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Perry Hill Norway Spruce Plantations

Posted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:54 pm
by JHarkness
ENTS,

Since we've been discussing norway spruce a lot lately, I thought I would share a few photos and measurements from my norway spruce plantations. Few, if any, exceptional trees grow here presently, but it's remarkable seeing the growth of the norway spruce since it was planted, most of the norway spruces here were planted around 1977 and are approximately 45 years old now. Most of the spruces are between 85 and 95', with a few outliers, not many exceed 95', but a few that do are pushing 105' now. Circumference was not taken on most trees as most are typically between 3 and 4 feet in circumference, I typically will only record Norway spruces over 5' or just ones that looked large. Back in March, the plantations got hit hard by a blizzard that brought high winds and heavy wet snow, close to half of the spruces were killed and the majority were severely injured, fortunately, some of the largest and tallest spruces escaped relatively unscathed. I also am planning to start thinning one of the plantations to improve tree vigor and allow the almost completely shaded out understory a chance to develop, presently this place is little more than a monoculture, but I'm hopeful that I can change that.


Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP002
Height: 95.8'

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP003
Height: 89.9'

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP004
Height: 95.6'
Circumference: 5' 2"

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP005
Height: 98.3'
Circumference: 4' 8"

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP006
Height: 99.3'

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP007/Perry Hill Spruce
Height: 104.8'
Circumference: 4' 11"

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP008
Height: 101.1'

Norway Spruce
Code/Name: SP009
Height: 99.9'

Unknown Cherry
Code/Name: SP010
Height: 78.0'

SP007 on left, SP008 on right, two tallest Norway spruces at site.
SP007 on left, SP008 on right, two tallest Norway spruces at site.
SP007 and SP008 again, 104.8' and 101.'1 respectively.
SP007 and SP008 again, 104.8' and 101.'1 respectively.
Recovering herbaceous layer in a canopy gap from a downed red oak.  Regeneration of black birch, black cherry, sugar maple, red maple, white ash, American beech, hemlock and Norway spruce are all present here.
Recovering herbaceous layer in a canopy gap from a downed red oak. Regeneration of black birch, black cherry, sugar maple, red maple, white ash, American beech, hemlock and Norway spruce are all present here.
SP004, 95.6' tall with a 5' 2" circumference, leader was damaged at some point resulting in a spreading crown with multiple leaders, this tree probably would have the highest point score of my Norway spruces.
SP004, 95.6' tall with a 5' 2" circumference, leader was damaged at some point resulting in a spreading crown with multiple leaders, this tree probably would have the highest point score of my Norway spruces.
Typical canopy in one of the plantations, "monoculture" is a word that certainly comes to mind when seeing this...  Though there are scattered maples, birches, ashes and cherries mixed in with the spruces, and hemlock has recently moved into the understory.
Typical canopy in one of the plantations, "monoculture" is a word that certainly comes to mind when seeing this... Though there are scattered maples, birches, ashes and cherries mixed in with the spruces, and hemlock has recently moved into the understory.
SP006, 99.3' tall.  The large spruce behind it to the right is certainly close in size, and could possibly be taller, but I haven't been able to measure it, it appears to have a broken top, however.
SP006, 99.3' tall. The large spruce behind it to the right is certainly close in size, and could possibly be taller, but I haven't been able to measure it, it appears to have a broken top, however.

Near the north end of one of the plantations, a number of hardwoods mix in, most are around 40 years of age, mixed in with them is one unknown cherry, pin cherry perhaps? I don't believe it is a cultivated cherry that escaped, there was never any interest in establishing fruit trees (besides apples) on my property or on any of the surrounding properties. It measures 78.0' in height and appears to be in good health.
Unknown cherry.
Unknown cherry.
Bark of unknown cherry.
Bark of unknown cherry.
Leaf of unknown cherry.
Leaf of unknown cherry.
IMG_0026.jpg

Re: Perry Hill Norway Spruce Plantations

Posted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:37 pm
by Lucas
http://ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=201 ... ine+weevil

Any pine weevil damage on your NS? It is common here. This post has a fair bit on it I think.

