Canadian Forest Service Publications
Effects of precommercial thinning on the forest value chain in northwestern New Brunswick: Part 2 - efficiency gains in cut-to-length harvesting. 2013. Plamondon, J.; Pitt, D.G. The Forestry Chronicle 89(4):458-463.
Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 35333
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The Green River precommercial thinning trials were established between 1959 and 1961 in naturally regenerating balsam fir (Abies balsamea [L.] Mill.)-dominated stands an average of eight years after overstory removal. Three nominal spacings of 4 ft (1.2 m), 6 ft (1.8 m) and 8 ft (2.4 m) were compared to an unthinned control in six replicate blocks. In the fall of 2008, following completion of the ninth sequential evaluation of the study’s 48 permanent sample plots, three of the six replicates were clearcut harvested using a cut-to-length system; data were collected on harvesting, forwarding and loading efficiency. Largely due to increased average tree size, precommercially thinned stands were associated with improvements in both harvesting and forwarding productivity, proportional to thinning intensity. For example, the nominal 6-ft spacing yielded 30% to 35% gains in harvesting productivity, and 16% to 39% gains in forwarding productivity (p ≤ 0.04), these ranges spanning the different levels of operator expertise and block conditions observed. In total, estimated harvesting costs were $12.58/m3 in the unthinned stands, compared to $9.10/m3 in the 6-ft spaced stands (p = 0.02). Such a difference represents a $3.48/m3 savings, which translates into just over $1000 per ha, based on the gross merchantable volume produced in the 6-ft spaced stands.
Plain Language Summary
The effects of precommercial thinning on harvesting costs were assessed. Half of the plots from thinning trials established in northwestern New Brunswick between 1959 and 1961 in naturally regenerating balsam fir stands were clearcut harvested in 2008, using a cut-to-length system. Costs associated with harvesting trees in areas thinned to 4 ft., 6 ft. and 8 ft. spacing were compared to those of unthinned stands. Thinned stands exhibited 30-35% gains in harvesting productivity and 16%- 39% gains in forwarding productivity over unthinned stands, largely due to increased average tree size. Gains were proportional to thinning intensity. Estimated harvesting costs were $12.58/m3 in unthinned stands, compared to $9.10/m3 in the 6-ft. spaced stands. This difference represents a $3.48/m3 saving, or about $1000/ha, based on the gross merchantable volume produced in the 6-ft. spaced stands