4: Regenerating Woodland Stands

Activities: Regenerating Woodland Stands

How these activities will help you as a woodland owner:

You will learn that trees have the potential to naturally regenerate from seed, stump sprouts, root suckers and layering, depending on the tree species. Where natural regeneration is unreliable, you may choose artificial regeneration (planting seed, seedlings, or cuttings) and you will learn how to calculate the number of trees required to plant a given area. You will learn about different site preparation and planting techniques. Then the chapter describes different harvest and regeneration systems and the circumstances under which each should be used. This chapter is excellent background for the management recommendations for various forest types in Chapter 6: Managing Important Forest Types.

Step 1: Select a stand to regenerate.

Review your written woodland stewardship plan to find the stands that are recommended for regeneration in the next few years. What reasons were stated for regenerating each stand? These could include:

  • The trees are mature.
  • There is low potential for future value growth.
  • To improve wildlife habitat.
  • To salvage and renew the stand after a severe windstorm, insect outbreak, fire, or other natural disturbance.

Step 2: Evaluate trees of the past, present, and future.

  • Step 2A: To understand the regeneration challenges you may face, walk through each stand that is recommended for regeneration in the next few years. Notice trees of the past, present, and future. Write down the species in each category.
    • Trees of the past are large trees with crowns in the canopy that dominated the stand at one time, but are now nearing the ends of their natural lives.
    • Trees of the present currently dominate the canopy and are healthy.
    • Trees of the future are understory seedlings, saplings, or small poles. They are poised to take over the stand as the current dominants in the canopy die.
  • Step 2B: Does the species composition of trees in the understory differ from the species composition of trees in the canopy? The process of succession is occurring where one combination of species is being replaced by a different combination. Regeneration is easier and less costly if your regeneration strategy for a stand coincides with its natural successional pathway.
  • Step 2C: Read about this forest type in Chapter 6: Managing Important Forest Types, paying particular attention to how tree species in this forest type usually are regenerated and what successional pathways occur on different sites.
  • Step 2D: Talk with your forester about the likely successional pathways for your stands.
  • Step 2E: Note any invasive species that moved into the stand or expanded their presence since the management plan was written. This is important because the harvest will allow more sunlight to reach the understory and forest floor, potentially allowing invasives to thrive and inhibit the regeneration success.Inform yourself about the terrestrial invasive plants most common in your area. Pay particular attention to each species’ mode of dispersal and the threat it may pose to regeneration success. If those threats are serious, discuss an action plan with your forester as you plan the regeneration treatment.

Step 3: Develop a regeneration plan with your forester.

  • Step 3A: Review the recommendations in your woodland stewardship plan that describe how each of your stands should be regenerated.
  • Step 3B: Such recommendations typically are quite general, so ask your forester to write more specific plans before regeneration activities begin in any stand.Regeneration plans should describe:
    • Your objectives for managing a stand.
      • Clearcutting
      • Seed tree
      • Shelterwood
      • Single-tree selection
      • Group selectionWhich harvest system to use on the overstory. Consider the costs and benefits of different regeneration systems, including
    • The optimal harvesting equipment to be used, given the regeneration plan.
    • When should the harvest occur, considering:
      • Season of the year when logging will cause the least damage to the site.
      • Market conditions.
      • Opportunity to encourage advance regeneration of seedlings or seed production.
    • How will the stand be regenerated?
      If natural regeneration is recommended:

      • Species composition of the understory
      • Preferred species to regenerate
      • Number of preferred species that constitute successful regeneration
      • How preferred species are expected to regenerate (e.g., seed, stump sprouts, root suckers, layering).
      If artificial regeneration will be used

      • Species composition of the understory
      • Preferred species to plant
      • Number of preferred species that constitute successful regeneration
      • What type of planting stock will be used (seed, bareroot seedlings, container-grown seedlings, cuttings)
      • Where planting stock should be purchased
      • Quality of planting stock to use
      • Tree spacing within rows and between rows
      • Number of items to be planted per acre.
    • Which site preparation methods should be used to control herbaceous weeds, woody materials, and animal pests (be specific).
      • Mechanical (equipment, time of year, frequency)
      • Prescribed burning (equipment, time of year, burning permit)
      • Herbicides (name, formulation, application rate, time of year, equipment)
      • Fencing or tree shelters (design, materials)
      • Other pest control
    • What maintenance is required after planting to control weeds, animals, and other pests.
  • Step 3C: What government cost-sharing is available to help pay for the cost of regeneration?
    Ask your forester what cost-sharing may be available for tree regeneration.  Some tree planting and regeneration projects may be eligible for partial reimbursement by a government agency such as your state forestry agency, USDA Farm Service Agency, or USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Woodland Stewardship: A Practical Guide for Midwestern Landowners, 3rd Edition Copyright © 2019 by University of Minnesota Extension is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book