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Integration of soil moisture, xylem water potential, and fall-spring herbicide treatments to achieve the maximum growth response in newly planted Douglas-fir seedlings

Dinger, Eric J., Rose, Robin
Canadian journal of forest research = 2009 v.39 no.7 pp. 1401-1414
tree growth, plantation forestry, seedling growth, Pseudotsuga menziesii, forest trees, xylem water potential, plant-water relations, plant competition, plant communities, botanical composition, herbicides, pesticide application, weed control, soil water content, seedlings, statistical analysis
Early in the establishment of Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) plantations, herbaceous vegetation can decrease seedling growth through competition for soil moisture during the dry summer months. This study was designed to statistically quantify soil moisture, seedling xylem water potential (Ψ), vegetation community, and seedling growth response to six herbicide treatment regimes commonly applied over the first 2 years of establishment. When compared with the control, soil moisture and seedling Ψ increased in response to reductions in competitive cover, allowing seedlings to extend productive growing time from 28 to 80 days. As a result, seedling volume growth increased from 56 cm3 in the untreated control to greater than 250 cm3 for the most intensive herbicide treatment regimes. Vegetation surveys revealed that treatment regimes had the potential to provide a disturbance, which could shift community composition from native to introduced species as the relationship decreased from 10:1 to 2:1. The most intense herbicide treatment regime reduced cover below 20%, retained soil moisture >30%, maintained predawn seedling Ψ above -1.0 MPa, and decreased height to diameter ratio below 50, increasing the likelihood of successful plantation establishment.