Forests, 2019-10-17, Vol.10 (10), p.913
Branch diameter is an important aspect of wood quality, as lumber grades can be determined based on the maximum diameter of branches. Crown and branch development can be influenced by the environment surrounding the trees, and silvicultural interventions, which reduce stand density and increase the growth of residual trees, could therefore alter branch properties. We evaluated maximum branch diameter within the crown of residual black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) B.S.P.) subjected to five types of silvicultural intervention—three partial-cutting and two clearcutting treatments—as well as trees within unmanaged control stands. We sampled a total of 41 stands and 223 trees. We collected 15 whorls from the live crown of each tree and measured the diameters of the largest branches. For all treatments, we observed a curvilinear relationship between maximum branch diameter and distance from the stem apex, and the largest branches were located in the lower third of the live crown. DBH before treatment and treatment were the variables that best explained maximum branch diameter in the lowest portion of the crown. A generalized additive model showed that maximum branch diameter in black spruce following silvicultural treatment will not differ significantly from trees of unmanaged control stands. Therefore, the studied partial cutting and clearcutting treatments do not have adverse effects on maximum branch diameter when compared to unmanaged control stands. However, DBH prior to treatment must be considered before any treatment is applied in forest management operations if maximum branch diameter is an important wood quality factor at the time of the final harvest of the stands.
picea mariana (mill.) b.s.p ; silvicultural treatments ; live crown ; maximum branch diameter ; clearcutting ; partial cutting
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