Update on U.S. Forest Service Research in the Western Gulf Region

Update on U.S. Forest Service Research in the Western Gulf Region

By Mary Anne S. Sayer, Research Plant Physiologist, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station

Nearly 20 years ago, a trajectory was shared between U.S. Forest Service research focused on longleaf pine establishment and vigor in the western Gulf region and the national longleaf pine restoration effort led by The Longleaf Alliance.  Today, new information is available to help landowners achieve their longleaf objectives in the bluestem woodlands of Louisiana and Texas.  As part of this effort, a series of experiments conducted on the Palustris Experimental Forest in Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest, evaluated longleaf pine establishment and production through age 12 years in response to fertilization and competition control.  Experimental results are described in publications available on-line from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station.  Research was replicated where soil drainage and the ground-layer differed to better understand how subtle site differences interact with management to affect early stand development.  Results underscore early competition control as vital to the growth of young longleaf pines.  When a healthy fuel bed is needed after seedling establishment, however, early competition control must be tempered accordingly.  Information on the effects of biennial fire and chemical plus mechanical competition control on ground-layer composition and stemwood production provides insight about how long-term forest values may be influenced by early management decisions.

Image 1:  Experimental plots of 10-year old longleaf pine receiving biennial prescribed fire since age 2 years or treated with chemical and mechanical competition control during a 4-year establishment period. Photo by Mary Anne S. Sayer.