The planting job is the most important event in a pine plantation's existence. Success depends on a good planting job.
However, it is often necessary to help control herbaceous and/or woody competition during the first one- to three years of the plantation's life. Such competition can completely negate the benefits of a good planting job, choke out the pines and in effect kill the plantation.
In a longleaf stand, prescribed fire can be used with excellent results. But with young loblolly pine, fire is not an option, so it becomes necessary to utilize herbicides to control the unwanted vegetation.
Normally, only one application is needed to control the undesirable vegetation and start "resetting" the stage of the understory to more desirable (and less competitive) weeds and forbs. Once the stand gets older, prescribed fire can be used (but very carefully in loblolly!)
In yearling plantations and especially in pasture plantings, a four-wheeler can be used to band spray over the top of the young pines. In larger and/or older plantations, it is more efficient to use a skidder or tractor mounted spray rig, or helicopter.
Removing undesirable vegetation not only will help reduce competition against the crop trees, which will promote growth and vigor, but can also create more wildlife habitat. Deer and Turkey will feast on the succulent growth that resprout and even Quail can benefit from more careful and detailed herbicide applications. Bird populations will increase as the proportion of insects likewise increase from the multitudes of wildflowers and small plants that sprout up.
Planning and Supervision of Herbaceous and Woody Competition Control