Northern red oak regeneration: 25-year results of cutting and prescribed fire in Michigan oak and pine stands
Overstory and understory treatments were established in natural oak stands and red pine plantations in Michigan in 1991 to test the hypotheses that (1) oak seedling survival and growth would be greater in pine than oak stands and (2) removal of competitors would enhance oak seedling performance. Late spring prescribed ﬁres were implemented in 2002 and 2008 to investigate their eﬀectiveness in controlling understory red maple. Performance of planted northern red oaks has been monitored since 1991 and the abundance of naturally regenerating oak and red maple seedlings and sprouts in diﬀerent size classes has been documented since 2001. A subset of oaks has been protected against deer browsing since planting. Results suggest partial competitor removal enhances oak seedling and sprout performance, whereas complete removal increases mortality from browsing and frost. Increases in red maple abundance and decreases in oak abundance were documented after the prescribed ﬁres in 2015. Greater growth and survival of planted oaks was observed in the pine stands, provided they were protected from browsing. Based on these results, the most viable management scenario for maximizing survival and growth of oak seedlings and sprouts in the study region would include protecting oak seedlings from deer in 25% canopy cover shelterwoods in pine plantations. Opportunities exist for developing systems involving alternating rotations and mixtures of oak and pine.