Potential tall trees?

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#21)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:39 pm

There isn't much left of NW spruce plantations here in Mass. since most were on state land and some large watersheds- and most has been cut. I did a lot of work decades ago in NWS plantations on the Pittsfield, MA watershed and don't recall seeing it. Maybe there were a few- but nothing like in pine stands. Perhaps because the NW was planted so dense- if they got weeviled, it wouldn't have been as noticeable as it is on pines. Here, if a pine stand has it- most trees are weeviled. Yet, some stands don't have it all. The financial damage is severe- essentially turning the tree from a potential sawlog provider to pulp or chip  material. We foresters would love to "clean up" these weeviled pines- by the millions in this state- but the enviros think chipping such wood for biomass is a terrible thing- one of the worse things ever done by mankind. They'd prefer to have forests severely weeviled and financially worthless to the owner. (along with trees damaged by beech bark disease, hemlock wooly adelgid, maples and ash damaged by borers, etc.)
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#22)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby wisconsitom » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:32 pm

NS definitely does "get weeviled" here in Wisconsin.  We planted roughly equal numbers of white pine, red pine, Norway spruce and a hybrid larch and a number of the spruce have had their leaders destroyed.  But like Gaines has said, NS does an especially good job at re-leadering itself.  My son and I just went through our oldest bunch-planted in 08-and selected for the best leader in affected NS.  It wasn't such a bad job.  Just a few hours with a long pole pruner is all it took.  Mileages will vary by size of planting, of course.

In some trees, by the time you get to them, significant regrowth has already occurred.  It can be a little hard to describe in writing, but there is a break point between some that you know you can help by making a snip or two, and some where the tree is still trying to sort itself out and where it seems best to let that continue for another year or two before revisiting with that pole pruner.  So we had some of each.

The white pine here are another story.  When we bought the land, the wooded part was largely (and still is) comprised of N. white cedar, white pine, and paper birch.  The white pines are unfortunately largely double and triple-topped junk, although some perfectly good ones exist also.  I know Gaines, who must have had almost super-human gumption back in the day, would have "fixed" these trees as he did do on his land.  We're just living with them as they are.  But for the newly planted trees, so far, it has been the NS, not the white pines getting hammered.  Between our little fix-it sessions and that species' general ease of re-leadering itself, I think these are still going to be OK.  The larch?  forget about it.  Those things grow fast!  These are Larix marschlinsii, AKA "Dunkelm" larch.  What fantastic growers!  I've got tamarack in the woods, and they're great trees too.  But these hybrid jobbies...........wow.  Exceptional aesthetic attributes too.  The Japanese larch parentage yields slightly larger, longer needles, the fall coloration actually goes through orange, purplish, and golden phases, and the twigs are bright yellow all through winter, not unlike a good weeping willow effect.  Awesome trees.  The tallest of these larch-started as little bitty plugs smaller than a pencil-are now 25 ft. tall.
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#23)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Lucas » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:39 pm

"These Norway Spruce will be thinned out.  I noticed that many of the spruce trees in Eaton Rapids are in decline, most likely due to Phomopsis.  Engelmann and Blue Spruce are most vulnerable but it is hammering the Norway Spruce as well.  There is little the owner can do except to try and keep the tree(s) in a robust state of good health and to maximize airflow.  Reducing crowding accomplishes both."

http://eatonrapidsjoe.blogspot.ca/search?q=spruce

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/michigan_awash_with_phomopsis_cankers_on_spruce_trees_and_seedlings

MI is seeing Phomopsis issues, as well.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir
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#24)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby wisconsitom » Mon Mar 07, 2016 11:18 am

Yeah, that Phomopsis is a bummer.  Within my lifetime, species of conifers that were perfectly fine landscape and even forestry plants here in WI are now almost completely useless.  So far, the Norway spruce has proven itself to be more resistant, but not completely so by any means.  So too with white spruce, it's origins in more humid, eastern N. American locales, (as well as all across Canada and Alaska) has tended to give it greater resistance to those fungal pathogens which do their business in damp places, but no species is 100% resistant, it seems.
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#25)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby gnmcmartin » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:35 am

We may not get the Phomopsis here in the northern Shenandoah Valley, where we have a lot of wind and a bit less humidity than other areas in the east. Our blue spruce are disease free here.  But I would guess that this will be a problem at my timberland in the MD mountains, where it is humid and wet.

  Tom:  on my best soil here my hybrid larch has grown  in two or three cases 5 feet, and maybe a bit more in one year.  One tree is over 20 feet tall 4 years after planting as a 2 foot seedling. I have about 20 Japanese larch planted, and they are also growing very fast. I have just two European, and they are not so fast, but I have them planted in less favorable soil.

