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Forests 2015, 6(10), 3779-3798; doi:10.3390/f6103779

Effects of Visual Grading on Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra L.) Seedlings Planted in Two Shelterwood Stands on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, USA

1
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Rm 274 Ellington Plant Science Building, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
2
Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, The University of Tennessee Rm 274 Ellington Plant Science Building, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
3
Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station, 730-D Cook Ave, Huntsville, AL 35801, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eric J. Jokela
Received: 28 July 2015 / Revised: 23 September 2015 / Accepted: 16 October 2015 / Published: 21 October 2015
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Abstract

Artificial regeneration of oak has been generally unsuccessful in maintaining the oak component in productive upland forests of eastern North America. We tested visual grading effects on quality-grown northern red oak (Quercus rubra) seedlings planted in two submesic stands on the Cumberland Plateau escarpment of Tennessee, USA. Seedlings were grown for one year using advanced fertilization and irrigation protocols to increase overall size of seedlings, but large variability in size was still evident. Seedlings were divided into two grades prior to planting. The “standard” grade represented seedlings that had undergone a light culling, and the “premium” grade represented the highest quality seedlings. Seven years after planting in a midstory-removal stand, 50 percent of trees survived, growth was negligible, and seedling grade had no effect on survival and yearly growth. In a shelterwood harvest stand, premium grade seedlings had taller height and larger basal diameter (BD) (241 cm and 29.5 mm, respectively) compared to standard seedlings (201 cm and 25.9 mm, respectively), and a two-year height growth advantage was achieved by planting premium grade compared to standard grade seedlings. Competitive ability and planting shock were similar between grades, and we postulate that an exceptional drought and large size variability in both grades equalized response. While our findings should be confirmed through additional testing, they suggest currently accepted seedling quality standards for northern red oak should be refined to improve regeneration efforts on productive sites in the eastern United States. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial regeneration; competitive ability; dominance; midstory removal; planting shock; seedling quality; shelterwood harvest; stem dieback artificial regeneration; competitive ability; dominance; midstory removal; planting shock; seedling quality; shelterwood harvest; stem dieback
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Clark, S.L.; Schlarbaum, S.E.; Schweitzer, C.J. Effects of Visual Grading on Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra L.) Seedlings Planted in Two Shelterwood Stands on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, USA. Forests 2015, 6, 3779-3798.

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