Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:00 am

Since we're on the topic of how fast certain trees can reach certain thresholds, and also just about Norway spruce growth. I though I'd share with you two interesting trees from my property.

IMG_9675.jpg
This American sycamore is one of only eight on my property, oddly enough they all grow in one site, which is dry and rocky no less, though I suspect the water table is close to the surface here as there are several wetland species occurring here. This area was cleared in 2002 and mowed until fall of 2003, it was abandoned after that and allowed to reseed naturally, two sycamores and at least one black birch reach 40' in height, this sycamore, however, was 49.9' as of a few months ago, it could have broken 50' since. It is only 14 years old, giving it an average annual growth of 3.5', it actually has started to slow down a little, it likely was exceeding 4' per year at one point in it's life.

With all this talk of Norway spruces, I decided to go measure a few of mine today to get some more data on the taller ones, they're a challenge to measures in the dense stands, but it's an enjoyable challenge. Anyway I was exploring the plantation that got hit hardest by the storm back in March and I was very excited to find the largest spruce at the site survived completely intact, not even a broken branch!
IMG_9936NS.jpg
The big tree on the left is the tree in question, it measures 104.8' in height, making it my tallest Norway spruce. I haven't gotten it's circumference yet, but it appears to be closing in on 6'. That's not a big Norway spruce, but what's remarkable is that I know it's age. Several spruces were blown down and snapped like match sticks, that allowed me to get several ring counts, all of the ones ring counted here were either 43 or 44 years old. I didn't measure it's annual growth, but it looks to be still growing at over 1' per year. The plantations actually interrupt a band of maple-ash rich woods on my property, this band has many hardwoods over 110' in height and a fair few over 120', interestingly my best black cherry trees grow here and so do quite a few American elms, the herbaceous layer in this band is a mix of wood ferns, white snakeroot, bluestem goldenrod, blue cohosh and red trillium, the understory is largely comprised of northern spicebush, despite it not being a wetland or having a stream, it's a very moist, high quality site, it's no wonder the spruces are achieving respectable heights already, I would love to see what another 50 years could do for this spruce, I have little doubt that it will someday make 150', the question is when. Also notice the super-skinny bent Norway, I have reason to believe that it was actually taller before the blowdown event.

Joshua
Last edited by JHarkness on Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lucas
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by Lucas » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:35 pm

JHarkness wrote:some of the Norway spruce were planted way, way too dense to begin with.
How dense? 2 feet apart?
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Lucas
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by Lucas » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:36 pm

ElijahW wrote:Lucas, Do you know if this is open grown or in a plantation?
Waiting on the fb poster.
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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:08 pm

Lucas,

In some cases, yes, two feet apart. But most were planted between three and six feet apart, quite a few of them have now gotten quite large and are only two or three feet apart now, fortunately, blowdown over the past two decades has removed enough of the trees to give the healthier ones an advantage, I don't dare think what this place would have been like had these spruces been perfectly protected and not been hit by microbursts, blizzards and hurricanes, something like the bent over 100' tall 6" DBH spruce in my photo comes to mind...
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by gnmcmartin » Thu Sep 27, 2018 8:42 am

Joshua:

At SUNY Syracuse, considerable work has been done on Norway spruce, including growth curves. Those show an absolutely steady growth rate from the time they are 4.5 feet tall for the next 50 years. There is no "bending over" of the curve at that point, and on the best sites they reached almost 115 feet tall. This means that at the 50 year mark, after reaching 4.5 feet in height, the growth rate will still be at 27 inches per year. I assume at that point, or shortly afterwards, a decline begins. In my groves, there seems to be a decline sooner than observed in central NY--mine are now growing at about 22 inches per year.

As for the trees becoming too crowded and becoming too skinny and weak--nope! I had extensive conversations with three of those involved in NS research, including the Dean of Research, Edwin White. Dr. White told me that Norway spruce trees are able to express dominance in a dense stand just as well as white pine. This means that no matter the initial planting density, the stronger trees will outgrow the weaker, slower growing ones, and achieve a dominant position. The weaker trees over time will die, be bent over as one of yours was, etc. He said that over the long, long term, meaning 100 years or more, a stand planted at any density, and never thinned, would result in just as fine an eventual stand as one that is "babied" as mine have been. The difference, of course, is that my thinning and pruning makes the stand much, much more attractive in the meantime.

--Gaines

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:05 am

Gaines,

I did more searching and managed to find a few more trees that I could ring count, a fallen 101' spruce was 42 years old, it's very similar in size to the 104.8-footer and is right next to it, so it's reasonable to say that they could be the same age. I also measured the annual growth of several of the spruces, the tallest has grown 20 inches this year but slowed down considerably from 26 inches last year, all of the spruces here appear to have done so, perhaps due to stress from the blowdown? It'll be interesting to see if they accelerate again next year. I'm pleased at the amount of regeneration here already, there is tons of black birch, Norway spruce, white ash, sugar maple, red maple, black cherry and surprisingly a northern red oak (surprising because it's quite far away from the nearest northern red oaks), there's also red elderberry and some non-natives such as bittersweet and amur corktree. I plan to pretty much leave this stand alone to see how it recovers on it's own, I would use this as a model for thinning in other stands. The only thing I plan to do here is remove invasives and reclear the trail through stand.