  I enjoyed "fixing" my trees that developed double leaders. If you enjoy such things, here is what I did for those high up.  I climbed up, carrying a small pruning saw with me to cut through branches that would block my way, and also carrying a more "robust" saw to make the cut to eliminate the extra leader. In some cases I climbed up about 40 feet or so, and it was a lot of fun. Looking out over the tops of the trees was a wonderfully unique view, and when the wind blew, it was like a carnival ride, swaying back and forth. I also carried some straps that I used to tie myself in when I got to where I would make the cut.  I often needed both hands for that, so the straps were needed not only only for safety, but also to do the work properly.

  In a fully stocked stand of pines and spruces, I could just thin out the forked trees, but because in places my plantations were a bit understocked, I needed all the good trees I could preserve.  I must have climbed and saved about 60 or more trees this way. But I didn't get them all, and some developed forks more recently.  Forked white pines and Norway spruces split regularly, but I never had a forked red pine split, so I leaned to ignore those. I have not seen a problem with the larch developing double leaders.

  One time when I was in a tree top, a big vulture swooped low, just about 6 feet over my head.  That was something to see--and hear. I don't do this climbing any more, partly because I am not so strong now, and partly because my trees are about 100 feet tall now with the lowest branch about 25 or 35 feet up.

  Growing trees is much fun!

  --Gaines
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#26)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:56 am

Gaines,
Fixing the weeviled trees? That's very cool and you get major points from the forestry gods for "doing the right thing".
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#27)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby dbhguru » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:38 pm

Gaines,

   Very inspiring! I greatly enjoy reading yours, Joe's and Tom's descriptions of how the three of you bring care and responsibility into the managing of woodlands, yours and/or those of others. Everybody needs to read these posts so that they do not confuse real forest management with what is passed off by that part of the timber profession always focused on the quick dollar. Please keep your posts coming.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#28)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby wisconsitom » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:40 pm

I'll second that!  This guy-Gaines-is likely the most dedicated forester-I'm using that term in the best possible sense-I've ever known or even heard about!  I've got some of the same issues Gaines has related, especially with regard to double-topped white pines.  Yet even though I'm his junior by some years, I've not done half the repair work he has.  Hat's off, Gaines!

One of my techniques to get lots of good, well-formed trees has been to plant lots of them!  So, say I go up to the land and see a nice spruce all screwed up by buck rubbing.  I don't worry about it.  Right behind that one is another twenty or forty more just like it.  That's been my system.  But as far as pole saw and pole pruner work from the ground, we're all about that.  And fun it is.

Just two weekends back, me and my younger son were doing some repair on weeviled Norway spruce.  These were mostly the earlier-planted ones, from 2008, 2009, right in there.  Well, since many of these have put on impressive growth, we found ourselves in a little pocket of "thermal cover".  That is, it was a cold day, maybe twenty-some degrees F. yet we found that within the developing groves of these conifers were some very comfortable pockets.  This is no different than the naturally-occurring thermal cover that the thick groves of Thuja provide around here.  Exactly the same deal, albeit one is natural and the other is manmade.  Wonderful to witness this occurring because of our own efforts.

One thing that happened on the weekend that we finished up our major planting by installing 6000 seedlings was that I spent most of those two days doing followup straightening, etc. and somehow failed-until we were well into it-to notice that we were getting a little too close together with the machine planting.  DNR guys came on scene and said much the same, but nobody was too terribly worried about it.  The thinking is, these trees will still grow just fine, and perhaps, we'll have a bit more incentive to do a thinning cut at some point.  That's ok. BTW, that was 2 years ago, and many of those trees are over my head in height already.  We're talking red pine, white pine, Norway spruce and the larch.  These plants were utterly overtaken by annual weeds-almost 100% lesser ragweed-which because it was a wet year was actually very tall ragweed!  This was the first year following planting.  Because our rows were not dead straight, and because the weeds were so prolific, we couldn't even see the seedlings, so trying to go down through the rows with a sprayer and herbicide was out of the question.  Through nothing more than expediency, my decision was to do nothing.  Man, I got to tell you guys, that has worked out well!  By the second growing season, all of that annual junk had gone away and the entire field was now taken over by perennial forbs-things like giant goldenrod, asters, etc.  OK, so these are still competitors to the trees, but once again, there was simply no reasonable way to do any control, so once again, the decision was to do nothing.  And once again, I think we hit the jackpot.  Those trees are in many cases now already above the "weed layer" and are set to win the race.  True, the NS is slower to get going, but we see lots of those biding their time too.  I think even the spruce will triumph.

