Effect of thinning on growth and shape of Castanea sativa adult tree plantations for timber production in Chile
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Chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is an interesting species for high-quality timber production. It is well known that the species responds to early thinning, but there is no information on the impact of late interventions. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of a late thinning on the performance of unmanaged adult chestnut plantations in Chile. Future-tree selective thinning and control were compared in adult plantations using a randomized complete block design with three replicates at three sites, Minas, Pillo-Pillo and Pumillahue. Tree growth was evaluated periodically during the first 7 years after thinning in all plantations. Additionally, almost 20 years after the intervention, the Pumillahue plantation was measured for growth and tree shape variables. In this case study, the effect of thinning on tree growth decreased considerably after 5 years, with a maximum DBH increment in the third year after the intervention (45.8 %, 68.6 %, and 42.2 % in Minas, Pillo-Pillo and Pumillahue, respectively). In all plantations, basal area was smaller in the thinned plots in the first years after the intervention, but in Pumillahue, 19 years after thinning, no differences were found among treatments. Height was statistically greater under thinning seven years after the intervention; this effect was also found in Pumillahue plantation 19 years after thinning. Most trees showed high vigor, and were straight and healthy, even in control plots. Late effect of thinning was observed 19 years after thinning on tree shape, with a reduction in the proportion of bifurcated trees from 16 % to 8 %. The results suggest that late thinning is an effective silvicultural intervention to produce high-quality chestnut timber in unmanaged adult plantations. Progressive and frequent thinning should be used to increase growth and improve timber production in chestnut.
Especie forestalCastanea sativa
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