Development of water oak stump sprouts under a partial overstory
A 28-year-old water oak (Quercus nigra L.) plantation was thinned from below to either 254 or 462 stems per hectare to determine the influence of a partial canopy on oak stump sprout development. Sprout clump survival, number of living sprouts in a clump, and height and DBH of the dominant sprout in a clump were measured in years l-5 and 7 after harvest. By year 7, sprout clump survival under the heavily thinned canopy was 23% higher than under the lightly thinned canopy. Within-clump sprout mortality was not influenced by overstory thinning level, but by year 2 height and diameter increment were 15% and 22% greater, respectively, under the heavy overstory removal. Positive height and diameter growth of dominant sprouts continued under both canopy conditions through year 7, but early benefits of the heavy overstory removal on sprout growth diminished. Additional overstory removal or sprout clump thinning would be necessary to sustain sprout clump survival and sprout growth over extended periods.