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Title: Response of ponderosa pine stands to pre-commercial thinning on Nez Perce and Spokane Tribal forests in the Inland Northwest, USA

Author: Ferguson, Dennis E.; Byrne, John C.; Wykoff, William R.; Kummet, Brian; Hensold, Ted;

Date: 2011

Source: Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-88. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 33 p.

Publication Series: Research Paper (RP)

Description: Stands of dense, natural ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa) regeneration were operationally, precommercially thinned at seven sites - four on Nez Perce Tribal lands in northern Idaho and three on Spokane Tribal lands in eastern Washington. Five spacing treatments were studied - control (no thinning), 5x5 ft, 7x7 ft, 10x10 ft, and 14x14 ft. Sample trees were measured pre- and post-thinning, 3 yrs after thinning, and 5 yrs after thinning, starting in 1997 (Nez Perce sites) and 1998 (Spokane sites). Models of diameter and height growth, change in crown ratio and height to crown base, and probability of western pine shoot borer (Eucosma sonomana Kearfott) infestation were developed. Little mortality occurred after thinning, and the trees that died had small crowns. Diameter growth for all of the spacings was significantly different, with widely spaced trees growing faster than narrowly spaced trees. Trees with larger initial diameters or crown ratios had faster post-thinning diameter growth. Spacing had no influence on height growth. Height growth increased with increasing initial tree size, larger crown ratios, and increasing pre-thinning height growth, but decreased with increasing post-thin basal area. Height/diameter ratios (an indication of tree slenderness and stability) increased over time on the narrower spacings, indicating trees were still crowded. We found that thinnings of at least 10x10 ft are needed to stimulate a change in height/diameter ratio. Wider spacings (10x10 ft and 14x14 ft) resulted in lengthening crowns because height to crown base remained closer to the ground, which had implications for fire management. Shoot borer damage occurred on about one-fourth of the sample trees and was negatively correlated with elevation and positively correlated with tree vigor. There was no dramatic non-tree vegetation response to the thinnings, which may be related to herbivory or the lack of ground disturbance from the thinning operations.

Keywords: Pinus ponderosa, height growth, diameter growth, height/diameter ratios, thinning from below, crown ratios, competing vegetation

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Ferguson, Dennis E.; Byrne, John C.; Wykoff, William R.; Kummet, Brian; Hensold, Ted. 2011. Response of ponderosa pine stands to pre-commercial thinning on Nez Perce and Spokane Tribal forests in the Inland Northwest, USA. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-88. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 33 p.

 


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