Sandy, loamy silty soil is what we've got there.  I'm not sure what class it would rate as a forest soil.  One interesting tidbit about Oconto County, where this is located, is that the southern half of this large county was settled for agriculture long ago.  Therefore, when we afforest a field like we are doing, it probably has not been woods for more than 100 years.  Adds to my enjoyment, as all around us, greedy farmers are clearing land for more corn and soybeans.  I know of one guy not too far from  us that cleared over 400 acres of mostly sandy ground that had been all oaks.  I think he's a fool-that sandy ground is simply not going to produce the alfalfa he claims he is going to be growing on it.  That's a big damn clearing, and it breaks my heart. We're doing our little bit though.

edited to add:  Thanks Bob!
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#29)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby Joe » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:29 pm

"Sandy, loamy silty soil is what we've got there."

Perfect for the tree species you're trying to grow!
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#30)  Re: Potential tall trees?

Postby gnmcmartin » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:32 pm

Tom and NTS folks:

  Jim Kokenderfer, at the Parsons branch of the NE Forest Experiment Station, did a study, maybe about 20 years ago, showing that Norway spruce that had been overtopped by brush, could be released by an early fall application of glyphosate (roundup). Of course this won't work with annual weeds that can choke newly planted spruce.  But, if anyone has a planting that has become overtopped by woody shrubs/saplings, there is this solution. What this research forester found is that the spruce develop a resistance to Glyphosate when the new growth has hardened somewhat, and it does this while the broadleaved woody plants are still vulnerable. I would guess that a search of Jim Kokenderfer, US forest Service, will turn up a link to this study, including the application amounts.

  Another important thing to remember when "managing" pine and spruce plantations is this:  I mentioned Professor Edwin White, former Dean of Research at the college of Environmental Science and Forestry at SUNY Syracuse, several times in posts for NTS, emphasizing how helpful he has been to me.  One time when I was considering getting into a  "forest stewardship" program to replace the "forest management agreement" program I was in, I was questioning  the added flexibility I could have under this program. My project forester's said that I should thin my pines and spruces down to 100 square feet of basal area.  For the uninitiated, the measure of basal area is a simple guideline that is used to determine the "density" of a forest, or how crowded the trees have become, and foresters often have guidelines for thinning a stand based on this measure.

  Well, here is what Professor White told me.  I had been keeping my pine and spruce plantations at a density of about 180 feet (I have my own prism, and doing the measurement is very easy), and that put me in conflict with the guidelines used by the MD forest service for certifying TSI thinnings, which was 100 feet. He said that for good growth of white pine and spruce, densities well over 200 feet were appropriate.  And then he said, that if a "stewardship" program was designed to encourage long term preservation and growth of forests, that one could meet that criteria simply by refraining from destroying the forest.  This last sentence is my summary of what he said in my own words.  In essence, he said that after a plantation of spruce and pine have 'taken over" a site, that if the goal is to have a beautiful, magnificent mature forest in 100 to 150 years or so, one would not need to do anything at all. No thinning, no pruning, etc.  That over that long a span of time, the individual trees would sort themselves out, with some asserting dominance, and nature would cause the overtopped trees to die, etc., leaving a mature, or old growth forest that would be very much like one that had been carefully managed.

  Of course, that is not to say that some removal of defective trees that gain dominance won't add some fine trees to the final stand.  And, of course a carefully managed forest will look much, much nicer in the meantime.

  But, if any of you want to create something for "posterity," you need only take care of the seedlings after planting so they are not smothered by weeds, which will happen on the richer, "heavier" soils, and make sure they become dominant over whatever else manages to come up among them. "Nature" will then take over, and over the long term, a beautiful old growth stand will develop without any help from us.

  But, and this is important--on some sites, some species of pine and spruce can stagnate, meaning that individual trees will not assert dominance, and the trees will become more and more crowded, and weaken, grow very slowly, and be susceptible to disease and insect attack.  I have seen the stagnation of red pine plantations in Garrett County MD. But white pine and Norway spruce will always reliably assert dominance, and, ultimately,  over the very long term, don't need to be thinned "artificially."

  Now one of my excuses for the climbing I did to cut out the double leaders, even if thinking about the long, long term, is that in some places my plantations were understocked, so I needed to preserve all the trees I could.  But, of course, the most important reason is my love of the trees, and just pure fun!

  --Gaines
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