Highlights: Precommercial thinning (PCT) was a useful tool to influence the stand structure in accordance to silvicultural goals; PCT had a great impact on tree species composition; The seemingly great potential to influence the structure of a heterogeneous, mixed stand was restrained by natural settings and unconditional considerations at PCT (e.g. tree vitality, stem quality, regular spacing).
Four different management strategies were applied to a young mixed stand of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.), Norway spruce (Pices abies (L.) Karst.) and birch (Betula pendula Roth and Betula pubescens Ehrh.) in southern Sweden. All strategies included an initial precommercial thinning to ca. 2400 stems ha–1. The different aims were: (i) a conifer-dominated stand with focus on high productivity; (ii) a conifer-dominated stand with high quality timber; (iii) keeping a stem-wise species mixture; (iv) a mosaic-wise species mixture. Stem selection according to the different strategies were simulated with a starting point from plots with a 5 m radius. All strategies were applied to all of the plots. A growth simulator was used to simulate the stand development up to final felling. This study illustrates the possibilities for influencing the structure of a mixed stand through precommercial thinning. The study also illustrates the long-term effects on stand structure and volume yield by consequently applying a management strategy from precommercial thinning until final felling. Precommercial thinning was found to be a useful tool to influence the stand structure in accordance to the aims set. However, the opportunities for influencing the stand by precommercial thinning were restricted by natural settings and unconditional considerations (e.g. tree vitality, stem quality, regular spacing), beyond what could be judged from stand average data. The stem volume production during a rotation was 6% lower for (iii) and (iv) compared to (i) and (ii), mainly due to a greater proportion of birch in the former strategies.