Submitted to: North American Agroforestry Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2005
Publication Date: 6/12/2005
Citation: Pote, D.H., Ares, A., Blanche, C.A. 2005. Effect of pine straw harvesting on survival and growth of loblolly pine. North American Agroforestry Conference [CD-ROM]. Saint Paul, MN, Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management.
Interpretive Summary: Pine straw is a valuable landscaping mulch and a multi-million dollar business in several southeastern states, but some forest managers are concerned that loss of those mulching benefits from forests may hinder timber productivity in areas where pine straw has been harvested. Research was conducted to determine pine straw harvesting effects on tree survival and growth rates in an established loblolly pine plantation. During the seven years of this study, pine straw harvesting did not affect tree growth and overall survival. These results are of interest to scientists, foresters, extension personnel, and producers because they show that pine straw can be harvested and sold without significantly decreasing timber production.
Technical Abstract: Pine needles that accumulate on the forest floor help to conserve soil moisture, protect the soil surface against erosion, moderate soil temperature, inhibit weed growth, and provide soil nutrients and organic matter. Pine needles tend to interlock and form a straw layer that is not easily dislodged by high winds or water flows, but retains a loose structure that allows air, water, and nutrients to easily infiltrate the soil surface. These qualities have made pine straw a valuable landscaping mulch, and a multi-million dollar business in several southeastern states. However, some forest managers are concerned that loss of those mulching benefits from forests may hinder timber productivity in areas where pine straw has been harvested. Therefore, an experiment was conducted for seven years to determine pine straw harvesting effects on tree mortality and growth rates in an established loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) plantation (3.0 x 1.5 m tree spacing). Four pine straw management practices were compared in the presence and absence of fertilizer additions. There were 24 plots (0.044 ha each) to provide three replications of each harvesting/fertilization treatment combination. Results showed that pine straw harvesting had no significant effects on tree growth and overall survival, regardless of fertilizer applications.