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Getting work done in the woods: hiring a chemical applicator

TreeTopics - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 3:43pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Many landowners depend on professional operators to help get things done on their property.  This includes weed control. Finding the right person for the job is important. The process starts with knowing what you are looking for.

Good weed control is a boon to seedling survival

Like most forestry management practices, weed control is actually a mix of different activities. Depending on what you know and can do yourself, hiring a chemical applicator means you are actually looking to hire a mix of knowledge and skill, equipment and labor.

It is important to get this right. Otherwise you may waste money or injure your trees.  Worse still, it could mean causing damage to the environment or a neighbors’ crops, either of which would create a liability issue for you.

So how do you go about selecting the right chemical applicator for you? In conversations with some forestry professionals and landowners recently, it all boiled down to communicating about needs and expectations.  Here are some key questions and things to discuss before hiring a chemical applicator to work on your property.

Questions to ask potential providers:

What are your qualifications?

Before you hire anyone to apply chemicals, you want to know that they are qualified to do the job well, legally, safely and will not

create a liability for you. Here are some specific things to talk about:

  • Ask to see their commercial and/or consulting applicators license and proof of business insurance. Are they current?
  • Ask about their forestry application experience. Who have they worked for? What types of application have they done?
  • Ask about their familiarity with ODF forest practice rules for spraying buffers, weather restrictions, record keeping, and using restricted herbicides such as atrazine.
  • Are they up to speed on training their workers about the new worker protection standards?
  • Are they qualified to develop spray prescriptions? 

What services do you provide?

 It is important that you be clear about the services you are looking for so you can determine if the operator has the knowledge,

Herbicides applied to cut surfaces (here with marker dye) is an effective way to control many shrubs and stump sprouts.

equipment and staff needed for your job.

Specific herbicides are used in many different situations such as site preparation (before) or release (after planting) to control both leafy and woody plants. It can be done in different ways including broadcast spray, spot or directed spray, “hack and squirt” or stump treatment and using different tools such as backpack, vehicle mounted sprayers or squirt bottle.  The right combination and approach

(generally referred to as the “prescription”) depends on the season, type of weed and crop tree species.

  • Clarify what parts of the job you are doing yourself and what you are hiring for – developing the prescription, doing the application, or maybe both. Does that match their qualifications?
  • What types of application can they do and what equipment do they use?
  • Who will provide the chemicals for the job?
  • Who will submit the “Notice of Operation” to the Oregon Department of Forestry for the application? You or them?

How will work be done?

  • Ask about their workforce (number and size of crews). What experience and certification does the foreman overseeing your job have?
  • Will they be able to get your job done in the timeframe that it needs to be sprayed?
  • What photos or maps do they need from you to make sure they and their crew understand exactly where to spray?
  • Will the operator provide you with official chemical application records in a timely manner? These include specific chemicals, location and rates at which they were applied, information on weather conditions during application, etc.

 

How will I be charged for your services?

There are a variety of ways to work this out. It is important that you communicate expectations and reach a clear agreement up front.

Herbicide damage to seedlings and other non-targets should be avoided.

Shop around for bids and check references.

  • Ask how they charge. Itemized by time, travel and materials, or by the acre?
  • Ask about billing and when is payment due.
  • Do they guarantee their work? Will they come back and fix something if it isn’t done right? How will you determine satisfactory service?
  • Get an estimate for the job.

 Where to look for a chemical applicator

The list of qualified chemical applicators in an area is constantly changing. Here are some ways to find potential operators.

  • Your local landowner association!
    • Ask other landowners who they use and any issues they have had to deal with.
  • Ask a neighboring industrial forester if they could share contacts for applicators they use
  • State Department of Forestry and Extension offices
    • Although they cannot make specific recommendations, both may be able to provide a list of applicators in your area.

There you have it, my short list of questions to think about before calling potential spray operators and some things to discuss when talking to them. I hope it is helpful.  Did I miss something important that you have learned?  Let me know.

My thanks to Jeff Classen (ODF), Shaney Emerson (Helena Chemical), Rita Adams (Benton County landowner) and the others who shared their ideas on this.

