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CRC for Forestry News 11 - Gippsland workshop

More than 25 researchers and plantation managers attended a Programme 2 workshop and field tour in December to review CRC silvicultural research that has examined production of sawlogs and veneer logs in Eucalyptus globulus and E. nitens.  

The two-day event included workshop sessions at Churchill, Victoria, and visits to two research field trials within the Gippsland eucalypt plantation estate of Hancock Victoria Plantations.

The silvicultural research trial at Carrajung, in the Strzelecki Ranges, examines the combined influences of pruning, thinning and fertiliser treatments, imposed at three years of age, on the growth and water use of E. nitens on a highly productive site.  University of Melbourne researcher Dr David Forrester, who led the study, explained that pruning leads to a greater reduction of growth in thinned stands because lower canopies of unpruned trees in the unthinned stands are shaded and contribute less to tree growth than lower canopies in the thinned stands. Nonetheless, thinning had the greatest impact on tree growth in this experiment. Five years after thinning, the dominant ‘final crop’ trees in the thinned, unfertilised treatment area were larger in diameter than those in the unthinned, unpruned fertilised treatment. The study shows how these treatments could be applied to design more efficient and faster growing plantations.  

Gippsland article photo smallMeasuring log straightness in E. globulus using image-processing software

By the age of nine years, the trees on this highly productive site had attained an impressive size. Dr Forrester is now researching how different silvicultural treatments interact on less productive sites. Other presentations during the workshop also focused on the effects of thinning, pruning and fertiliser on wood properties and log value.  

Participants also visited an interesting trial of E. globulus near Boolarra, conducted by the Southern Tree Breeding Association. The area had been thinned and pruned at four years of age to convert it to a ‘sawlog’ regime in order to study the genetic control of sawlog and veneer traits. CRC researchers from the University of Tasmania and the University of Melbourne have assessed stem straightness in this trial, and in a sister trial in western Victoria. UTAS researcher David Blackburn reported that there are good prospects to improve straightness in E. globulus plantations grown for solid wood by breeding – an important finding as log straightness can enhance wood recovery and value in this species. Newly developed methods for objective assessment of log straightness were presented.

These important field trials will increase our understanding of how silviculture and genetics determine log, stand and product value.  

CRC participants can access the workshop presentations on the Members Website.