Norway spruce cones

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#1)  Norway spruce cones

Postby PAwildernessadvocate » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:59 am

If one were to gather many Norway spruce cones off the ground in the fall that generally look like this:

               
                       
6703176497_e874862c9f_b.jpg
                                       
               


Or maybe this (somewhat open):

               
                       
458fb1d7a450296a3b9413dd1fb2ac70.jpg
                                       
               


And then took and randomly and widely broadcast the cones on open ground elsewhere where it is hoped Norway spruce trees could be grown, could much success be hoped for? Would the seeds just rot in the cone on the ground, or would at least some germinate and begin to grow seedlings? Or do you have to go to all the trouble of drying the cones out, extracting the seeds, and carefully planting each individual seed etc.?

I am also thinking of Scotch pine.
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#2)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby Joe » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:52 am

I don't know the answer but it sure would be nice if this species spread from planted trees. At my family home- we had 4 behind the house- and the squirrels loved those cones. The seeds must be particularly tasty. I don't think it spread easily. I've seen a few that clearly seeded in on their own- next to NS plantations- but never far from them.
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#3)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby jamesrobertsmith » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:28 am

I have to say, the Norway spruce is probably my favorite non-native species. It's just so damned pretty. Whenever we go to West Virginia we see a fair number of them.

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#4)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby dbhguru » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:40 am

James Robert, Joe, et. al.,

  I am an unabahsed fan of Norway spruce, and we have accrued some real bragging rights for the species here in the Bay State. Long time NTS and AF National Cadre member John Eichholz recently returned to Buckland State Forest in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. BSF is a small inconspicuous forest in the Berkshire uplands, hardly a bleep on the radar scope, but it harbors a secret. This woodland is home to the tallest accurately measured Norway spruce we know about in the USA. At 154.6 feet, the spruce is uno numero! Close by is the best we've done for European larch, a tree that measures 149.9 feet. It will undoubtedly surpass 150 ft this growing season. There are other 140 Norways in the stand. I'm unsure bout larches. We have plenty of sites in MA with Norways over 120 feet with a very few reaching to 130, but this pocket of Norways and larches, tucked in at the base of a ridge outperform all others, and by a lot. We have no explanation for their extraordinary growth achievements.

  Now you would think that resource managers in DCR would be curious about these trees - perhaps collect seeds, but alas, most live in a catatonic state leading to a complete lack of curiosity. Fortunately, there is one person who doesn't fit such an unflattering description and I hope to convince him to visit the stand and see the trees.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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#5)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby Joe » Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:51 pm

dbhguru wrote:
  Now you would think that resource managers in DCR would be curious about these trees - perhaps collect seeds, but alas, most live in a catatonic state leading to a complete lack of curiosity. Fortunately, there is one person who doesn't fit such an unflattering description and I hope to convince him to visit the stand and see the trees.

Bob


The DCR relentlessly clearcut NS plantations in the Berkshires, claiming they were deteriorating- which is nothing but a big, fat lie. I used to hike in them because I liked them so much. The state never bothered to thin them- so when they got old, they aren't nearly as vigorous as they could have been- and every stand has some defective trees (from a market point of view)- but if I had been managing them I could have thinned them- rather than wipe them out. It's not as if the new growth will be high value red oak, sugar maple and black cherry- mostly it'll be pin cherry, white and grey birch, a mix of other species, lots of weedy vegetation and plenty of invasive species.

One huge advantage of keeping them is that they are very, very dense and therefore extremely good for winter cover for all wildlife. Denser, I'd say, than hemlock stands.

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#6)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby gnmcmartin » Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:58 pm

PA wildernessadvocate and NS lovers generally:

  As for spreading cones on the ground for reproduction, maybe. The big issue is the environment for the seedlings to grow once they germinate.  Norway spruce seedlings do not compete well with weeds and grasses--not nearly as well as white pine.  But, of course, on the richer heavier soils where the weed and grass competition is intense, white pine also reproduces poorly, if at all.

  So, it is best to prepare a "seed bed," and one way to do that is to remove weeds and grass, plant the seeds, and then use some light mulch.

  You can also grow NS seeds under the cover of other conifers--if the shade is not too intense. Cover them with just a tiny bit of soil, and some needles. Here the weed problem is very slight, and the little guys can get a start.  Then you can transplant them out into the open, and keep the weeds controlled--they should not be covered/shaded. If you are in a hotter and drier area, you will have to water them a bit to help them get established once transplanted.

