Photo of trees


Featured Research

Informing Oak Silvicultural Practice through Study of Growth and Regeneration

A McIntire-Stennis supported project

Oaks are responsible for generating billions of dollars to the economy of Kentucky and surrounding states. Oak is used in a wide range of products, from paper and pallets to bourbon barrels, the latter produced from white oak, a dominant species in the central hardwood region and a focus species of research at the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. Unfortunately, inadequacy in the natural regeneration of several oak species, including white oak, are predicted to result in long-term issues with the sustainability of oak forests, the availability of oak timber, and a reduction in a valuable food for wildlife.

McIntire-Stennis supported research aims to develop management (silvicultural) practices to directly enhance the sustainability of oak forests. Our work focuses on foundational stand yield relationships and the development of thinning and regeneration practices. Our science can be applied at key phases of an oak forest’s lifecycle to have an immediate impact on stabilizing the growth and drain of our oak resources.

Photo of oak seedling


The work is endorsed by the White Oak Initiative and completed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest, Forest Health Research and Education Center, Berea College, and the University of Vermont.


Science has resulted in the development of advanced techniques to culture oaks and is building our foundational understanding of oak regeneration, growth, and development.

Advanced Practices

developed including gap-based systems and how to apply shelterwood techniques to enhance oak regeneration.



long-term evaluation of individual tree and stand response to thinning within the Central Hardwood Region.


1,200 acres

annually being managed using scientifically based practices developed or investigated by this project.

About McIntire-Stennis

The McIntire-Stennis program, a unique federal-state partnership, cultivates and delivers forestry and natural resource innovations for a better future. By advancing research and education that increases the understanding of emerging challenges and fosters the development of relevant solutions, the McIntire-Stennis program has ensured healthy resilient forests and communities and an exceptional natural resources workforce since 1962.

Additional Research

Effect of grading technique on forest productivity of high-value tree species in reforested surface mine lands

In 1997, the University of Kentucky began research on the Starfire Mine in Perry County, Kentucky in order to test the effects of surface grading technique and organic soil...Read more.


Formulating an expanding-gap regeneration system for oak dominated stands

Although Femelschlag systems are used throughout Europe, few documented examples of these expanding-gap shelterwood practices exist in North American oak forests. In 2012, a replicated study...Read more.

Modeling long-term stand density, growth, and recruitment relationships in upland oak stands of central hardwood forest region

This study utilizes four USDA Forest Service thinning experiments established more than 50 years ago in Kentucky and Ohio. Read more.