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Eastern White Pine

| Description | Products and Uses | Site Conditions |
| Regeneration | Immediate Treatments | Pests and Diseases |


Range of eastern white pine Eastern white pine often occurs in pure stands, especially in the eastern portion of its range (Figure 6-8), but may have a balsam fir understory in the northern Lake States. It is a pioneer species on abandoned agricultural land and in the northern Lake States may succeed red pine. On drier, sandier soils it approaches permanence as a sustainable forest type. On heavy-textured soils, white pine usually is succeeded by sugar maple-beech-yellow birch, white pine-hemlock, sugar maple-basswood, or white oak types.

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Products and Uses

Eastern white pine is used mainly for lumber. Some songbirds, squirrels, and small mammals feed on its seeds. Bark and foliage are consumed by beaver, snowshoe hares, rabbits, porcupine, red and gray squirrels, mice, and white-tailed deer. Bears use large white pines as escape cover for their cubs and they use young dense stands for shelter during inclement weather.

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Site Conditions

White pine grows on nearly all the soils within its range, but competes best on well-drained sandy soils of low to medium site quality. On medium-textured soils (sandy loams), it will out-produce most other native species in both volume and value. White pine also grows on fine sandy loams and silt-loam soils with either good or impeded drainage when there is no hardwood competition – during the establishment period as on old fields and pastures, burns, and blowdowns. Do not plant white pine on heavy clay soils, poorly drained bottomland sites, and upland depressions. Avoid planting in depressions, bases of slopes, narrow V-shaped valleys, or small openings in dense forests that favor the collection of cool, moist air that encourages the spread of white pine blister rust. Site index curves are in Appendix B-7.

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White pine is intermediate in shade tolerant and here has naturally reproduced beneath oaks.White pine commonly lives 200 years and may live up to 450 years. Sawlog rotations usually are 80 to 120 years, but longer rotations are feasible to produce a stand with old-growth characteristics. Reliable seed production begins when trees are 20 to 30 years old, and good seed years occur every three to five years. Seeds mature in August and September and are dispersed within a month by wind (200 feet within a stand, 700 feet in the open) and squirrels.

Seeds can germinate and survive on both disturbed and undisturbed litter layers. Under full exposure to sunlight, favorable seedbeds include moist mineral soil, polytrichum moss, or a short grass cover of light to medium density. Unfavorable seedbeds include dry mineral soil, pine litter, lichen, and very thin or very thick grass cover. Unfavorable seedbed conditions can be corrected by scarification or overstory shade; however, dense, low shade, such as that cast by slash piles or hardwood brush, hinders seedling survival.

Eastern white pine commonly lives 200 yearsRegenerate white pine by clearcutting, seed tree, shelterwood, or group selection. If there is abundant advanced reproduction, remove the overstory to release the white pines. Clearcutting during or just after heavy seed crops often results in well-stocked stands on light soils. Clearcutting in small patches or stands with seed dispersed from adjacent stands is also possible. Because of competition from other vegetation and poor seed crops, mechanical site preparation and planting may be necessary with clearcutting.

A two-cut shelterwood system probably is the most reliable method for natural regeneration. Ten years before the final harvest, remove 40 to 60 percent of the overstory (no more than 30 to 40 percent of the basal area), preferably ideally in the year before or during a good seed year. Harvest during snowless months to scarify the site and expose mineral soil. Remove hardwood regeneration during the harvest since hardwoods may seriously compete with pine seedlings. After 5 to 10 years, if white pine seedlings are abundant, clearcut the residual overstory. (Delay this harvest until the new white pines are 20 to 25 feet tall if you expect white pine weevil to be a problem.) If white pine regeneration is not satisfactory, you may need to again thin the overstory, control advance hardwood regeneration, and wait another 5 to 10 years before the final harvest. Consider planting white pine seedlings to increase the density to 500 to 600 seedlings an acre.

Mechanical site preparation and planting are required on bare land or in white pine stands that do not naturally regenerate. Plant 2-0 or 3-0 seedlings at rates up to 600 to 800 trees an acre (closer where heavy white pine weevil damage is expected). Plant under a light forest canopy to reduce weevil and white pine blister rust damage.

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Intermediate Treatments

White pine is intermediate in shade tolerance. It will tolerate up to 80 percent shade, but achieves maximum height growth in as little as 45 percent full sunlight. In the seedling stage it is very susceptible to competition because its height growth is slow. If white pine survives to the sapling stage, it becomes a stronger competitor.

Pure natural stands of white pine almost never stagnate. Stagnation occurs when all trees grow at about the same rate, then growth slows due to competition. Because of differences in vigor, age, and site, differentiation into crown and diameter classes usually occurs. You do not need to thin white pine seedling and sapling stands, but if a hardwood overstory develops, partially remove it to maintain 50 percent of full sunlight on the white pine. When trees average six to eight inches DBH, begin thinning and remove the hardwood overstory. Use the stocking chart for eastern white pine in Appendix C-3 as a thinning guide. When stands reach the A level, cut them back to the B level. Basal area after thinning should be about 100 square feet for young stands and 150 square feet for older stands.

Since white pine has persistent branches (that is, the lower branches don't self-prune as the tree ages), prune potential crop trees to a height of 17 feet to develop clear wood. Prune in the dormant season, removing limbs less than two inches in diameter. Maintain at least a 30 percent live-crown ratio. You can remove at least 25 percent of the live crown in open stands and up to 50 percent in closed stands without losses in height growth. Frequent light prunings are preferred to a single heavy pruning. Depending on local markets, pruning may not be economical.

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Pests and Diseases

The most serious pests are white pine blister rust, white pine weevil, root rot, and deer browsing. White pine blister rust can kill trees of any age. A local forester can advise you about the blister rust hazard in your area. Do not plant white pine in high-hazard zones. In medium and low-hazard zones, prune lower branches early to minimize the disease. Start pruning when white pines are more than two feet tall and continue until you have removed all branches within nine feet of the ground. Cut off infected limbs (shown by cankers or flagging of dead needles). Trees with cankers on the main stem or on a branch within four inches of the main stem cannot be saved.

White pine weevils tunnel into the terminal leader, causing crooked or forked stems. If damage is present in small trees, clip wilted terminals in July and destroy the clipped terminals to remove weevils.

Reduce white pine weevil and blister rust damage by regenerating white pines under an overstory of hardwoods and releasing them slowly. When the pines are about 20 to 25 feet tall, remove the overstory.

White pines are a favorite food of deer. Protect seedlings with a budcap (Figure 6-9) or deer repellent.

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