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400 25yr spruce what good are they?

 
Peter Smith
Posts: 83
Location: NEPA
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I have 400 spruce trees planted 8' apart that the previous owners planted 25 or so years ago. Are they good for anything? I have talked to a mill, and they say they are not worth cutting down to them. I talked to a portable mill, and he said the wood is too sappy for his mill. Any ideas?
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Hu-Gel-Kult-Ur

 
Peter Smith
Posts: 83
Location: NEPA
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Yeah, like 5 miles of it. Some will do just that, but it seems a waste of some decent wood.
 
David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Take out every second one so you have them 16' apart and then leave them for another 25 years . Bigger trees worth more money plus you can do something with them then .
Use the little ones for fuel hugels thingys etc .
In 25 years time you take out half again etc etc

David
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1575
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Do you NEED to do anything with it in the short term? If you don't need the land for another purpose then how about just doing some strategic thinning and letting them grow on to maturity? If they were planted at 8' spacing you could probably thin 3 trees from every 4 now and give them all more light and room.

Letting light through to the forest floor may trigger natural regeneration from the dormant seed bank (depending on what seed bank is present).

As far as using the timber goes, you could consider planking some of it if it is of reasonable diameter - if it hasn't been thinned previously I suspect that the growth of many of them will have been stunted. You can buy attachments for a chainsaw if you only want small quantities of lumber, but it is time consuming to do.

Alternatively you could fell and process for firewood for your own use. Many people underestimate how much firewood they need and how long it should season for before burning. A good rule of thumb is you want to aim for 3 years between processing (felling, bucking, splitting and stacking) and eventually burning. It will burn hotter and cleaner. You don't really give an idea of the size of the trees but I know that through the winter we get through around 4 cords of wood and that is with some supplemental gas heating.

Unsubstantiated data from the web suggests that a tree with 21" diameter will yield a cord of wood. Yours are probably a fair bit less than this so you may need 10 or more trees cut and split per heating season - those 400 trees now look like a reasonable fuel reserve to make use of.

So my view - selectively thin and make firewood.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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How about taking some out as suggested and planting Siberian pine in their place. Then have a blueberry / serviceberry under story.

The spruce are great for wind breaks in the winter time too. They'll protect young fruit trees etc.
 
Peter Smith
Posts: 83
Location: NEPA
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Why Siberian pine? Edible nuts? I have been looking at some species for nut production. They do make a good wind break, but in a very poor location. And the way it is oriented, anything it protects, it also severely shades.
I have considered selective thinning. Trees are between 8 and 16 inches. The big question is how to safely cut down a 50 foot tree that is surrounded by other trees that will prevent it from falling. I could hook a tractor to it and drag it down, but I feel that would damage the other trees to the point that they might as well be cut too.
Maybe I will cut a section on the South side and plant blueberries.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Yes, edible nuts that are also easy to shell. They are also much easier to propagate than Korean pine.

It sucks about the shade thing. Maybe blueberries and mushrooms?
http://www.ehow.com/info_7753661_mushrooms-grow-beneath-pine-trees.html
 
Barry Fitzgerald
Posts: 43
Location: Welland, Ontario, Canada
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How about selling some extra large Christmas Trees ?
 
John Polk
master steward
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Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Or, build an airplane. Just kidding - despite its name, it was actually made of birch.
Largest airplane ever built - 200 tons loaded.

Spruce Goose.PNG
[Thumbnail for Spruce Goose.PNG]
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spruce_Goose
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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Spruce tips make a tasty beer adjunct. I'm curious if anyone is aware of any good edible mycorhizal associations with spruce.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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What species? DBH? Taper?

You have a basic monoculture plantation that has value and reflects past investment. Why not treat it as an investment and choose the best way forward in those terms? Within that framework, the question is "Is your best alternative use ("foregone use") for the same 'bare-ground' more or less valuable to you in context of your preferred time frame?"

So, to assess the value of this stand you'll have to decide what ecological benefits the species confers (easy research) and what products it can yield.

In Montana P. engelmannii is the preferred house-log tree because of its high tensile-strength:weight ratio. Light strong house-logs that have relatively good insulating value. The old-timers would set down a course of western larch (rot-resistant) and build E. spruce on top of them.

Personally, I use rough-cut 1" spruce boards around the site for everything imaginable because they're so freaking light. They aren't strong boards, and I wouldn't use them structurally.

And, they can make beautiful trim.

After you evaluate, if you choose to keep the stand for future products, then you'll want to do some thinning. Don't worry about retaining the euclidean pattern. Spruce tend to clump in natural regeneration. Pick for quality and retain the best/healthiest. If you are planning to harvest in the future for timber, invest the time now to limb (at least 10 feet up). (We are talking about a monoculture in rows, after all.) You'll have stronger trim and boards and fetch a better price.

And, I would plant every imaginable shade-tolerant, acid-tolerant tree, shrub, vine and herb I could get my hands on in the understory and find every source of local mycelia and mushrooms I could get my fingers on (esp. from old stands of the same species) and start inoculating. And look around at some olders, mixed stands in the area that includes your spruce species and see what likes to grow with it. Guaranteed you'll find evidence of a mycorrhizal relationship. Plant those species with some borrowed mycelium.
 
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