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Growing quality broadleaf trees

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Growing quality broadleaf trees – farm walk in Claremorris

Teagasc, in co-operation with the Forest Service, will hold a farm walk in Claremorris on the evening of Wednesday, August 9 on the topic of growing quality broadleaf trees. The topics for discussion and demonstration will be formative shaping and thinning. Both are crucial management operations in young broadleaves and will determine the quality of timber to be produced in the longer term.
The objective of any forestry grower is to grow straight trees with clean boles as this produces better quality commercial timber. This is not in nature’s plan and so the trees need some encouragement with formative shaping. Summer is the ideal time to shape many broadleaf species.
Formative shaping is a management operation carried out in the early years of growth to ensure straight stems with a single, straight leading stem through the removal of competing stems. By carefully removing forks and heavy side branches over a period of five to seven years the trees can establish a single straight main stem and develop quality timber with fewer knots.
Intervention to remove forks should be carried out as early as possible in the tree’s life but the main emphasis on shaping is when the trees range 1m-3m in height. This normally equates to a two-to-four-year-old tree. It is generally recognised that Ash, Sycamore and Cherry respond best during this shaping period. Delaying the shaping of Oak and Beech until at least year five may be prudent based on the growth habits of these species. It is fair to say however that judicious shaping at an earlier stage will be worthwhile in the longer term.
The tools normally used for shaping are secateurs and loppers. If you need heavier equipment your trees may be too advanced to benefit from shaping.
Shaping should be carried out early, often and with moderation but it will not transform a bad tree into a good one!
As the trees grow to a height of six to seven metres the emphasis shifts from shaping to thinning. Thinning improves the quality of the final crop by the planned and phased removal initially of rough branched and malformed trees known as wolves, and the identification and favouring of potential final crop trees. Winter is the optimal time for tending and so the summer can be used for planning and preparing for the work ahead.
If you would like to know more about these important management tasks and shape some trees yourself this walk is not to be missed.
Remember - Meeting at 7.30pm sharp at the Statoil garage on the N17 (beside Hanley’s Riding Centre, Claremorris).