We found promising success for black walnut (Juglans nigra
planted on a legacy surface mine. Our results indicate that direct seeding can be an effective restoration method, and that shelters may not be needed. Background and Objectives:
Reforestation in the Appalachian coalfields has primarily relied on the planting of nursery stock late in the dormant season. This study examined the use of direct seeding during the fall, a practice that, if successful, could both reduce costs of planting and open up a new season for reforestation planting. Black walnut is of particular value for wildlife habitats, timber value, and even human nutrition. In addition, it normally occurs in diverse forests with rich soils of the region. Therefore, establishment on previously surface-mined lands may indicate a positive successional trajectory and resilience. Materials and Methods:
This study took place in eastern Kentucky, USA, on a site that was surface mined from 1996 to 2000 and subsequently reclaimed as a wildlife habitat. In 2010, the site was decompacted according to the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA) by deep ripping with a bulldozer, and in November 2011, a 2 × 2 factorial experiment was initiated to compare the growth of walnut trees planted either by seed or as one-year seedlings, and either with or without tree shelters. Each treatment (four total: Unsheltered Seedling, Sheltered Seedling, Unsheltered Seed, and Sheltered Seed) had three replicate plots of 17 × 9 m, with 50 seeds or seedlings planted per plot. Measurements (survival, height, diameter, and volume) were made in 2012, 2013, and 2016. Effects of planting type and shelter presence, as well as their interaction, were analyzed using linear mixed models. Results:
Planting type was significant for all measurements in the first two years (seedlings > seed), but this difference was largely diminished by 2016. There was a significant interaction of the two main effects, such that shelters benefited (or did not affect) those trees planted as seedlings, but hindered those planted from seed.
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