The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of fertilizer and understory vegetation control (herbicide and prescribed fire) on mature tree physiology and to link observed physiological responses with tree growth. Photosynthetic rate (photosynthesis), transpiration, stomatal conductance, stem diameter, and crown area were measured in two midrotation loblolly pine plantations in East Texas. Rates of photosynthesis, E and gs for the midsummer measurements were significantly reduced by fertilizer treatments on both sites. Drought in east Texas during the last 3 years may have influenced this result. Trees receiving fire at the site with a comparatively more dense live pre-treatment understory exhibited higher rates of photosynthesis; however, prescribed fire had no positive effect on growth. Herbicide treatment significantly increased the change in diameter growth of unfertilized trees at both sites between 1999-2001 by an average of 5 percent, but had no effect on growth of fertilized trees. Increase in diameter growth per unit crown area was significantly greater in unfertilized trees receiving herbicide than in controls.
Goodwin, Emily J.; Marino, Lisa M.; Williams, Hans H.; Oswald, Brian P.; and Farrish, Kenneth W., "Physiological and Growth Responses of Midrotation Loblolly Pine to Treatments of Fire, Herbicide, and Fertilizer" (2004). Faculty Publications. 198.