Six Decades of Growth and Yield and Financial Return in a Silviculture Experiment in Northern Hardwoods

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The Cutting Methods Study at the Ford Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, was established in 1956 and has been maintained continuously on a 10-year cycle. Methods consist of three diameter limits (DL; 13, 30, and 41 cm), single-Tree selection to three residual basal area limits (STS; 11, 16, and 21 m2ha-1), and light improvement (LI) focused on improving tree grade. Long-Term results show that the 41 cm DL produced the greatest managed forest value and cumulative sawlog production, followed by the STS to 11 m2ha-1 residual basal area. STS treatments and LI were uniformly superior at improving standing tree grade. In contrast, treatments that emphasize removal of large diameter trees while retaining moderate residual basal area (the 41 cm DL and 11 m2ha-1 STS) produced the largest harvest volumes of high-grade sawlogs, driving financial performance. Stand density has declined in all treatments except the 30 and 41 cm DL, where it has increased, and these two treatments have larger abundance of saplings and poles. Alternative partial cutting methods such as selection to lower residual basal areas and medium-intensity diameter-limit cuts thus may provide greater financial returns and higher average quality, and could have implications on regeneration and long-Term sustainability.

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Forest Science