Financial Performance of Mixed-Age Naturally Regenerated Loblolly-Hardwood Stands in the South Central United States
To estimate the financial performance of a natural mixed species and mixed-age management in the loblolly-pine forest type, we examined 991 FIA plots in the south central states. The plots were of the loblolly pine forest type, mixed-age, and had been regenerated naturally. We gauged the financial performance of each plot from the equivalent annual income (EAI) produced by growth and harvest, between two successive inventories. The real price EAI (REAI) measured the financial performance based on the real price change, net of inflation, between surveys. The constant price EAI (CEAI) measured stand productivity at prices at the time of the first survey. Thus, the REAI is a measure of real economic performance, including timber growth and price changes. In contrast, the CEAI is a quantity index of timber growth, the growth of each product being weighted by its price. During the period 1977-1994, the main determinant of the REAI was the price change. Due to an overall favorable price trend, the mean REAI ($158 ha-1 year-1) was much greater than the mean CEAI ($24 ha-1 year-1). Due to increasing prices, the best performing plots had very high stocking levels. Thus, the best financial strategy was to hold the stock, making the opportunity cost of conservation negative. Instead, CEAI tended to be lower on stands with high basal area, and higher in stands with many trees, a low share of hardwoods, and many trees near sawtimber size.