I suspect the difference in growth between here and central New York is largely about soil, the soil is generally quite high quality over there (perhaps that's not the case at SUNY's research plot?) while here it can often be high quality, but often has a lot of rock, or is very thin organic soil and clay on top of glacial scree.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Lucas
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by Lucas » Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:35 am

Lucas wrote:
ElijahW wrote:Lucas, Do you know if this is open grown or in a plantation?
Waiting on the fb poster.
the fb poster says open.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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gnmcmartin
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by gnmcmartin » Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:33 pm

Joshua:

The Norway spruce growth curves study done at SUNY Syracuse is, unfortunately, not on-line. You can, however, call the Department of Environmental Science and Forestry, and request a copy. I believe they would send you one. Edwin White is now retired. The last time I talked to him--at his home--was about 4 years ago.

But, in the meantime, let me clarify. This study was not done on any experimental plot at the University. It was done on a large number of stands of NS planted during the CCC years. Maybe a couple dozen stands were studied, but I can't remember that detail.

The methodology was to select a few--I can't now remember the number exactly--of the tallest spruces in each stand. All of these trees were "destructively sampled," meaning they were carefully sliced from top to bottom, and each year's growth, individually, was measured. If they found that one or more of the trees they selected had a high number of weevil attacks, they were discarded, and other trees replaced them.

The stands they studied were on sites of different quality, i.e. site indexes for NS. Curves for sites of different qualities were plotted--I believe 3 different site index values--and all showed a steady growth rate for the 50-year period studied, but, of course, with different growth rates.

Another of the NS studies they did, which I found very interesting, was site factors. I am sure SUNY would send you a copy of that one also. But, we must understand that these were done for sites in Central NY, and the findings might not always apply to sites elsewhere. I am sure that if you make a request, you can find out just which stands were studied and where. But, I would assume that many of these sites may have subsequently had all their NS "harvested," which has happened to so many of the NS CCC plantings in recent years.

Anyway, I found some the findings a bit "counter intuitive." For example, position on a slope was not a factor in growth, nor was exposure. There was one "comment" accompanying this report, that I found very interesting. It was not a part of the site factors calculated, but was in an accompanying "note." That is that a minimum of 75 kg of magnesium was needed per hectare for the best growth of NS. Areas where the soil is relatively low in magnesium will generally not show good growth of NS. If one has NS on their property, and it seems "sub-par," a test for magnesium can be useful, and if it is low, adding some might improve the growth and apearance of the NS.

The growth rate of your trees seems exceptionally fine to me, and if you are counting the total age, not just the time since they were 4.5 feet tall, you are very significantly above the rate for those on the best sites studied in central NY. The trees on my timberland, on class II forest soils, seem also to be above the top growth for those studied. But since their growth has slowed significantly as they approach the 40-year mark after what I calculate was the 4.5 foot height mark, they may not beat the 114 feet, or whatever it was exactly, reported for the best sites in central NY. In any case, the growth curves for NS on my timberland would probably show something slightly different from what was calculated for the SUNY study.

You might consider felling the severely damaged trees now, or at least some of them. If you wait, felling them later could damage more significantly the young trees growing underneath or near them. NS trees with broken tops do often recover very, very nicely, especially if growing in the open. But if they are in a stand, near taller trees that compete with them, they will never catch up, and will always be inferior trees, and won't look very good. I have removed almost all of the badly broken trees in my stands, excepting those that I feel are needed to maintain the "integrity" of the stand. In my current TSI work, I have so far felled about 150 NS trees, with about 70% of them severely damaged.

--Gaines

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Gaines,

Very interesting, I didn't realize that multiple sites were selected, I got the impression that it was just done on a few plantations in one location, thank you for clarifying. I would completely believe that exposure is only a minor limiting factor in Norway spruce height, I've identified two 100-footers, one possibly 100-footer that is near-impossible to measure, one 99.9-footer and one fallen 101-footer. Norway spruces of over 100' don't occur anywhere else on my property, the next closest is a 99.3-footer in a protected little "cove" in another plantation, there is a 40' elevation difference between their bases and the 99.3-footer has many other tall spruces around it giving it wind protection. The tallest spruces are all within a hundred feet of eachother, with the two tallest and the fallen one bein within twenty feet of eachother, I believe they're just growing in a pocket of better soil, they sit on top of a small ridge and are well exposed to wind from the west and from the east, I'm really amazed that they've managed to survive some of the bad storms we've had recently without any damage (apart from the one fallen tree).



I am planning on thinning the more protected stand as the majority of the spruces there have completely lost their tops, but were not blown over so they're still shading out quite a lot of the understory, though it's less substantial than before, I think just a little bit of work here and there would really benefit the stand.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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