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Ten overstory red spruce were selected from a thinned stand and 1 0 from an unthinned stand. Average age of sample trees was approximately 80 years. Specific gravity reached a maximum at age 53 in the thinned stand and age 72 in the unthinned stand, after which it remained relatively constant. Stiffness reached a maximum at ages 35 and 50, and bending strength at ages 41 and 54; both remained relatively constant with further increases in age. Stiffness showed the largest relative difference between juvenile and mature wood, 22%, and specific gravity the smallest difference, 8%. Thinning did not adversely affect any of the properties, even though the width of some growth rings was increased by three to four times. These results suggest that (1) growth of mature red spruce stands can be increased by thinning without affecting wood physical properties, and (2) intensive management practices designed to shorten the rotation age may lead to stands that have not begun to produce mature wood before they are harvested. These short-rotation stands will contain a higher percentage of juvenile wood than stands presently being harvested, which means that pulp yields will decrease and the material will be less suitable for structural lumber.
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Maine Agricultural Experiment Station
red spruce, wood properties
Wood Science and Pulp, Paper Technology
Wolcott, M.P., R.K. Shepard, and J.E. Shottafter. 1987. Age and thinning effects on wood properties of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.). Maine Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 127.