Current issue: 56(4)
Under compilation: 57(1)
Investing in planting genetically improved silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) in Swedish plantations requires understanding how birch stands will develop over their entire rotation. Previous studies have indicated relatively low production of birch compared to Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). This could result from using unrepresentative basic data, collected from unimproved, naturally-regenerated birch (Betula spp.) growing on inventory plots often located in coniferous stands. The objective of this study was to develop a basal area development function of improved silver birch and evaluate production over a full rotation period. We used data from 52 experiments including planted silver birch of different genetic breeding levels in southern and central Sweden. The experimental plots were established on fertile forest sites and on former agricultural lands, and were managed with different numbers of thinnings and basal area removal regimes. The model best describing total stand basal area development was a dynamic equation derived from the Korf base model. The analysis of the realized gain trial for birch showed a good stability of the early calculated relative differences in basal area between tested genotypes over time. Thus, the relative difference in basal area might be with cautious used as representation of the realized genetic gain. On average forest sites in southern Sweden, improved and planted silver birch could produce between 6–10.5 m3 ha–1 year–1, while on fertile agriculture land the average productivity might be higher, especially with material coming from the improvement program. The performed analysis provided a first step toward predicting the effects of genetic improvement on total volume production and profitability of silver birch. However, more experiments are needed to set up the relative differences between different improved material.
This paper investigates and models the effects of pruning season and tool on wound occlusion with varying tree and branch characteristics of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) stems at the pruning height of 0−4 metres. Dates of eight secateurs prunings, three saw prunings and two sticks prunings as well as unpruned control were tested in permanent plots on four sites. Knot occlusion and discolouration in stemwood were measured from about 1600 studied knots of 112 sample trees felled five to six years after pruning in 2010. Knot occlusion rate was modelled according to pruning tool, date, tree growth, and branch characteristics. The occlusion was the fastest in trees pruned in spring or early summer, and the slowest in trees pruned in autumn. Stubs of living branches occluded faster than the dead ones with the same diameter. Saw pruning resulted in clearly better occlusion rates than secateurs pruning, caused by the shorter knot stubs after saw pruning. Hitting dead branches away with a stick resulted in the worst occlusion status. The colour defects spread more often upward from the knot than downward. Discolouration in stemwood was detected more frequently near to the pruned branches than the unpruned ones, and more widely near to the stubs of dead branches than the living ones. Most saw and secateurs pruned branches were completely occluded during the experiment, so these prunings were suitable for all branches under 20 mm in diameter, and for living branches even up to 30 mm in fast-growing trees.
The objective of the study was to ascertain the effects of tree selection (thinning from below, from above and according to stem quality) and timing of first commercial thinning (early and delayed) on the growth, yield and quality of trees in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand. A long-term field experiment (25 years) was measured in 5-year periods and the further development was simulated with growth and yield models to final cuttings using alternative rotation periods of 55–85 years. The measurements included also the exact location and type of technical defects detected on all trees in the experimental plots. The measured volume increment per unit area during the study period, 25 years after the early thinning stage was the lowest in the plots thinned from below, and the highest in the plots thinned from above or in the delayed thinning plots. However, the largest volume of saw logs during the whole rotation of 80 years was yielded after early first thinning according to the quality. The largest volume of very high-quality butt logs was produced by pruning connected with early thinning from above, and a smaller volume after early thinning according to stem quality but no after thinning from below or delayed first thinning. Without pruning an early quality thinning with one intermediate thinning was the most profitable thinning treatment in the Scots pine stand regardless the rotation length or the interest rate used. By interest rates of 1% and 2%, the optimal rotations were 80–85 years and 70 years respectively. A late thinning at the age of 60 year with long rotation was profitable only for the pruned pine stands with a low interest rate.
Downy birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) stands on drained peatlands are often considered useless because they typically do not yield good-quality sawn timber. However, covering an area of ca. 0.5 million hectares and with total yields of up to 250 m3 ha–1, downy birch stands on peatlands in Finland have a potential for pulpwood and/or energy wood production. We examined the financial performance of alternative management regimes (with or without thinnings, different thinning intensities, several rotation lengths) combined with alternative harvesting methods (pulpwood, energy wood, or integrated, energy wood being delimbed stems or whole trees). We used data from 19 experimental stands, monitored for 20–30 years. For harvesting removals we considered both actual thinning removals and final-cutting removals with alternative timings that were based on the monitoring data. We assessed the profitability as a combination of the net present value of the birch generation and the bare land value of future generations of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). The most profitable management was growing without thinnings until whole-tree final cutting at the stand age of 40–45 years with an advanced multi-tree harvesting method. In contrast, the standard method in whole-tree final cutting resulted in the lowest profitability, and an integrated method with the energy wood as delimbed stems was the best of the standard methods. Thinnings were unprofitable especially when aiming to produce energy wood, whereas aiming for pulpwood, light precommercial thinning was competitive. Commercial thinning at the traditional “pulpwood stage” had little effect on profitability. The best stand age for final cutting was 40–65 years – earlier for very dense stands and whole-tree energy wood harvesting with advanced method, later for precommercially thinned stands and pulpwood harvesting.