The silvicultural implications of age patterns in two southern pine stands after 72 years of uneven-aged management
A randomized sample of 250 loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) and shortleaf (Pinus echinata Mill.) pine ring counts was collected from the Good and Poor Farm Forestry compartments on the Crossett Experimental Forest. These mature, pine-dominated stands have been managed using uneven-aged silviculture since 1937. Our sample shows that both of these compartments have many different age classes although few distinct cohorts. Over the decades, pine recruitment followed the dozens of timber harvests and occasional natural mortality events (e.g., lightning strikes, ice storms, windthrow, insects, and disease). After more than 70 years of active management, only 5% of the overstory pines are shortleaf and about 6% of all pines originated before the imposition of uneven-aged silviculture. The age structure of these stands can be used to adapt conventional silvicultural treatments. For example, a wide range of ages was found in the sawtimber size classes, indicating that productivity improvements are still possible. The data also suggest that it may be possible to modify current practices to alter the age structure to favor other kinds of ecosystem services (e.g., wildlife habitat).