Re: Perry Hill Norway Spruce Plantations

Posted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:58 pm
by gnmcmartin
Joshua:

Yes, some nice looking trees. Lucas asked about weevil damage. Looking at the pictures, I am not sure I can tell just how much. In my groves, I had considerable, with leaders killed in about 40% of the trees each year. This usually did not affect the growth significantly, but after so many attacks, a good number of the trees developed forks. I cut a good many of these forks out for a number of years, but now I am no longer able to climb up to cut them, and they have now grown too much to be removed. Forked trees are more vulnerable to splitting, so if I can, I cut them to favor trees with better form. As of now, the trees are so tall the weevils leave them alone.

I see a lot of potential in your photos for outstanding Norway spruce groves. Your storm damage looks a bit worse than what my spruce groves suffered, but in places the damage I have is about the same, or a bit worse. In a few spots groups of 5 or 6 were all destroyed together. In other places, most survived unscathed. I have seen some groves not too far away where 80% of the NS trees were broken.

Horrible storms!! What happened would have to be seen to be believed!

I will see if I can get some pictures in my groves. My computer "croaked" recently, and I have not gotten going with my picture taking and "processing" again. I am so busy trying to finish up with my TSI, I am reluctant to take the time for picture taking. I live away from my timberland, and it is hard to get enough time there to do a fraction of what needs to be done. I think I have a few old pictures taken 8 or 10 years ago. Maybe I should send one of those.

As for the cherry, looks like pin cherry, but if the fruits are fairly large, no.

--Gaines

Re: Perry Hill Norway Spruce Plantations

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:35 pm
by gnmcmartin
Joshua:

I would like to discuss your Norway spruce a bit more specifically . If I understand what you have said about the ages and heights, you may well have some truly exceptionally fast growing Norway spruce. So, they were planted in 1977 or about that time. That would make them 41 years old. In the other topic you said 42. Not much difference there.

OK, assuming they were planted as seedlings, the fastest a seedling, almost always, can reach the 4.5 foot height baseline used for the SUNY growth curves study, in no less than 4 years. So yours could have reached that point no earlier than 38 years ago. These trees are already 104 or 105 feet tall. You are in NY, but maybe not very close to what SUNY calls "central" NY. But, if the continued growth rate is anything close to what the forest research scientists at SUNY observed, your tree at the 50 year mark after the baseline 4.5 feet was achieved, will be rather "astonishing." Even if the growth rate has now declined to 22 inches per year, that adds up to an additional 22 feet of height by the 50 year mark. 104 plus 22 equals 126, which is 12 or 13 feet above the best NS growth observed in central NY.

Yes, you don't like monocultures. Well Norway spruce, with the exception of eastern hemlock, produce the most pure monocultures that occur in our north eastern forests. Personally I love my NS monocultures and find them incredibly beautiful. Yes, I am trying to sway you, but no, I can't really argue about what you should do with your own land. BUT, if you could accept at least some NS monoculture, in time what you have could be a real "eye-popper" for a tree lover like me. Thinned out, and pruned a bit, you could have a 160 foot or taller "showcase" in 25 years. Frankly, I wish I had that opportunity here!

But, while I am here, and NS is the topic, let me digress a bit. So little NS has been left to grow anywhere in the US, that people are really clueless about the potential. Here is an example that I have observed for about 40 or 45 years--the small stand of NS at the Penn Alps Artisan Village just east of Grantsville, MD. These trees were originally planted in rows on something like 20 or 25 foot centers. My guess is they were planted in the early 30's and are a remnant of a CCC planting. But I have not researched this. They are also planted on a medium forest site--class III according to the MD soils survey handbook.

When I first saw this stand, I didn't think much of it. The trees were nice, "sort of," and I enjoyed them. But they were inferior to the best I had seen Well, now, for me anyway, after slowly looking better and better over the years, they are gorgeous. My guess is they could be something like 115 or maybe even 120 feet tall. OK, that's nothing special, but every time I am in the area, I stop and take a walk through this grove. I flat out love it.