The post Getting work done in the woods: hiring a chemical applicator appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: TreeTopics

5 ways to abuse your tree seedlings (and how to avoid them)

TreeTopics - Fri, 01/06/2017 - 2:24pm

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Tree planting season is upon us. Once the deep freeze departs western Oregon woodland owners will be heading out, shovels and seedlings in hand, to plant the next generation of forests.  The saying “green side up” implies that tree planting isn’t rocket science; but inevitably, come late summer some people will return their planting sites to find that their trees didn’t fare so well.  Weather and other uncontrollable factors cause seedling mortality some years more than others.  But, it’s also easy to unintentionally harm your trees before they even get in the ground. So before you go to a seedling sale this year to pick up a few trees, here are some common cases of seedling abuse and how to avoid perpetrating them.

A balmy sunny day might entice you outdoors, but it’s not ideal weather for tree planting.

#1: Heating them up. Transporting trees in the heated cab of your vehicle, leaving the seedling bags in a place that receives direct sunlight, or too close to a heat source are all ways seedlings can quickly heat up and become stressed. Consider bringing along a large cooler, some bags of ice, or some other type of insulating material to the sale. Once home, store the seedlings outside in deep shade or along a north wall or unheated overhang, but also not exposed to sub-freezing temperatures.

#2: Drying them out. Exposing the roots to drying air is another no-no.  This can happen if you leave the planting bag open, or if you take seedlings out of their bag and carry them around the planting site without their roots protected.  Misting the roots with a spray bottle or dipping them in water when transferring them from one container to another is a good practice.  Cover the roots with something moist in whatever container you are using to carry seedlings from one planting spot to the next.

#3: Drowning them. On the other hand, don’t leave the seedlings in a bucket of water. They’re not cut flowers!

#4: Waiting too long. Trees undergo a pulse of root growth in the winter before budbreak and shoot growth begins in the spring. If you plant too late in the season, you will have missed that root growth window and your newly planted seedling will grow lots of new foliage without enough root mass to support its water needs. Plant as soon as possible after your site is prepared and in good condition for planting.

At the end of the first summer post-planting, without any vegetation management

#5: Neglect. If you’re relying on non-chemical weed control, you’ll want to revisit your site for the first maintenance sooner than you think, or you may not be able to find your seedlings! Time your herbicide treatments carefully during the first year  to optimize weed response and minimize damage to seedlings. Consult the Forestry chapter of the PNW Weed Management Handbook for guidance.

Now, I’m expecting someone to respond to this article telling me about the time they got behind schedule and planted the only seedlings they could get their hands on in the middle of May after they had sat neglected behind the barn for three weeks, and then they didn’t get around to spraying that year and lo and behold, they all survived and are doing great!  (It’s like those of us that were kids before the 1980’s, without being strapped into car seats or bike helmets!)  I’ve heard stories like this before. And with some luck, this could happen to you. But why take chances? Treat the next generation of your forest as you would the next generation of your family, and at least you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ve done everything you could to get them off to a good start in life.

For more tips on successful tree planting, refer to The Care and Planting of Tree Seedlings on Your Woodland or the even more thorough Guide to Reforestation in Oregon.

The post 5 ways to abuse your tree seedlings (and how to avoid them) appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: TreeTopics

Something to ponder while you enjoy that fire this winter

TreeTopics - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 12:00pm

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

 

I was given Norwegian Wood this summer. No, not the Beatles’ famous 1965 single about a John Lennon romance.  The gift is a book about the Scandinavian romance with firewood.  Its full title is “Norwegian Wood: chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way” (by Lars Mytting).  I loved it.  I would probably hesitate to admit that to most people, but Tree Topics and Compass readers are not most people.  You are wood people and will understand. 

Norwegian Wood is an embrace of all things firewood. It delves into the historic Scandinavian reliance on wood to heat hearth and home when having enough wood on hand (at far northern latitudes) was a matter of life and death.  That dependence seems to still shape the collective Scandinavian psyche.  People there respect wood.

