This study examines tree and stand response to a gradient of commercial thinning intensities and nitrogen fertilization (200 kg N ha−1
) in nine jack pine (Pinus banksiana
) stands of Eastern Canada over a period of 14 years. Thinning intensity ranged from 0% basal area removal in control plots to 64% in thinned plots. Tree diameter increment, absolute and relative volume increment and mean volume increased with thinning intensity and were higher in fertilized plots. Individual tree response depended on tree diameter, with smallest trees exhibiting highest relative volume increment to thinning intensity. Stand basal area increment was positively associated to initial stand basal area and negatively to stand age. In thinned and fertilized plots, stand volume increment was higher and natural mortality lower than in fertilized only and unfertilized control plots over the 5–14 year period after thinning. However, the positive effect of fertilization on tree volume increment decreased with thinning intensity. Despite positive individual tree growth responses to thinning and fertilization, residual stand volume increment decreased with increased thinning intensity in both fertilized and unfertilized plots. While total cumulative stand volume (harvested + residual) also decreased with thinning intensity in unfertilized plots, comparable total volumes were observed in fertilized + thinned and unthinned control plots. Nitrogen fertilization in the years following commercial thinning enhanced the benefit of thinning on these relatively poor sites by increasing tree diameter growth, lowering mortality, and increasing total stand merchantable volume compared to unfertilized thinned stands.
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