Long-term precommercial thinning effects on Larix occidentalis (western larch) tree and stand characteristics

Michael S. Schaedel, Andrew J. Larson, David L.R. Affleck, R. Travis Belote, John M. Goodburn, David K. Wright, Elaine Kennedy Sutherland

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    Precommercial thinning (PCT) is used to increase tree size and shorten harvest rotation time. Short-term results from PCT studies often show a trade-off between individual-tree growth and net stand yield, while longer-term effects of PCT on tree growth and stand yield are less well documented. We used a 54-year-old PCT study to test long-term effects of forest density and thinning schedules on stand yield and tree-level characteristics in even-aged western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) stands. The study has three target densities (494, 890, and 1680 trees.ha-1) crossed with three thinning schedules (target density achieved through one, two, or four entries). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and linear contrasts were used to test the effects of density and number of entries on tree- and stand-level attributes. Thinning before stand age 10 years leads to long-term constant yield (219.0-269.5 m3.ha-1; P > 0.05) across the tested densities. We also found constant volume growth across stand densities during the most recent measurement interval (5.42-6.41 m3.ha-1.year-1; P > 0.05). Number of entries did not affect any tree- or stand-level attribute. The primary effect of early PCT is to control whether wood volume and growth are concentrated on few large, stable trees or spread over many small, unstable trees.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)861-874
    Number of pages14
    JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 2017


    • Competition
    • Density management
    • Growth and yield
    • Stand density
    • Stand dynamics


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