John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center

Superintendent: Owen T. Burney

Location: Mora, NM

Main Interest and Function:

Since 1972, the JTH Forestry Research Center has conducted solution-based research focused on nursery technologies, tree improvement, and eco-physiology of young forest trees to facilitate ecological restoration after fires, mining operations, and other forest disturbances.

Seedling characteristics, both in the nursery and field, are characterized by morphological and physiological measurements, which include:


  • Height (base of needles/bud of terminal shoot)
  • Root Collar Caliper
  • Survival/Days to Mortality
  • Biomass/Volume (Root/Shoot/Leaf Dry Weight; Root/Shoot Volume; R:S)
  • Absolute Leaf Area/Specific Leaf Mass
  • Stomatal Density
  • Root Fibrosity
  • Root Architecture
  • Visual Health Assessment


  • Predawn Xylem Water Potential
  • Stomatal Conductance
  • Physiologically Active Xylem
  • Hydraulically Active/Viable Xylem Tissue Dimension and Density (Light Microscopy)
  • 6200–CO2 Gas Exchange
  • Tissue NPK (Leaf, Stem, Root)
  • Carbohydrate (Structural; Soluble; Proteins)

Additional measurements are taken on the environmental conditions where these seedlings grow that includes:

  • Soil structure and chemistry
  • Light
  • Water
  • Temperature
  • Greenhouses–8,000 sq. ft. of environmentally controlled temperature, light, and irrigation
  • Seed Storage Freezer – seed bank for native forest tree species
  • Field Equipment

    • Rangefinder – tree heights
    • Prism – 90 degree plot layout
    • Haglof Plot Distance – plot center estimate
    • Increment Borer – determines age of tree
    • DBH tape – measures diameter at breast height
    • Calipers – measures diameter at breast height
  • General Laboratory Preparation Equipment

    • Incubator
    • Block Heater
    • Micro-centrifuge
    • Vortex Mixer
    • Vortex Rotator
    • Wiley Mill–grinding samples for analytical preparation
    • Mixing Hot plates
    • Water Bath
    • Fume/Hazardous Chemical Hood
    • Soil Sieves
    • Micropipettes
    • Glassware (various)
  • Weighing Scales – range from 0.1mg to 1kg
  • Spectrophotometer – color metric analysis
  • Microscope – computer interface
  • Allegro/Juniper System – field data logger
  • Drying Oven – to dry plant and soil samples for analysis
  • Water Filter (DI) – used in various lab methods
  • pH Meter – analyze water and soil
  • PAR Meter – photosynthetically active radiation used in plant growth
  • Electrical Conductivity (EC) Meter – measures salinity in soil and water
  • Leaf Porometer – measure stomatal conductance
  • TDR Soil Moisture Probe – measures soil moisture by percentage
  • Leaf Area Scanner – calculates leaf area of samples
  • Pressure Chamber – measure plant moisture stress

All equipment is used for research as well as teaching opportunities for graduate students.

The JTH Forestry Research Center is available and interested in commercial opportunities.