TreeTopics

Tree seedling supply remains uncertain

TreeTopics - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 10:42am

Jen Gorski, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Clackamas County

Oregon forest landowners and Christmas tree growers are having difficulty locating seedlings to buy.

In response, the Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU Extension and other partners are working hard to identify and solve the problems limiting the supply. It’s not an easy fix; many pieces account for the problems and the solutions.

OSU Clackamas County Extension hosted a meeting in January to discuss the seedling supply. Landowners revealed that certain species or stock types are not always available within a year of planting. This presents some uncertain choices and potential compromise. One year plugs may be available in lieu of 1-1 transplants (2 year old seedlings). The 1-1 transplants have a fibrous root system and a track record of success in challenging conditions. However, future survival of one year plugs is uncertain.

This is not an entirely new problem. There has been a perennial issue for those who wish to order fewer than 20,000 seedlings, the minimum contract order for many nurseries. Consequently, the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association (CCFFA) and some other OSWA chapters provide the opportunity for their members to batch small orders together and order collectively.

There are many reasons for the current seedling supply situation. These include capacity loss during the recession, shifting management practices and demand following fire.

Part of the challenge is this: producing bareroot seedlings (still the industry mainstay) takes over two years of lead time. Nurseries have to supply all the costly resources at the front end: picking the cones or fruit, cleaning the seed, pre-treating then sowing the seed, and growing/transplanting the seedlings. Timber companies are ordering 2+ years ahead. Small forest landowners and Christmas tree growers may need to get used to the idea of ordering that far ahead as well.

 

Strategies and Resources

Communicate with the ODF and partners working on this issue! Making your concern and any challenges you’ve had finding seedlings known will help focus our joint effort.

In the meantime, here are some resources to work with when looking for seedlings.

The ODF November 2016 publication, Sources of Native Forest Nursery Seedlings,  provides an up-to-date list of regional nurseries who sell seed and seedlings.

Alternatively, Bob McNitt’s Forest Seedling Network,  is a website in which nurseries can list their available stock online that a user can search to find what they need. It showcases a very useful seed zone map in which you locate your planting site, and get your seed zone number with a list of seedling suppliers and their contact info.

A new website has just come online for ordering tree seedlings. It has been developed by Mike Taylor, also the manager of IFA

A bench of Douglas-fir plugs

Nurseries in Canby. Because of the high need for small quantities of seedlings, this website has been created to bundle small orders together to obtain quantities greater than 20,000. Mike is behind-the-curtain, serving a great market need with his expertise. Visit Saplings, Inc.,. One can order now for winter of 2018-2019, and down the road, the system may help connect people to future seedling supplies.

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Categories: TreeTopics

Getting work done in the woods: hiring a chemical applicator

TreeTopics - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 4:43pm

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.

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Categories: TreeTopics

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

TreeTopics - Fri, 01/06/2017 - 3:24pm

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.

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Categories: TreeTopics

Something to ponder while you enjoy that fire this winter

TreeTopics - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 1:00pm

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.

 

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