  If you want to collect seed, the best/easiest way is to gather up the cones that the squirrels cut down.  They may not be fully mature, but they will be close.  To complete their "maturation," place them in the open air with about 3 hours of sun per day.  More is not better, and could dry them out too fast. Of course, mice and squirrels will get them, so they need protection from that.  I collected several hundred cones--maybe a thousand--years ago for Dr. John Genys, who was doing a provenance trial.  He gave me the instructions, and germination turned out to be very, very high.

  In the mountains of MD where my timberland is, NS reproduces effectively where there is the appropriate "ground."  I have no difficulty finding seedlings for transplanting.  In most areas of my timberland I find as many NS seedlings as white pine.

  As for the Buckland NS:  they may be growing in a particularly favorable environment generally, and very good soil specifically.  Also, they may be an especially good strain for that area.  Norway spruce grows over a very wide area in Europe with considerable climatic variation, and as a result, some strains are much better than others for different places in the US. Can anyone tell me about the cones from the trees in Buckland? --their length, the color, and/or any other characteristics that may make them different from the cones you see on other NS?  

  The best NS I have seen in the relatively nearby PA, MD, WV, VA area was a stand growing near Glady, WV. These trees produced cones unlike any others I have seen in this general area.  Most NS planted during the CCC period were from the Black Forest in Germany, but the cones from these trees near Glady were radically different, indicating a completely different seed source. If someone has the time and patience, my guess is that the records for the Buckland planting could be found, and they would probably indicate the seed source.

  As for NS stands deteriorating at this point--nuts. Except perhaps poor strains on poor soils.  As for thinning--not needed for the ultimate health of the stand, just like white pine. Dr. Edwin White, former Dean of Research at SUNY Syracuse--now retired, but still available to talk to, is a great advocate for NS planting.  He directed 4 research studies of NS, including growth curves and site factors. A call to the Department of Environmental Science and Forestry will get you copies.

   He and I had a long conversation once about NS, covering different aspects of its growth and management.  He told me with great confidence, that NS does not need any thinning to maintain the health of a plantation.  That just like white pine, NS asserts dominance very effectively, and there is no tendency for stands, no matter what the initial planting density, to stagnate.  Of course, careful thinning can be a benefit, and can enhance the appearance of a stand in the near and intermediate term. But in the very long term, thinning will make little difference.

 Unthinned stands will tend, for many years, to be "choked" with overtopped trees. many of them dead or dying. This was the condition of the stand near Glady, WV that was so incredibly fine.  The "average person" walking into that stand would have thought, "what a mess," but when I first saw it, and looked up at the towering dominant trees, with their graceful "curtains" of foliage "decorating" this forest cathedral, I was stunned into silence and awe, and was not distracted by the "mess" underneath.

  Unfortunately, this stand was cut. I would be surprised if the potential was not for 175 feet, and probably more. The main factor was the strain, the seed source/provenance.  The soil, which I looked up, was a class III, which is very ordinary, and the slope was SW.  The elevation was about 3,500 feet, but I would have to check that. This stand should have been protected, and used as a seed source.  I collected some seedlings, and I have three growing here in Winchester, VA, and they are doing very, very well here, even though the climate is quite different. One, especially, is a stunner for the beauty of its foliage--by far the best I have here out of about 400 from 4 different provenances. In the spring especially, with the fresh green growth, it is as pretty as anything I have ever seen on any tree.

  --Gaines
Last edited by gnmcmartin on Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#7)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby dbhguru » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:21 pm

Gaines,

  Good information and good advice. I'll ask about the seed source of the Buckland Norway spruce. Also, may I send a copy of your post to some of the State Bureau of Forestry people who might find it informative?

Bob
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#8)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby gnmcmartin » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:35 am

Bob:

  Of course.

  --Gaines
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#9)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby Joe » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:48 am

dbhguru wrote:Gaines,

  Good information and good advice. I'll ask about the seed source of the Buckland Norway spruce. Also, may I send a copy of your post to some of the State Bureau of Forestry people who might find it informative?

Bob


Bob, I'd be shocked if the DCR has a clue about the seed source. They'll probably say, "Norway, of course". duh....
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#10)  Re: Norway spruce cones

Postby PAwildernessadvocate » Mon Apr 17, 2017 4:57 pm

gnmcmartin wrote:PA wildernessadvocate and NS lovers generally:

  As for spreading cones on the ground for reproduction, maybe. The big issue is the environment for the seedlings to grow once they germinate.  Norway spruce seedlings do not compete well with weeds and grasses--not nearly as well as white pine.  But, of course, on the richer heavier soils where the weed and grass competition is intense, white pine also reproduces poorly, if at all.

  --Gaines


Thanks Gaines for your informative reply! Even if only three seedlings grow for every 100 cones distributed for the specific site I am thinking of the strategy would be successful.
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