Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris P. Mill.) Restoration Using Herbicides: Overstory and Understory Vegetation Responses on a Coastal Plain Flatwoods Site in Florida, U.S.A.


S. Jose, email sjose@ufl.edu


A study was conducted on a Coastal Plain flatwoods site in Florida to determine the effects of common forestry herbicides on Longleaf pine seedling survival and growth and on the understory vegetation. Following removal of the overstory slash pine, five low-rate herbicide treatments were applied over the top of planted Longleaf pine seedlings to provide short-term understory vegetation control and accelerate seedling growth. The objective was to increase Longleaf pine growth by reducing the shrub competition while increasing the herbaceous ground cover. Despite causing reduction in seedling survival over the control treatment, imazapyr (0.21 ae kg/ha) resulted in the highest seedling growth (height and volume). The significant reduction of shrub cover, density, and height by imazapyr was believed to be responsible for the improved seedling growth in this treatment. Both hexazinone (0.56 ai kg/ha) and sulfometuron methyl (0.26 ai kg/ha) + hexazinone (0.56 ai kg/ha) treatments also reduced cover of Runner oak, a major shrub species, but the response was evident only 8 months after treatment. Although sulfometuron methyl (0.26 ai kg/ha) and sulfometuron methyl + hexazinone treatments did not result in any significant change in overall grass, forb, and shrub cover, both treatments resulted in greater Longleaf pine growth compared to the control. None of the herbicides significantly affected the major understory grasses and forbs. Overall, imazapyr provided the best desired results with significant increase in seedling growth and better control of shrub species with no significant effects on grass and other herbaceous species cover.