FERIC compared three harvesting systems (full-tree, tree-length, and cut-to length) on a clay site in northwestern Québec. None of the systems limited rutting to below the acceptable target level; however, cut-to-length harvesting (using a three-machine system) showed slightly better results than the other two systems.
In 2000, FERIC estimated the reduction in stem breakage and damage in a hot-logging system in which delimbing was integrated with skidding. The results showed that in a well-synchronized operation, no significant productivity loss occurs. Certain types of damage, notably those that arise at the small end of the stem, can be significantly reduced because the skidder no longer creates piles of wood at roadside before delimbing. During the study, 48% of the stems from a traditional system (with skidding and delimbing in separate phases) exhibited at least one form of damage, compared with only 27% in the integrated system.
Integration of the extraction and delimbing phases in full-tree harvesting allows the use of grapple skidders to return the delimbing slash to the cutover as soon as it is produced. In the operations FERIC observed, this handling of the slash had little or no effect on skidder and delimber productivity.