volume: 41, issue:
Demand for higher value-added wood products stimulates research for new, mainly mechanized, thinning operations in order to increase productivity and reduce production costs. In this context, the aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of distance between strip roads on forwarder productivity and costs of thinning operations in Pinus taeda stands. The study was carried out in 10-year-old Pinus taeda stands located in Parana State, Brazil. Two thinning methods were evaluated: (1) TH5: systematic harvest in every fifth tree row and selective harvest in adjacent rows; and (2) TH7: systematic harvest in every seventh tree row and selective harvest in adjacent rows. Working cycle times, productivity and costs were determined through a time-motion study of the forwarder. The additional variables evaluated were wood assortments (industrial wood and energy wood) and extraction distances (50, 100, 150 and 200 m), and mean values were compared between thinning methods using t tests for independent samples (α=0.05). Loading and unloading elements consumed the most time in the working cycle, with lower participation time in TH7 due to greater availability of logs along the strip roads (higher pile volumes), influencing total cycle time up to the mean distance of 150 m for both assortments. TH7 consequently showed 6% higher productivity, its energy yield was 5.3% lower and its production cost was 3.0% lower.