Hardwood Management

Hardwood trees, also called deciduous trees, are those that lose their leaves every year. In Virginia, nearly 80% of forests, or 12.6 million acres, are in hardwood or mixed hardwood-pine forests. A wide variety of native hardwood trees grow in Virginia, with nearly 100 different species present. Oak, hickory, yellow-poplar, maple, walnut, elm, ash, and dogwood are but a few of the species found in the Commonwealth. Hardwoods are important and prized for many reasons. They provide a valuable timber resource for landowners due to the strong and diverse industry in Virginia. Examples of hardwood forest products include furniture, flooring, cabinets, pallets, railroad ties, barrels, and fine paper. Hardwood trees are highly important to wildlife for food (nuts, acorns, and tender shoots), and for shelter and nesting habitat. They also play a critical role in protecting watersheds by filtering water, providing clean air, filtering out pollutants, and capturing and storing large amounts of carbon. Whether light green in the early spring, or brilliantly colored in the fall, hardwoods provide outstanding scenic views and outdoor recreation for which Virginia is famous.

Forest management is the skillful use of practices or treatments to accomplish a desired purpose or end. Good management helps to achieve the many benefits that hardwood forests can provide. Because of the large variety of trees with differing characteristics, management of hardwood forests can be complex. Also, hardwood forests, in general, grow and mature more slowly than pine forests. Because of these factors, it is very important for landowners to learn about their forests first, and then carefully plan before taking action. Professional foresters, trained in the science and art of managing forests (silviculture), can guide landowners in planning and applying practices that will meet landowner’s objectives and assure healthy, productive forests for the future.

Virginia Department of Forestry leads Virginia’s Hardwood Management Initiative to improve hardwood management and ensure continued supply into the future.


Additional Resources

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Crop Tree Release Improves Competitiveness of Northern Red Oak Growing in Association with Black Cherry
Crop Tree Release Improves Competitiveness of Northern Red Oak Growing in Association with Black CherryNJAF 23(2)

In 1993, a crop tree study was established in a pole-sized stand consisting of black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.). Ten-year mean height growth of northern red oak exceeded that of released black cherry, but not that of unreleased black cherry crop trees. Crown expansion and diameter at breast height (dbh) growth also increased as a result of crop tree release for both species, but black cherry clear stem development was suppressed. Based on increment core analysis, dbh growth of released northern red oak crop trees in 2003 was about twice that of unreleased northern red oak, although black cherry treatment related differences in radial growth were no longer present. Ten years after crop tree release, northern red oak crown class distribution improved and black cherry crown class distribution was unchanged. These results suggest crop tree management will improve northern red oak competitiveness in pole-sized stands when growing in association with black cherry and, perhaps, other fast growing species. By Thomas M. Schuler.

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Effect of Thinning on Height and Diameter Growth of Oak and Yellow-Poplar Saplings
Effect of Thinning on Height and Diameter Growth of Oak and Yellow-Poplar SaplingsNE-173

Studying the response to thinning of a 7- to 9-year-old upland hardwood sapling stand, we found that height growth of yellow-poplar and oak trees was markedly reduced by heavy thinning. This suggests that stand density should be carefully controlled to achieve maximum benefit from thinnings in very young stands. By Rufus H. Allen, Jr. and David A. Marquis.

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Evaluating Initial Responses of Natural and Underplanted Oak Reproduction and a Shade-Tolerant Competitor to Midstory Removal
Evaluating Initial Responses of Natural and Underplanted Oak Reproduction and a Shade-Tolerant Competitor to Midstory Removal

This study describes growth 6 years after mid-story removal of planted and natural black oak, northern red oak, and white oak, and natural red maple competition. Article by Jared M. Craig, John M. Lhotka, Jeffrey W. Stringer, Society of American Foresters. Forest Science, Volume 60, Issue 6, December 2014, Pages 1164–1171.

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Hardwood Planting Guide
Hardwood Planting GuideP00137

Brochure illustrates and explains proper planting techniques for planting bare-root hardwood seedlings. Printed copies available.

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Intensity of Precommercial Crop-Tree Release Increases Diameter and Crown Growth in Upland Hardwoods
Intensity of Precommercial Crop-Tree Release Increases Diameter and Crown Growth in Upland HardwoodsNE-197

In 1988, seven study areas were established in Connecticut to examine the effects of precommercial crop tree release on bole and crown growth. Relative to unreleased trees, 4-yr diameter growth of northern red oak increased by 86%, black/scarlet oak by 65%, red maple by 56%, and black birch by 52%. Release slowed height growth of dominant and codominant oaks for only the first 2 yr. In sapling stands with few oaks in upper canopy positions, precommercial release could be used to augment oak density. Survival and diameter growth of oaks in the intermediate and suppressed crown classes increased with release intensity. Release also increased height growth of northern red oak in the suppressed crown classes. By Jeffrey S. Ward.

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Seedling Price Guide
Seedling Price GuideP00139

Brochure provides a simple listing of seedling species available for sale at our state Nurseries and current pricing. For more detailed species information, see our Web Store. Customers can order on-line at our Web Store or by mail with the included order form. Printed copies available.

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Tree Seedling and Understory Plant Presence in Deer Exclosures on the Matthews State Forest
Tree Seedling and Understory Plant Presence in Deer Exclosures on the Matthews State ForestCNRE-138NP

The purpose of this case study was to determine the impact of deer on the composition of the herbaceous and regeneration layer in two stands in the Matthews State Forest. This report summarizes the findings of this case study.

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VDOF Hardwood Sustainablity Strategy
VDOF Hardwood Sustainablity Strategy

Summary document of VDOF’s hardwood sustainability strategy, including a description of hardwood resources, concerns and issues, and strategies.

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