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    Highly mechanized systems utilizing rubber-tired skidders, feller-bunchers, and knuckleboom loaders are the predominant type of timber harvesting operation in the southern United States. These systems, which handle the wood in tree-length form, are highly productive and very efficient, especially for large tracts of timber. Thinnings constitute an increasing proportion of the timber harvest in the South, as more and more pine plantations planted in the last 10 to 15 years reach mid-rotation age. During that same period, the trend toward smaller forest land ownership size has intensified (DeCoster, 1998; Greene et al., 1997). Taken in combination, these trends mean that there is an increasing need for harvesting operations for small& tract, low volume applications, especially pine plantation thinnings. Large-scale mechanized systems are not well-suited for harvesting smaller, lower volume tracts because of the time and expense involved with moving. Also, because of the size and number of machines, mechar&ed systems can resul: in considerable site impacts, an increasing concern to the nonindustrial private forest (NPF) landowners that own the majority of the forest land in the South. Lower capital systems are smaller in physical size and have lower overhead costs, making them better suited for Iow volume harvests on private land because moving costs and site impacts are reduced.

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    Wilhoit, John; Ling, Qingyue; Rummer, Robert. 1999. Low-Capital Systems for Thinning Pine Plantations. Forestry Engineering for Tomorrow, Harvesting Techical Papers, June 28-30 1999

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