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Effect of spacing on growth and quality parameters in sessile oak (Quercus petraea) stands in central Poland: results 7 years after planting

Andrzejczyk, Tadeusz, Liziniewicz, Mateusz, Drozdowski, Stanisław
Scandinavian journal of forest research 2015 v.30 no.8 pp. 710-718
Quercus petraea, intraspecific competition, natural regeneration, plantations, planting, seedlings, Poland
We examined the growth and quality of young oaks in stands established at three different spacings. The three densities were the traditional level, that is, 8000 seedlings ha ⁻¹ (1.5 × 0.85 m) plus two where the initial density was decreased by 50% and 70%, achieved by increasing the distance between the rows from 1.5 to 3 or 4.5 m. The experiment was located in central Poland on a moderately fertile site. In the two wider spacings, the intention was to use natural regeneration occurring between oak rows as a replacement of intraspecific competition for oaks. The mean height was only affected in the third and the fourth year after establishment. Subsequently, the differences between spacings with respect to both growth and quality traits were insignificant and small. At lower densities, natural regeneration of willow and aspen was abundant and inter-species competition replaced intra-species competition, thus explaining the absence of a spacing effect on growth and quality properties. In the study period, the wider spacings were economically beneficial compared to traditional densities. A strong competition affecting height growth caused by natural regeneration necessitated extensive tendings. More tendings are likely to be needed in the future and they might reduce the initial economical superiority of wider spacing. The study indicates that it is possible to decrease the initial spacing in oak plantations and simultaneously support good growing conditions by means of natural processes, for example, natural regeneration. However, economic efficiency of the method has to be studied in a longer perspective.