New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 5–6, pp 941–954 | Cite as

Thinning effect on light regime and growth of underplanted red oak and black cherry in post-agricultural forests of south-eastern Canada

  • Alain Cogliastro
  • Alain Paquette


Over the last century, north-eastern North America has seen the gradual abandonment of much agricultural land that had become unsuitable for modern practices. This shift in land-use has released large areas that are now dominated by early-successional forests with limited mid- and late-successional species regeneration. Enrichment underplanting, with the partial preservation of the existing vegetation to serve as a shelterwood, has been proposed to restore the production of valuable timber. The present study reports mid-term (8–12 year) results from an enrichment planting experiment located at two sites in the St-Lawrence River Valley, eastern Canada. The objective was to identify the required frequency of low-intensity thinnings necessary to secure an optimal density of promising stems of black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) and red oak (Quercus rubra L.). Partial thinning treatments were applied during the 3rd and 7th growing seasons and compared to a single thinning applied at the 7th year. Each thinning treatment increased available light to 20–30 % in the understory (measured the following year at 2 m from ground level). The height of red oaks released twice was almost double that of red oaks thinned only once. The effect on black cherry was less dramatic and significant only at one of the two sites. A higher intensity or an earlier application of thinning regimes may be required for black cherry. The early thinning allowed a larger number of planted trees to react positively to the second thinning. The practice of double thinning over a period of 12 years allowed for the production of a significant number of competitively successful trees for the landowner.


Underplanting Thinning Post-agricultural forest Light Hardwood 



We wish to thank the owners of the sites for their invaluable support over the years. We also gratefully acknowledge the work of technical staff (Stéphane Daigle, Léa Bouttier, André-Jean Lalanne, Valentin Arnaud, Réné Dulude) and two anonymous referees for providing constructive reviews. This work was supported by the Programme de Mise en Valeur des Ressources du Milieu Forestier—Volet II, Montérégie. We would also like to dedicate this work to the memory of our friend and long-time colleague André Bouchard who died during the course of this experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale, Jardin botanique de MontréalUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Center for Forest ResearchUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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