Midrotation Cuts

Midrotation cuts occur after stand establishment and before regeneration/final harvest. There are two common types, crop tree release / timber stand improvement and thinning.

Crop Tree Release

After the seedlings have become established on the site, they begin to grow. The next silvicultural practice that is often considered is a release operation. This is done to release the seedlings and/or sprouts from the competition of other less desirable vegetation. In the case of a pine plantation, herbicides are often used to accomplish this. Commonly aerial applications are used over the top of the pine forest, using carefully selected herbicides that kill the competing vegetation, but do not harm the pine seedlings. The stand to the left was recently sprayed.

In a hardwood forest this operation is often referred to as a crop tree release. With crop tree release the most desirable trees in the forest are identified, and the trees that are interfering with their growth are cut down or injected with a herbicide to kill them. Only the competing trees are removed, and generally only about 100 trees per acre are identified as crop trees. For example, a northern red oak or black cherry may be identified as a crop tree, and blackgum, sourwood, and red maple trees as less desirable competing trees to be removed. All of these release treatments cost money, so should be carefully weighed for their benefits before being done. The dense stand to the right might be a candidate for crop tree release.

VT Forestry Department