Hardwood Shelterwood Cut

What is a hard wood shelter wood cut?

This is a harvesting method that regenerates hardwoods.  Hardwood shelterwood cut requires two major cuttings. The first cutting thins out the trees and leaves just a few trees in the over story. Then those trees are removed to let the new stand grow.

How does it work and why do we need it?

The first thing that must be known before this management can be understood is the regeneration methods used by the different species of trees.

Pine trees, for example, are fast growing trees that use a strategy that involves growing fast and beating all the other trees to claim canopy space. Yellow poplar is also known for having this ability or regeneration method. On a good site there is nothing that will beat a yellow poplar in growing. These trees with this regeneration method are not well adapted to growing in the shade under the canopy of a forest.  They are called shade intolerant species because they can not survive well under a canopy and need direct sunlight to fuel their fast growth.

Another popular method of regenerating is to become shade tolerant. With the fact that these trees can live in the shade under an established canopy, they can not grow as fast as the shade intolerant species in full sun. This method of regeneration allows a small tree to grow slowly under the canopy of a forest and when a hole opens up they can become apart of the over story.

Another good adaptation is the ability to sprout back using root reserves.  This is the basis that we are using to start the new stand. The trees are thinned out and there are just enough trees left in the over story to shade out the shade intolerant species. This allows the shade tolerant species to get a head start and start growing.

When the trees get to be a certain size, usually a couple of inches in diameter, they are considered to be advanced regeneration. When the over story is removed and the rest of the shelter wood trees are removed, the advanced regeneration can grow back fast from root reserves and beat the faster growing shade intolerant species and have a chance to be the main part of the over story. This is beneficial because most of the higher valued hardwoods and mast producing oaks are shade tolerant.

This is a very effective regeneration method on very fertile sites. On many poor sites the oak trees and shade tolerant species will naturally become part of the over story because the faster growing trees cant handle the poor soil conditions. On fertile sites the shade tolerant species could use a head start.