Value of complete information on red heartwood formation in beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) is the most important deciduous tree species in Germany. The wood of beech shows normally a bright colour (white beech) as long as no coloured heartwood has been formed. The facultative heartwood formation is induced when oxygen enters central parts of older trees, where dead or at least less vital parenchyma exist. The coloured heartwood is usually called ‘red heartwood’. Beech without red heartwood can preferably be found in younger trees which show a high water content even in central parts of the stem. The presence of red heartwood is regarded as a severe reduction of timber quality. Numerous studies have investigated opportunities to derive information on the presence and characteristics of red heartwood of standing beech trees. But until now it has not been tested whether such information could be helpful to improve the economics of beech-silviculture. This paper investigates whether complete information on the heartwood of standing beech could be useful to control the proportion of discoloured timber harvested during one rotation. It is also examined, which kind of information on the heartwood could be used to improve the economic results. To verify this, simulations based on simple algorithms were conducted. The general assumption was made that all information on the heartwood would be available. The results show that information which is restricted on the mere existence of red heartwood is neither suited to significantly reduce the amount of coloured timber nor is it possible to improve economic results based on this information. Only based on information on the recent formation of red heartwood of beech, which is actually still white the amount of discoloured timber can be reduced significantly. Consequently the discounted cash flows can only be substantially improved based on information on an expected formation of recent red heartwood.
Received 11 March 2002 Accepted 11 October 2002 Published 31 December 2002