Planting Density Impacts on Slash Pine Stand
Growth, Yield, Product Class Distribution and
E. David Dickens, Associate Professor; and
Rodney E. Will, Assistant Professor of Forest
Productivity and Tree Physiology, Daniel B.
Warnell School of Forest Resources, The University
of Georgia, Statesboro, GA 30460, and Athens,
The establishment phase is a very critical
decision-making phase in the life of a pine
plantation. Key choices
in site preparation intensity and type, pre-plant
competition control, species selection, seedling
genetic quality and size, fertilization, and
first year post plant herbaceous weed control
have large and long lasting effects on wood
yields, rotation length, and products grown.
Within a level of forest management, planting
density, spacing configuration, and subsequent
survival rate can affect stand access, time
of canopy closure, time to first pine straw
harvest, age to first thinning, number of thinnings,
and product class distributions over time. Initially,
higher planting densities yield more volume.
Eventually, without thinning, stand volumes
converge between lower and higher initial stand
densities. The more intensive the management
and the higher the site productivity the sooner
this convergence occurs. An attractive initial
spacing for slash pine ( Pinus elliottii
Engelm. var. elliottii) may not be so attractive
for loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda, L.)
or longleaf ( Pinus palustris, Mill.).
This is due to differences in self-pruning characteristics,
branch base diameter, number of branches, branch
angle, or potential survival differences by
species on certain sites. This paper will discuss
the impacts of planting density under different
levels of site productivity and management on
slash pine stand biology, yields, and economic
returns using several long-term studies.