Forestneeds

March 2, 2006

Monterey Cypress Potential

Filed under: Cypresses,Timber Growing — shem kerr @ 7:48 pm

Given optimal conditions, Cupressus macrocarpa can grow 1m to 2m tall in its first season from germination. In subsequent early years it can grow another 2m to 3m in height each year until about age ten. It can also be averaging a yearly gain of 3cm to 5cm in stem diametre growth at breast height. Pruning to produce a clear pruned butt log will temporarily slow diametre growth due to reduced area of green crown. Pruning, properly done, shouldn’t slow height growth if other conditions stay optimal. Trees with 6m clear pruned butt logs with a small end diametres of 40 cm can be grown in 12 to 16 years; or 80 cm sed butts in 20 to 30 years. Add another 2 to 4 years to make sure that the heartwood potential of the stand is realised. Stand basal areas of 120 square metres to 220 m2 are achievable. Clear pruned log prices are presently around NZ$300 to NZ$ 400 per cubic metre; and clear milled and seasoned timber around NZ$1200 to NZ$3000/m3. Why are growers not achieving the potential of this species?

Well, some growers aren’t even trying for it. They aren’t paying attention to how the tree works ( its physiology),and they aren’t willing to work together with the forest. Any shortcomings are blamed on the tree; its genetics,; or its ability to cope with the working conditions the grower has provided. This all stems from an attitude that timber simply grows on trees, but at a lower profit than any other land use.

Root pruning to harden off the plants for transplanting is a standard, “necessary “ or “economic” nursery procedure. Sometimes multiple root prunings are carried out. This is the case in root trainers and slit side cells; it can also happen to open grown nursery stock. The more often roots are set back the harder it is for them to regenerate. In some cases top growth may continue out of balance before roots have caught up. This can lead to instability and/or trees falling down.

There are relationships between apical growth and wind; competition; or nutrition. A tree that is given difficult conditions in which to maximize apical growth is likely to put relatively more resources into branch growth. This makes the grower’s job harder; with larger diametre branches to cut off and large branch stub defects in the finished timber. Also, the nutrients held in the branches then become temporarily unavailable to the tree until the branches rot down and release them. The most severe pruning is done when the tree is just entering its fastest growth phase. Lack of sufficient and balanced nutrition ( ie, malnutrition) stunts growth, is sickening, or fatal.

The solutions are:

*Start with a good seed source from your district that has been proven to do well there. Better yet if the stand contains 2 or more of such family seedlines that aren’t closely related.

*Grow your own seedlings if at all possible.

*Grow them in the ground ( rather than in containers )

*Apply fertilizer to balance soil nutrients

*Optimize soil conditions

*Control weeds well, preferably mechanically rather than chemically

* Thin to grow short fat transplants ( rather than tall skinny ones)

*Root prune once only, close to lifting time ( say, 1 to 2 weeks prior)

*Lift in overcast weather that promises rain after planting.

*Keep as much of the soil as possible with the rootball when transplanting

*Outplant immediately or at least within the same day as lifting the transplants

*Plant out on a sheltered well drained moist site in a climate that is likely to encourage optimal growth

*Plant amongst pre-existing governess trees

*Control weeds including the governess component

*Monitor and control pests including farm animals

*Monitor foliar element concentrations, and adjust nutrients and soil pH as needed.

*Prune on time. Prune little and often.

[For more detailed information see the cypress page of the farm forestry special needs list.]

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