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Improvement Cutting in A Hardwood Stand

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Hardwood stands that have not been thinned or weeded in the first several decades of forest development contain trees of many species, conditions, and sizes. Improvement cutting generally removes inferior stems to favor the best-formed and healthiest trees of desirable species for the future.

In the lower center the improvement cutting is in progress, resulting in piles of fuelwood logs.

Foresters call a tree like the tall one in the center-left background a "wolf" tree: its size and wide-spreading branches indicate that it had grown under open conditions in the past. A remnant from an earlier stand, this tree was left standing because it was deemed unsound or of too little value to be worth harvesting. Now it is being killed in place, or "girdled," so that it will not compete with the younger, growing stand.

Local variations demand that all management activity be undertaken with careful attention to site and forest condition as well as history.