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Study of Oak Regeneration Yielding Eye-Opening Conclusions

[Pennsylvania] After more than a decade of closely monitoring regeneration of oak trees on forest tracts around Pennsylvania, researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have begun to understand why stands of the state’s most important tree are not replacing themselves after they are harvested. Amid a raging debate between hunters angry about deer numbers being reduced by the Pennsylvania Game Commission to spur oak regeneration and state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials — who claim too many deer have over-browsed forest habitat — scientists in Penn State’s School of Forest Resources have quietly been measuring the growth of young oaks for 11 years. Perhaps the most surprising conclusion to be drawn from the research, according to Steiner, is that conditions at the time of harvest play a very large role in the development of the future stand. To achieve reliable regeneration, fencing of oak stands to keep deer out should occur before harvest. “But we have also disproved a widespread notion that oak seedlings must be large at the time of overstory harvest in order to succeed in the next stand. Steiner and Finley believe the most important thing to come from their work with DCNR is an oak-stocking guide that accurately predicts regeneration.

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes





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