Effect of wide spacing on tree growth, branch and sapwood properties of young Douglas-fir [ Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] in south-western Germany
The influence of stand density on Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] is conceptually understood, but for wide spacings not well quantified, particularly in Europe. This study used 41 trees from 7 different locations in south-western Germany to compare important tree- and branch-level attributes across three different densities, namely 100, 200, and 1,200 stems ha-1. In general, there were only a few tree and branch attributes that were significantly different between the 100 and 200 ha-1 densities. Crown projection area and diameter of the thickest branches were the most important differences between the 100 and 200 ha-1 densities. The most obvious and significant differences in this study were between 100 and 1,200 ha-1 densities, where nearly every examined tree and branch attributes were statistically significant. However, relative sapwood area, the number of branches, branch angle, and the occurrence of spike knots were insensitive to stand density. Although the two lowest stand densities in this study represent rather extremely wide spacings, these results still have important implications for the development of effective thinning regimes for Douglas-fir in south-western Germany. Important management recommendations from this study include thinned stands should be maintained to at least 200 stems ha-1 to maintain high log quality and stand stability. Furthermore, even at stand densities exceeding more than 1,200 trees ha-1 planted trees, artificial pruning may even be necessary to produce high quality logs.