Mytting opens the book with a story of where his own journey of discovery about wood began, a story of an elderly neighbor for whom the annual ritual of putting in the wood was a tonic, giving him renewed purpose and energy.  He goes on to describe the process of making firewood, the various kind of trees, the preferred tools (and some evolutionary history of chainsaws and axes), the advantages of different cutting, hauling, covering, stacking, stove design and fire building practices.

But especially stacking. The book abounds in handsome photos of woodpiles, with descriptions of the different methods of stacking.  It also has analysis (including citation of studies by the Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology) of various approaches.  The book includes stories of rural Norwegians, at least a couple octogenarians for whom making firewood remains a significant task, whatever the Doctor says.  A person may get too old for many things, but not too old for stacking firewood it seems.

There is no question that for many Norwegians and Swedes, firewood is not just necessity. It is a matter of pride and even art.  It is almost scary.  Many people there, perhaps even the culture as a whole seems to be suffering from a particular form of the Wood Sickness.

So I recommend the book to anyone who uses wood, but does so with some degree of attachment beyond the mere utility of it. This book is for us.  The topic is familiar, but the cultural context, tradition and ecological context (Scandinavia v Oregon) all make it fresh and entertaining reading that will give you new insight to something familiar.

 

The post Something to ponder while you enjoy that fire this winter appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: TreeTopics

Shrubs for wildlife – Vine maple

TreeTopics - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 2:53pm

By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties

Happy fall!

For the fourth installment in our series on native shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife, I’ve chosen one that appropriate to the season, provides some nice fall color to our forests.  Now I’ve met more than a few woodland owners who are not fans of vine maple; it’s not a favorite of those who prefer a tidy or parklike forest. Working or wandering in mature forests you’ve probably tripped over it or crawled under it and possibly cursed it under your breath.  Nevertheless, vine maple is another of those “brush” species that benefits wildlife in numerous ways. With some tolerance for its rambling ways you can find a place for this species to provide that service on your woodland in concert with your other land management goals.  If you are interested in enhancing wildlife habitat on your property, read on for our species profile.

Species name: Vine maple (Acer circinatum)

Two photos taken on the same day and site in late September. Top, on the edge of a patch cut, with colorful foliage and abundant seeds. Bottom, in adjacent mature stand with green foliage and few seeds.

Description: A large, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree. Like all maples, leaves are lobed like a fan or the palm of your hand (“palmate”) and in opposite arrangement on the branch; seeds are in winged pairs (“samaras”).  The bark is smooth and greenish.  Vine maple grows on moist sites in sun or shade, in regenerating to mature forests.  In sun, its habit is denser and erect; seed production is more abundant, and leaves turn orange to red in fall.  In a shady understory, it lives up to its name, with long spindly stems that arch to the ground and re-root upon contact.  Fall foliage is less brilliant in the shade, and fewer seeds are produced.

Wildlife value: Vine maple is considered a preferred and nutritious summer forage for deer and elk. Elk continue to browse the twigs and buds in winter. Squirrels will cache the seeds for winter feeding. In open regenerating (i.e. early seral) areas, songbirds rely on deciduous shrubs such as vine maple for nesting cover and will forage for insects that feed on the foliage.

Management considerations:  Vine maple is considered a “good shrub to leave behind”, or carry over from one timber rotation to the next to support early seral associated songbirds.  Doing so, acknowledge that you’ll have to grant it a little real estate as it won’t play too well with little neighboring conifer seedlings.  You don’t need a lot to make a difference. Leaving vine maple along the edges of patch cuts or in clumps with other retained shrubs reduces interference with planted trees. In mature stands, vine maple will fill in the understory after thinning or disturbances allow light to filter through the canopy, providing a food resource and cover for deer and elk.

References:

Jensen, E. 2013. Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests

Uchytil, R. 1989.  Acer circinatum.

Oregon Forest Resources Institute. 2015. Wildlife in Managed Forests: Early Seral-Associated Songbirds

Woodland Fish & Wildlife. 2014. Managing for Deer and Elk on Small Woodlands.

 

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