Research papers

Cultivation techniques in a 34 years old farming oak (Quercus robur L.) plantation in the Arno valley (Tuscany)


This report aims to provide a description of the cultivation techniques adopted at the oldest oak pure plantation (age 34) established within the environmental restoration plan of soil dumps at the Santa Barbara ENEL Company opencast mine in Cavriglia (AR). The goals of the initial plan, following which the plantation was carried out, were to (i) verify the possibility of restoring the soil dump by using tree farming plantations and produce a range of valuable timber assortments; (ii) test the growth potential of the oak species in a pure plantation.

The plantation, carried out with a stem density of 1,111 trees per hectare, was managed by targeted practices (pruning up to the stem height of 4-5 m and then undertaking four thinnings).  A geometric-selective thinning was applied first and, later, periodical thinning from above was implemented, releasing, as a result, about 70 crop trees per hectare. In the meanwhile, it was possible to monitor  the growth parameters concerning dbh, tree height and crown diameter. The stem quality and the presence of epicormic branches were evaluated in 2013 and the relationship between the presence of epicormic branches and tree characteristics were also analyzed. The wood production was compared with other European plantations, especially from France.

Today, 34 years after the plantation got started, the site is an interesting case-study of tree farming as it plays a consistent role within the environmental restoration of the area. The applied management system allowed to reach a noticeable wood production level andalso valuable timber assortments for industrial use. Crop trees (70 per hectare) reached a mean dbh of 38.1 cm, the height of 22.3 m at the age of 34. 


English oak, thinning; valuable timber; tree farming; plantation

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