To be competitive the forest industry in the South is challenged to develop sustainable methods for increasing fiber supplies on a shrinking landbase. The industry is adopting increasingly intensive silvicultural practices in pine plantations, including weed control, fertilization, and genetically improved seedlings to increase fiber production, accelerate tree growth, reduce rotation length, and maximize return on investments. These efforts are greatly increasing forest growth and yield on planted acres, but their effects on wood properties, are not well known. Initial studies raise concern about the quality of fast-grown wood for both pulp and solid wood products. Little is known about basic wood properties of plantation-grown wood, even that being harvested today. However, regardless of the quantity being grown, it is clear that industry's competitiveness will suffer if the South's fast-grown fiber does not meet world class quality standards.
This study was initiated to develop a thorough understanding of the effects of environmental conditions and silvicultural treatments on basic wood properties in order to improve plantation management and wood utilization throughout the Southeast and South Central regions. Over three years, this study has helped to close the information gap on wood properties, by establishing a wood quality baseline or benchmark for the South's loblolly pine plantations. Looking across the region, patterns of wood properties have emerged. Most encouraging is that quality factors such as wood density, strength and stiffness can remain high even with fast growth. In Georgia, the state's fastest growing pine plantations, in the Lower Coastal Plain, can retain good wood properties because they maintain relatively high growth rates late in the growing season. Plantations from this area also have an earlier transition from juvenile wood to more desirable, higher density mature wood. In other regions of Georgia, larger proportions of juvenile wood may reduce overall quality for some pulp and solid wood products. The benchmarks established by this project will be used in measuring future changes in wood supply quality from deployment of new intensive forest management technologies.
Industry is interested in implementing these wood quality results immediately. Six companies operating in the South participated in this study by opening their land holdings for wood sampling and providing assistance in locating study plots. These companies and other wood users in the state are keenly interested in the regional variations in wood properties across the Southeast and South Central states. Knowing the changes in these properties by region will help shape wood procurement and wood growing strategies for the industry. Ultimately, this information may help differentiate wood markets by quality standards. Quantitative prediction tools were developed which will allow industrial growers to factor wood quality, not just quantity, into their decisions about timber growing alternatives. In addition, this project has provided some laboratory and mill yard techniques that industry can employ in quality control testing of certain wood properties, including stiffness and density. Based in large part on the foundation of work started by this project, the industry has banded together with the University of Georgia and the U.S. Forest Service to establish the Wood Quality Consortium at the University of Georgia in order to further explore wood quality issues.
This study was initiated to develop a thorough understanding of the effects of environmental conditions and silvicultural treatments on basic wood properties in order to improve plantation management and wood utilization throughout the South. Over three years, this study has helped to close the information gap on wood properties of loblolly pine, by addressing three objectives:
The follow personnel work directly on the data acquisition and analysis on the Wood Quality Study.
Richard F. Daniels Phd. Professor, Warnell School of Forest Resources,
University of Gerogia, Athens, GA 30602
Alexander Clark III Wood Scientist, U.S. Forest Service, Forest Sciences Laboratory - (Disturbance and Mgt. of Southern Forest Ecosystems working group), Athens, GA
Joseph F. Sanders - Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of
Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
Scott Howell - Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
Edward Andrews - Forester, U.S. Forest Service, Forest Sciences Laboratory
- (Disturbance and Mgt. of Southern Forest Ecosystems working group), Athens, GA