Using natural stand development patterns in artificial mixtures: a case study with cherrybark oak and sweetgum in east-central Mississippi, USA
Results from a long-term planted mixture of cherrybark oak (Quercus pagoda Raf.) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.) showed sweetgum taller in height and larger in diameter than cherrybark oak early in plantation development. By age 17 years, cherrybark oak was similar in height and diameter with sweetgum and by age 21 years was taller in height and larger in diameter than sweetgum depending on the spacing arrangement. The ascendance of cherrybark oak above sweetgum in an intimate plantation mixture confirms results from a stand reconstruction study of cherrybark oak and sweetgum development in natural stands. Afforestation of abandoned agricultural fields and pastures in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV) has received much attention in the past 20 years. A common afforestation prescription is to plant oaks on a 3.7 m x 3.7 m spacing. ecently, concern has been expressed about planting only oaks (767 seedlings ha-1) and the resulting effects of early intra-specific ompetition following canopy closure. Recommendations have included planting a greater number of species in intimate mixtures, but little is known about how such stands would develop. Establishment of mixed-species hardwood plantations in the LMAV should be based on known stand development patterns, whether from other plantation trials or documented patterns in natural stands.