The increasing use of intensive plantation management in the South has led to inferences that natural pine stands are unacceptably inferior in terms of fiber production, rotation length, wood quality, and regeneration. In this paper, we have compiled information from studies of different silvicultural practices in southern pine stands of natural origin to provide a more meaningful comparison with plantations. Research has shown that aggressive precommercial and commercial thinning regimes in stands of natural origin and the careful retention of high-quality residual stems dramatically closes the productivity gap. In addition, natural-origin pine stands often provide other products and compositional, structural, and esthetic values that exceed those of plantations. Although plantations have become an increasingly important element of silviculture, most southern pine forests will remain in stands of natural origin and must be managed appropriately to help ensure future timber supplies and environmental integrity.
Bragg, Don C.; Guldin, James M.; Shelton, Michael G. 2006. Stacking the log deck, or some fallacies about natural pine managment. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-92. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 37-41