Recruiting oak using midstory herbicide shelterwood prescriptions in Cumberland Plateau forests in Alabama, Tennessee, and KentuckyThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
I examined the implementation of a midstory herbicide treatment as the first phase in a two-phase shelterwood prescription in upland hardwood stands in Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The initial prescription for all three sites was similar: use herbicide to reduce the density of the midstory, allowing increased light to the established oak (Quercus spp.) reproduction. The goal was to increase understory light to at least 20 percent of full sun to promote oak seedling growth and recruitment over other species. Light was increased, but ephemeral and not to the 20-percent full sun goal. Densities of large oak seedlings [>4 feet in height up to 1.5 inches diameter at breast height (dbh)] increased only on the Kentucky site, which had the most advance oak reproduction of all three sites prior to treatment. Response of competitors, including shade-tolerant sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), intolerant yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.), and ubiquitous red maple (A. rubrum L.), also responded. Treating small stems (<1 inch dbh) and other tending treatments prior to overstory may be warranted to maintain oak.