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Mid - Rotation Management in Pine Stands

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April 26, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about mid rotation management and pine stands. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. John Willis, Mississippi State University Assistant Professor in the College of Forest Resources. John, what exactly is mid rotation management and pine stands?

John Willis: It's a [inaudible 00:00:27] activity that we undertake to keep pine plantations growing effectively and at their maximum rate after the first thinning.

Amy Myers: Okay so when should this action occur?

John Willis: It needs to occur after the first thinning, but that's kind of a complicated question because not all stands are created equal. Generally that will happen between 11 years and 17 years, but that of course depends on the initial density of your stand and the site quality of your stand.

Amy Myers: This is halfway between when you first I guess plant that rotation and then harvest it, is that correct?

John Willis: That's correct, yeah. The typical pine rotation in Mississippi is going to be around 30 years, so it's about the midway point. The reason why it's so important to practice that at that point is after you do that first thinning you're increasing resources not only to your trees, but also to the residual hardwoods in the understory. They can compete aggressively with your pines and reduce growth and productivity.

Amy Myers: Okay. That doesn't sound very productive. Tell me what are some considerations land owners should keep in mind before conducting a mid rotation management in pine stands?

John Willis: That's a really good question. I think land owners need to be realistic about the cost and the benefits here. Now certainly you are going to grow your trees faster if you reduce competition, but mid rotation management doesn't come free. Burning your stand requires money. Herbicides, which are going to be your most effective method to practice mid rotation management, they're not free either. You need to really be cognitive about your inputs and your outputs before you decide to practice. Another thing to consider are your goals. Sometimes land owners want a mixed species stand to come up, and that's a great way which you can get a mixed species stand is don't do mid rotation management. Let those hardwoods come up underneath and you can actually have a two age stand that is higher diversity.

Amy Myers: This sounds like sort of a tedious practice in a way. If you don't do it right, it kind of sounds like you could really mess it up and mess up trees that you are hoping to harvest in 15 years. Is there a way that this can get I guess messed up?

John Willis: Yeah. I mean there's definitely the potential to cause harm to your residual trees, which are your crop trees, so you want to avoid that. Any time you use fire in a stand you have to be cognizant of the burning conditions and the field conditions, so burning on a day when you certainly can control the intensity of the fire is very important. If we're considering using herbicides, obviously read the label. Read, read, read. That is the key. For a product that has a glyphosate in it, you have to realize that it will work very well on the canopy foliage, but that will work on the pines as well, so you need to keep the herbicide off of the pine's foliage okay. If the hardwoods are too large, you may be in better shape actually doing a mid story injection. That is probably your safest method because you don't have any risk of getting it on the pines.

Amy Myers: Okay so that would be an injection where you go in and you kill the trees by injecting them with a herbicide?

John Willis: Exactly, yeah. Typically the way that's done is, the most simple way for land owners, is literally with a hatchet and a spray bottle. It's called the hack and squirt method to where you just wound the tree and with the spray bottle you just squirt into the wound the product. That works very well because it contains the herbicide in the tree itself. It allows you take species specific actions in your stand.

Amy Myers: Okay so that would be a good method of making sure that you don't harm other trees that you don't want to kill. For more information can we go to, and then go to the College of Forest Resources?

John Willis: Absolutely. There's some new publications that my colleague, Brady Self, has put out on some of the best herbicides to use for this type of situation, so I would highly recommend doing so.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much. Today we've been speaking with Dr. John Willis, Mississippi State University Assistant Professor in the College of Forest Resources. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Department: Forestry

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