July 29, 2007

Northland Totara Working Group Field Day

Filed under: Forestneeds_Notices,Forestry Research,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 6:00 am

Remnants of totara gate and fence

Held at A. Crawford property. Cook Rd. Okaihau on Saturday, 31 March 2007

The 2nd of a 3 part seminar on issues with managing totara. The 1st part being heads talking to powerpoint presentations; an hour or 2 of bums on seats,  4 different days, 4 locations: could’ve been 10 minutes tacked onto the front end of the 3rd part and saved a lot of time and money.

The field day was the most useful of the three.

The field day attendees included bureaucrats, lifestylers, contractors, and pastural farmers. At times the researchers findings or views weren’t just questioned, but downright rejected. Points of contention included: desirable pruning heights; the timing of pruning or production thinning; the role of borer in downgrade; and nutrient application.

From early times of human occupation of New Zealand, totara wood has been utilised because of it’s ease of workability, high durability, stability, fine finish,relatively light weight, along with straight knot-free stems. Those features that gave it desirability, plus a government low price policy, led to overcutting, leaving only remnants of old growth (durable) totara and collapse of the market. Insufficient effort was put into researching and managing the growing of totara (or other indigenous timber species) in sustainable forestry regimes or in plantations to enable continuity of supply. Instead, Pinus radiata, was selected for fast grown non-durable sapwood production in clear felled regimes treated as a mediocre commodity wood or fibre source.

Regenerating totara forest View under young totara regeneration

Since the removal of government subsidies on agricultural production, large areas of marginal farmland in Northland have reverted to scrub and then through to young forest. Fortunately for totara it is a pioneer species that is quite tolerant as to site, and can better thwart browsing than can most New Zealand native trees. A large proportion of this reversion has been to totara dominated forest, creating the potential for a significant new timber resource.

Pruned and thinned tight stand of totara Branchy habit of totara Tightly grown totara of similar age Northland Totara Working Group field day discussion Old growth totara stand

The Working Group was established “to support and promote research and technology transfer in the productive management of totara”. this could cynically be translated into: “as researchers, we should be milking this for as much funding as we can get away with; this is another opportunity to reinvent the wheel.”

At times the day got bogged down in discussion of what amounted to uneconomic harvesting activity. The group doesnt seem to have a grasp on the matter. Who is harvesting this knotty sap farm-crop totara? It appears that at present it is for the most part craftspeople unofficially ‘salvaging’ open grown paddock logs felled to be burned. Research indicates that on fertile sites, totara can put on annual trunk diametre growth incruement of around 10 mm; and that in trees less than 100 years old there is very little durable heartwood. There is no way that this could be and economically viable crop given competing product prices. However, Randal Austen found that a single application of superphosphate fertilizer (untargeted as to matching nutrient needs) gave faster growth rates, twice that, and continuing over at least a seven year period. With fine tuning of nutrient additions, growth rates might match similarly durable exotic timber species. The second part we might work on is shortening the time to produce significant amounts of durable heartwood. Together these two may still not add up economically.

Other factors such as soil and water conservation forestry may help make active management of totara economically sensible. Against this, totara tends to have a fairly shallow root system and might be of minimal value here.

The group has $nz265,000 in funding to demonstrate thinning and quantify the resource; to evaluate the wood quality; and to compare growth rates, stand productivity and wood quality of extracted thinnings of naturally-regenerating stands with plantation totara However.these activities of themselves wont encourage land owners to undertake ‘management (that) is required to maximise the production from these stands’. What is missing is how the land stacks up; as well as infrastructure concerns.


November 20, 2006

Field Day Reclamation: Paengaroa: Welcome Bay; Waitara



Just got in. Logbook says 855.3 km. I’ll put up the thumbnails temporarily placed first, then get back to the field day issues.

Ok, had to have a bath; eat; then had to sleep; then needed to work. Now i can get back to down-sizing the photos and uploading them. Just noticed that there’s a new way of handling photos on my dashboard – I have to get my head around that. If you click on the thumbnail then it should come up bigger along with a caption. You can click on the bigger picture to see it even bigger.

Family farm forestry
Farm forestry Reid Road Welcome Bay Flying-fox over pond Welcome Bay


June 5, 2006

Cool climate hardwoods

Filed under: Hardwoods,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 3:44 am

What choice is there in high quality hardwoods for growing in cool climates?BranchStubZelkova
There is much more choice available from tropical or sub-tropical forests. Some growing a whole lot faster than cool climate trees. The most durable tropical hardwoods typically have much higher durability than cool climate hardwoods when used in identical conditions. Then why try to compete? Is there even any posibility that the economics stack up against cool climate softwoods? (more…)

June 4, 2006

Redwood Risks

Filed under: Cypresses,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 5:07 am

As Sequoia sempervirens, Thuja plicata and similar durable stable lightweight timber markets experience rising demand with tightened availability, small and medium forest growers are showing renewed interest. There is a tendency for promotors and enthusiasts to gloss over, downplay, ignore or dismiss the risks.FellingSequoia On optimal sites each single risk may be minimal; but several such risks put together may add up to a loss of several percent of the potential crop, or potential profit. On a less than optimal site trying to grow Sequoia may be a liability. Of 10,000 acres of Sequoia planted in New Zealand around 1% established. This post touches on the problems that I’ve personally come across, and my own photos illustrate the points. (more…)

March 7, 2006

Plantation macrocarpa just rubbish

Filed under: Cypresses,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 12:36 am

When Cupressus macrocarpa was first introduced into New Zealand it was used extensively in farm shelterbelts. Despite the lack of silvaculture, these belts produces good amounts of clear timber, even from the top logs. As high quality indigenous

Elderly macrocarpa plantation, Tahora

timber resources progressively became depleted or locked up in nature reserves, more interest was given to growing plantations of fast growing exotics, such as macrocarpa, to replace indigenous species in the timber market. While untended shelterbelts could readily produce a relatively high percentage of clear timber, purpose planted plantations present a their own set of problems.


March 3, 2006

Cypresses at Mimi

Filed under: Cypresses,Timber Growing,Trees — shem kerr @ 9:33 pm

In 1927 a school horticultural teaching assistant left a lasting legacy at Mimi school in coastal North Taranaki, New Zealand.Ten year old Mimi cypresses; heads For over 60 years school children watched a stand of Monterey cypress grow next to the school yard. When in 1994 the School board had the trees felled to cash in the value of the logs, Jim Phillips collected seed from what he considered to be the best tree in the stand. He sowed the seed and planted the seedlings on a roadside slip on his farm. Ten years after planting the trees are up to 20m high
and 33cm dbh.Ten year old Mimi cypress trunk 33cm dbh

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