White pine shelterwood

White pine stands need continually care and assessment.  This stand had been managed in the past, but was abandoned for a few decades leaving the overstory too crowded and the understory bare.  The silvicultural prescription was a shelterwood establishment cut; removing all the suppressed, intermediate, over-mature, poorly formed, and declining trees.  The result the shown in the picture below.  The sandy soil on this site had caused white pine decline throughout the stand.  This manifests as a open wound or canker in the upper third of the trees crown.  It often looks like damage from previous logging or weather.  The exact cause is undetermined, but it is likely caused by moisture stress from intertwined root systems.  The stronger trees will wick moisture away from the weaker ones resulting in the decline. 

This stand will now be monitored annually to ensure canopy growth as well as regeneration development.  Traditionally a shelterwood overstory is removed once the regeneration becomes established, but in this case it can be maintained as long as it is healthy and growing.  The young cohort of pine in the understory may become suppressed as the overstory density increases, but enough dominant seed trees remain that a new cohort could become established.  The alternative option is to continually thin the overstory to provide the right amount of shade.  This shade plays a key part in protecting the young trees from white pine weevil.  More on the weevil later.  Get out and enjoy your woods!!

Hardwood Crop Tree Release & Overstory Density

A high quality red oak in need of release.

A high quality red oak in need of release.

Now that the fall foliage season is in the rear view it is time to get back in the wood to look at trees in a different light (be sure to put on your hunter orange).  As the leaves fall they reveal much more than can be seen during the summer months.  Many people see winter as a stagnant period, where we need to hunker down and wait for spring, but I like to get out and see what the leaves have been hiding.  The overstory of a maturing forest is a place of vigorous competition.  Trees battle for dominance in able to receive the most sunlight.  It is easy to see the winners in this competition when the leaves aren't on the trees.

Crop tree release diagram shown from above.  The green circle is the crop tree.

Crop tree release diagram shown from above.  The green circle is the crop tree.

Assessing crown competition can be difficult if you don't know what to look for or what you're looking at.  The first step is to find a tree with a nice straight stem and few lower limbs, preferably a red oak, or sugar maple.  This tree is likely a good candidate.  Once you've find a healthy tree take a look at where the crown begins and how wide it is.  Are the limbs touching another tree?  Does that other tree have a smaller or thinning crown?  Would it benefit the healthier tree to remove that tree?  Is the healthier tree above the other trees nearby?  Keep in mind that you don't need to remove all of the surrounding trees in order to accomplish your goal.  Removing just one or two may be all you need to do.  The diagram to the right shows the view from above would look if you were a bird flying over a hardwood release.  If you work with a forester, ask him or her to join you on your woodlot to mark firewood in an area where higher quality trees will benefit from the removal of poorly formed or damaged hardwoods. 

White pine seed

There has been a lot of talk about white pine this year.  The needle cast disease was more evident this June than in recent years.  The yellow of the crowns provoked many concerned landowners.  White pine blister rust is becoming more common on southern Maine woodlots.  Despite all this, there may be some good news for landowner's with white pine stands in their woodlot.  It appears that there will be a decent crop of white pine seed this year in parts of southern Maine.  The production of seed is spotty, but is potentially heavy in some areas.  If you are curious about your pines, grab a pair of binoculars and focus on the top of the mature pines on your land.  If you had been considering a harvest in a pine stand, this may be the year! Late summer and early fall is the best time to harvest pine.  The cones are mature and the weather is generally dry.  The skidding of the trees scarifies the ground and deposits pine seed all over.  It is important to contact your forester about a harvest.  If the needle cast disease affected your forest heavily, it may be best to wait and let the pines recover from the stress. 

More information on white pine management can be found on the Maine Forest Service website or at the link below:



Invasives in your woodlot

A flowering multiflora rose along a forest edge.

A flowering multiflora rose along a forest edge.

Each season gives us a new opportunity to assess our forests and see the changes.  The changing of the seasons also lets us know what is not native or doesn't belong in the Maine forest.  This time of year is great for spotting a certain invasive plant that might otherwise go unnoticed, multiflora rose.  It is late June and early July when multiflora rose flowers making it easy to spot in the landscape.  Multiflora rose is a perennial shrub with thorny arching stems and white flowers.  The clusters of flowers is where its name is derived from.  It is commonly found in abandoned fields developing in small clumps where a seed may have been deposited by a passing bird or a heavy rain.  These plants will creep into the forest along the edge and slowly develop along stream banks waiting for a free ride from rising waters.  It is not as aggressive in a forest setting like other invasive plants such as glossy buckthorn, Japanese barberry, shrubby honeysuckle, or Asiatic bittersweet.  The best way to protect your woodlot is to become familiar with these plants and be able to identify them while they are still young.  They are easily removed by hand while they are small.  Once they grow large a weed wrench or machinery can be used to remove the root system.  Herbicide is typically a last resort and is best left to professional licensed applicators.  If you have questions about invasive plants or would like to control them on your property, give us a call.  We will gladly come out to walk your lot with you free of charge. 

Here are two other recent articles putting the spotlight on terrestrial invasive plants.