Silvicultural systems for southern bottomland hardwood forests
Silvicultural systems integrate both regeneration and intermediate operations in an orderly process for managing forest stands. The clearcutting method of regeneration favors the development of species that are moderately intolerant to intolerant of shade. In fact, clearcutting is the most proven and widely used method of successfully regenerating bottomland oak species in the South. The seed-tree method of regeneration favors the establishment of light-seeded species. Mechanical soil scarification may be necessary if the desired species requires bare mineral soil for establishment. The shelterwood method of regeneration can provide for the development of heavy-seeded species, but has produced highly variable results with southern bottomland oaks. The single-tree selection method of regeneration favors the development of shade-tolerant species. When single-tree selection is applied repeatedly to stands containing commercially valuable shade-intolerant species, composition will gradually shift to less-valuable, more-tolerant species. Consequently, the single-tree selection method of regeneration is not recommended for any commercially valuable bottomland hardwood tree species. Group selection, in its strictest application, creates only small openings that usually fail to allow sufficient light to the forest floor for satisfactory establishment and development of shade-intolerant bottomland species. Patch cutting, a combination of uneven-aged (group selection) and even-aged (clearcutting) silviculture, designed to create larger openings, has been successfully used to produce an uneven-aged stand that consists of many small, irregularly shaped, even-aged groups. Silvicultural systems should include a planned program of intermediate operations designed to enhance the growth and development of those species favored during the regeneration process. Improvement cutting and commercial thinning are increasingly common in southern bottomland hardwood forests. Other partial cuttings employed today in bottomland hardwood forests typically involve some form of crop-tree release. Specific recommendations for the selection of silvicultural systems are presented for the eight most important species groups found in southern bottomland hardwood forests.