Effects of precommercial thinning on the forest value chain in northwestern New Brunswick: Part 1 - Roundwood production and stumpage value.
The Green River precommercial thinning trials were established between 1959 and 1961 in naturally regenerating balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill.)-dominated stands, an average of eight years after overstory removal. Three nominal spacings of 4 ft (1.2 m), 6 ft (1.8 m) and 8 ft (2.4 m) were compared to an unthinned control in six replicate blocks. In the fall of 2008, following completion of the ninth sequential evaluation of the study's 48 permanent sample plots, three of the six replicates were clearcut harvested and data were collected on roundwood product recovery and value. These data were used to construct treatment-invariant (p≥0.18) functions predicting product volume from tree diameter, allowing the volume of studwood, sawlogs and pulpwood to be predicted for the full Green River data set (all 6 replicates) through time. Mean annual increment of gross merchantable volume culminated in all treatments around stand age 45. Thinning to a nominal spacing of 6 ft, resulting in 1600 merchantable stems per ha by stand age 30, offered the best balance of individual tree and stand growth, producing 20% more gross merchantable volume and 26% more sawlog volume than unthinned stands, potentially increasing landowner stumpage revenues by 22% (p<0.01). The sawlog volume produced in unthinned stands could be realized up to 15 years sooner in thinned stands, suggesting that PCT may offer substantive flexibility in balancing forest-level wood supply objectives.