A tending operation done in a sapling crop, involving the removal of inferior growth including individuals of favored species, climbers, etc., when they are interfering with better grown individuals of the favored species.
In cleaning, shrubs, individuals of inferior species, malformed or diseased, singling of favored species and climber cutting are done for the following objectives:
- To reduce root competition and transpirational water
- To improve light conditions
- To provide adequate space for the growth of crops
The competition becomes so immense that there will be crown differentiation in the stand in the later stage. Some reach at dominant and dominated level, while others suppressed at lowest canopy. To observe uniform growth of a forest stand, cleaning operations are timely carried out.
Cleaning is done when the crops reach at sapling stage. At sapling stage, plants compete each other to reach the top in order to obtain the light. The best time for cleaning is determined by the growth season of favored species, which is during the monsoon. It is certainly difficult to do the activities in the rainy season; hence cleaning is done before the onset of monsoon.
The removal of any species from the forest is determined by the degree of interference with other species. The frequency of cleaning depends upon the intensity and rate of growth of shrubs after cutting. The cuttings should be done at heights that one feels comfortable during the activity but the leftover should always be at lower height than the crop species. It is not always necessary to clean the inferior species unless plants hamper the favored ones. Retaining them in such situation helps to maintain soil moisture in the locality.
Cutting near the ground level results in vigorous coppice shoots, which have to be discouraged and as a result it would be more expensive.
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