Growth and Regeneration of Eastern Redcedar Following Thinning in Southwester Missouri
Determine short-term impact of thinning on growth and natural regeneration of eastern redcedar.
Eastern redcedar is an ecologically and economically valuable tree species in Missouri. However, rarely is redcedar managed sustainably. Managers in southwest Missouri are interested in sustainably managing redcedar, but are uncertain about the best way to accomplish this goal. This pilot study was initiated to investigate the impacts of forest management on redcedar growth and regeneration with a goal of providing science-based information to managers seeking to manage redcedar forests sustainably.
Compared to the unthinned plot, basal area was approximately 50% lower in the heavy thinning and 30% lower in the light thinning immediately after treatment. Three years after treatment, basal area increased by 25% in heavy thinning and 12% in light thinning compared to 7% in unthinned plots. According to t-tests, mean diameter growth of residual redcedar trees was significantly greater in the heavy thinning plot than both light thinning and unthinned plots, and greater in the light thinning plot than the unthinned plot (p<0.05).
Management Implications: Thinning treatments similar to those implemented in this study can increase diameter growth of redcedar residual trees a few years after treatment. Although natural redcedar regeneration was more abundant in thinned plots, competitive hardwood regeneration was substantially more abundant. This suggests that thinning redcedar stands may accelerate succession to hardwood dominance. Regenerating similar redcedar stands will likely require more intensive silvicultural practices, such as: heavier overstory removal, site preparation, artificial regeneration, and subsequent release treatments to maintain free growth.