Early release improves long-term growth and development of direct-seeded nuttall oak saplingsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Early growth of bottomland oaks is typically slow, and many oaks eventually become overtopped by trees of other species. Removal of these larger competitors in a young stand might improve growth of the oaks and lead to more free-to-grow oaks as the stand matures. Release treatments were applied in 1980 to an 11-year-old, direct-seeded Nuttall oak (Quercus texana Buckl.) plantation on a Sharkey clay soil in west-central Mississippi. Treatments consisted of either cutting or deadening all nonoaks more than 15-feet tall, more than 20-feet tall, and more than 25-feet tall, plus an unreleased control. The average height of free-to-grow Nuttall oaks at the time of treatment was 15 feet. Response data were collected annually for the first 9 years after release, at 11 years after release, and at 30 years after release. Release treatments that removed competitors more than 15-feet tall and those that removed competitors more than 20-feet tall significantly increased stand basal area and quadratic mean diameter of the plantation but did not significantly increase either pulpwood or sawtimber volume per acre, even though differences among treatment means appeared to be large. Release treatments that removed competitors more than 20-feet tall were as effective but less costly than those treatments that removed competitors more than 15-feet tall.