In addition, I don't believe that the strain of NS there is anywhere near the best. NS is native to an extremely wide area in Europe, and depending on the taxonomist you talk to, also all across Asia. So the genetic make up of NS varies a lot, and some strains are more adapted to specific regions in the US than others. I have written elsewhere in the BBS about that. In any case, my point here is that NS, with time, becomes more and more gorgeous, and its growth is remarkably persistent compared to some other trees in the NE part of the US.

Getting back to the remarkable growth of your NS. My NS is at best between 90 and maybe up to 95 feet. The trees are 50 years old, and are of varying age since the 4.5 height benchmark was achieved. When My trees reach the full 50 year mark used by the SUNY study, they will be "spot on" the 114 or so height mark. I have searched out and "surveyed" all the NS I have been able to find within about 60 miles of my timberland. My NS is the best I know of. There was a stand near Glady WV that was better, but that was cut about 8 years ago. So now mine is tops. But yours beats mine by well over 10 feet. You do have something special there!

--Gaines

Re: Perry Hill Norway Spruce Plantations

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 2018 2:00 pm
by JHarkness
Gaines, Lucas,

My spruces were likely planted in 1977, possibly 1978, I'm figuring that they were between two and four years old at the time of the planting, the one I ring counted was 42 years old about eight inches off the ground, so it probably was 43 or 44 years old, the oldest I found would was 44 years old two feet off the ground, so 46 years old is quite likely, they're obviously of varying age. Let me also point out that these trees died before this growing season, so the most recent rings are from 2017. The two tallest (104.8' and 101.1') were about equal in size to the tree I counted 42 rings on, and were within thirty feet of that tree, so I would imagine the two tallest ones are the same age, but there could be some variation. Most of my spruces top out between 90 and 95 feet, with a few not yet reaching 90, the 95-100 footers and 100-105 footers are split between two sites and are all within a short distance of eachother, which makes me think it has something to do with soil quality or water availability. That reminds me, the tall spruces sit practically on top of a now dried up stream, the lower part of this stream still flows occasionally, but not often, I had no idea that it was farther up the mountain until I discovered an abundance of northern spicebush that grows all along what appears to be a stream corridor, some past agricultural or ecological event caused this stream to stop flowing, perhaps it was the disappearance of the understory along it's upper reaches thanks to deer, or the invasion of non-native black oaks which has transitioned the normal sugar maple-beech forest into an dry oak-hickory forest? I suspect that there is still abundant groundwater along this stream corridor, and perhaps that's the reason for the fast growth.


As for the monoculture of spruces, I do intend to keep a few patches like that, they have historically provided cover for deer and bobcat in the winter, so I don't want to disrupt that. Some areas are rapidly changing now anyway, following the blowdown, they certainly don't offer the cover they once did. On top of that I've noticed that most wildlife tends to avoid this stand on windy days due to how much the skinnier trees get whipped around, many often break, sometimes even on fairly calm days, so obviously removing them would help. What I ultimately want is to increase diversity, increase wildlife habitat, and get species like hemlock and white pine growing here to replace the spruces some day, if these spruces can do this well here, think about what white pines would be like on this site? I suspect there were some on this at one time, I just wish they were still around, or that the species hadn't been abused and harvested as it was beginning to recover here. I do actually have some evidence for this, my neighbor has a huge white pine, certainly over 120' and probably over 130' tall, perhaps even 140', but it's a very youthful tree, I would guess that it's only around seventy years of age based on the age of the surrounding forest, and I have historical aerial imagery that backs that up. The remarkable thing is that it's in a much less productive site than the spruces.


As for weevils, some of the trees have damage, but not many. I assumed all of the multi-leader trees were attacked by them at some point, but many of the forks are a good 50-60' off the ground and seem more like storm injuries to me, some could be weevils though. I have a huge Norway in front of my house that is a little older than the plantations, it got attacked bad and has five leaders, unfortunately it's in decline, I don't think it's going to be around much longer unfortunately.

I haven't collected any fruits from the cherry, but I noticed some fallen ones this summer and they were quite small, the only ornamental cherry nearby that I know of is a sweet cherry, the only other species I think it could possibly be is sour cherry, but that's typically more of a multi-stemmed shrub from what I understand, and there haven't been any planted nearby.


Joshua