Red alder plantation management : a manager's guide to reducing mortality within red alder plantations Knapp, Allan
Observations of plantation failures in British Columbia have left some forest managers questioning whether it is viable to transition from managing conventional species to managing Alnus rubra (red alder). These mortalities and plantation failures often deter forest managers from managing red alder as anything more than a nuisance. This paper will recommend practices in order to reduce mortalities and plantation failures when managing red alder. One of the key strategies that provides the greatest reduction in mortality is appropriate site selection, with this the areas prone to frost or drought can be avoided, as they are significant contributors to plantation failures. In addition, mechanical site preparation prior to planting is beneficial by improving rooting mediums for red alder and herbicide treatments will reduce competition with brush species. Despite being well-known for its capacity to dominate disturbed sites, for red alder natural regeneration is unreliable. Artificial regeneration should be used instead to ensure plantation success. Inspection the planting stock during planting is very important to check for any seedling mortalities. Finding these mortalities early on will allow more time to arrange an order for fill-planting, to avoid ingress of brush and plantation failure. Plantation failures caused by nursery stock failure is rare, but there can be ~10% of the inventory suffer mortality from desiccation in cold storage, especially for smaller stock types. Choosing an appropriate stock type can improve survival of red alder in the plantation. Red alder can be successfully planted in both spring and summer, yet spring is a more suitable choice so that seedlings have an opportunity to establish an adequate rooting system prior to frost and drought events. Plantations should be surveyed in May to assess significance of brush competition and also in October to determine if planted stock has hardened prior to fall frosts. With the information from surveying in these times of the year appropriate measures can be planned in order to improve the overall success of the plantation. These kinds of measures will provide the plantation with the necessary advantages in order to prevent damaging agents from having severe impacts on plantations or causing a plantation failure. Ensuring plantation success will require additional silvicultural treatments, but if done during the initial stages of establishing the plantation the investments should pay off.
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