Winter tends to be a little quieter on the farm. It’s a great time to get chores done in your forest. So here are some suggestions to work off any Christmas excess.
To go for a walk
Access makes management possible. No access, no management. It’s that simple. So take a walk through your forest. You will find out what to do. The earlier a problem is identified, the easier it is to solve it.
And if you’re not sure, ask your local forest consultant.
Align your paths once a year to keep your approach from becoming overgrown with scrub and howling.
Replace dead trees
Future tree selection and quality timber production depend on having many trees to choose from. Make sure your tree density is as close to 100 as possible.
You can estimate this using pie charts. Set a stake in the ground and tie an eight-foot ribbon or twine to the stake. Tighten the tape and go around in a circle counting all the living trees in it.
Multiply the result by 50 to get the stocking density per hectare.
For example, you should count 66 live oak trees inside the circle, while Sitka spruce should have 50.
Check for nutrient deficiencies
Healthy trees will grow vigorously, so make sure they have access to satisfactory levels of nutrients. The level and requirements vary depending on the type of soil and tree species.
Keep in mind that other factors such as poor drainage or poor vegetation control can also lead to deficiency-like symptoms. So identify the problem before trying to fix it
then monitor the response of the trees and reassess fertilizer needs.
If symptoms appear, a foliar analysis is recommended to determine the nature and extent of a potential nutrient problem. Evergreen conifers should ideally be sampled in December.
See www.teagasc.ie/forestry for information on how to take leaf samples and where to send them for analysis.
Good drainage is important. A high water table leads to difficulties in nutrient uptake, while limited tree root space affects (future) tree stability.
So keep an eye on the drainage system.
Check fences and gates
Keep grazing animals (sheep, deer, etc.) out of your forest. They damage or kill trees by stripping bark, eating shoots, or stepping on tree roots.
Trees eaten by animals lose their commercial value very quickly.
Animals can also cause drains to collapse, causing waterlogging and increasing the risk of windthrow.
Carry out creative design
Shaping deciduous trees is important as it produces longer straight lengths of quality wood. By removing forks or very large competing side branches, you “extend” the lumber length.
This can be done in summer or winter, but not in spring or fall. This process should begin early, once the trees are growing vigorously. Don’t remove too much foliage – the tree needs its leaves to grow strong.
Mark potential crop trees
Winter is a good time to select the best trees (or potential crop trees) in your deciduous forest. Some of these trees will later produce the end and intermediate lumber.
PCTs should be of good straight stem form, have good vigor, be disease free and evenly distributed. Aim for 300 to 500 PCT per hectare.
Select your future PCTs before the first thinning is done. The other trees that you can consider “filling” are gradually being removed to make room for the PCTs.
Perform a high cut
Once the final “log length” has been achieved through regular shaping, it’s time for a high cut to avoid knots in the wood. Start by removing the lowest side branches and gradually remove branches up the tree as the tree develops.
Only PCTs are severely pruned. A strong incision is usually initiated after an initial thin operation.
Cut Inspection Paths
When a coniferous forest is around 10 years old, inspection trails are required. This allows access in and through the forest to assess thinning suitability (and timber quality).
It’s also a great opportunity to check if there are other issues that need fixing, perhaps a clogged drain.
There is a short, practical video for this www.teagasc.ie/forestry explain this process.
Check your insurance coverage
Brexit has contributed to a drastic increase in the cost of forest insurance, but it is still advisable to insure your forest.
Understand what you insure. Policies can cover:
■ Loss of value of the wood due to fire and/or wind damage;
■ costs of replanting;
■ fire brigade fees;
■ Public liability and employer liability.
Buy a real Irish Christmas tree
Real Christmas trees are so much more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral. They also help keep real jobs in rural Ireland.
Irish growers produce around 650,000 Christmas trees each year, of which 450,000 are sold domestically and around 200,000 are exported abroad, mainly to France, Germany and the UK. Industry contributes €25 million to the Irish economy.
You can’t have a real Christmas without a real Christmas tree!
Steven Meyen is Forestry Advisor at Teagasc in Ballybofey; email@example.com
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/forestry/jobs-to-do-in-your-forest-over-the-winter-42190597.html Working in your forest over the winter