Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata (Mill.)) can sprout after stem injury or top kill. Currently, evidence regarding the effects of seedling age and disturbance timing on sprouting potential are limited. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of clipping and season of burning on shortleaf pine seedling survival, number of sprouts, and total seedling height at three different seedling ages. Treatments included: a March clip, an April burn, a July burn, a November burn, and a control. All treatments were applied to 1-, 2-, and 3-yr-old planted shortleaf pine seedlings located in Morgan County, TN. Seedling survival did not differ by season of burning for any age tested. Sprout production of early season disturbances were similar for each age tested. Total heights of sprouts were greater with treatments conducted early in the growing season rather than later for the second and third growing years, but not the first year. Some 2-yr-old seedlings burned in November and most 3-yr-old burn seedlings burned in either burn treatment were large enough that they were not top-killed by the treatment burns. Burning of artificially regenerated shortleaf pine seedlings should be delayed for at least 3 yrs after planting in the Cumberland Plateau and Mountains regions to reduce top-kill rates, growth losses, and mortality experienced by younger seedlings.
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