There is intense concern among forest resource managers about the rapid decline in the northern red oak (NRO) component of high quality mesic sites throughout the United States. Currently this versatile oak species, so important for its lumber value as well as its dietary staple status for hundreds of wildlife species, is being replaced by hardwood species that lack the economic and biodiversity potential of this species on the better mesic sites. Various modifications of the shelterwood and other natural regeneration procedures have been and are currently being utilized in attempts to increase the NRO component in stands. The success of these modifications has fallen short of the original expectations on high quality sites (site index 21 m, base age 50 years) when compared to results obtained on lower quality sites. Because the lower sites have little competing vegetation, a productive oak component can usually be maintained over multiple rotations using various seed tree and shelterwood methods of management. However, these sites have lower economic, wildlife, and biodiversity values. It has been suggested that if new reforestation technologies are not developed in the near future, this species may become endangered or absent on the better mesic sites in the eastern United States.