Trade-offs between life-history traits are common in plants, and those involving growth and reproduction may be evident during mast years. The nutlike seeds of the stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) stand out among the most appreciated Mediterranean forest products, but its lengthy reproductive cycle (3 year seed development) makes the identification of masting mechanisms challenging. In the Spanish Northern Plateau, stone pine woodlands are managed as multifunctional forests.
Are timber and nut production compatible management goals in this region? Time series since 1960 for ring-width and cone yield were analysed for characterising temporal patterns. At tree level, allocation of resources to reproductive and non-reproductive (aboveground) biomass was equivalent for an average year, but harvest index exceeded 80% during mast years. These large yields, however, did not impose a penalty on aboveground biomass increment, but both traits were strongly and positively correlated, although with a 3-year lag. Years favouring a high growth coincided with large conelet setting leading to abundant seed rains to occur three years later, which pointed to key environmental drivers common to both traits, namely climate during that year. Our results provide evidence for the proposed link between masting and growth, and suggest that resources are not diverted from growth during cone filling in stone pine. We conclude that timber production and nut production are perfectly compatible in this species.