Sitka spruce or lodgepole pine? A financial appraisal.

  • M.L Carey Forest and Wildlife Service, Sidmonton Place, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Republic of Ireland.
  • E. Griffin Forest and Wildlife Service, Sidmonton Place, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Republic of Ireland.
Keywords: Mixtures, nitrogen fixing, fertilisers, Japanese larch, Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, sandstone, peat, mineral soils, furze, weed control, conifers, Picea sitchensis, Pinus contorta, Larix kaempferi.


Problems arise in growing Sitka spruce on certain deep peat and Old Red Sandstone derived mineral soils due to lack of available soil nitrogen. Results from a number of experiments show that the species responds well in growth to nitrogen application in these situations. The object of this study was to make a financial comparison between growing Sitka spruce. using fertiliser nitrogen , and lodgepole pine which grows vigorously without any inputs of nitrogen. Japanese larch/Sitka spruce mixtures are also included in the appraisal. The results suggest that the economics of growing pure crops of Sitka spruce on impoverished O.R.S. mineral soils using fertiliser nitrogen are questionable. Lodgepole pine or Sitka spruce/Japanese larch mixtures would appear more attractive options. However, the lower nitrogen inputs necessary to sustain production on some peat soils, and the lower production potential of the lodgepole pine, result in the spruce being the far more attractive option under certain circumstances, particularly if the price of nitrogen does not increase in real terms. The larch/spruce mixture appears an attractive proposition on O.R.S. mineral soils.
How to Cite
Carey, M. and Griffin, E. (1981) “Sitka spruce or lodgepole pine? A financial appraisal.”, Irish Forestry. Available at: (Accessed: 21June2024).