Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

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Lucas
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Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by Lucas » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:37 pm


Click on image to see its original size

"Norway spruce growth rings."

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1490961 ... ?__tn__=-R
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:25 pm

Lucas,

I don't find this too surprising, in the late 1970s a ton of Norway spruces were planted on my property, most are now right around 90' tall with the more protected trees reaching up to 100' tall, the plantations were never thinned and got hit hard by a blizzard last winter, I ring counted a few trees in the 90-95' height class and found that they were on average 44 years old when they died. These were in dense stands with extreme light competition, so some trees never got large in terms of circumference, but grew incredibly tall, they still had very widely spaced rings, white pine would be the only native tree in a naturally seeded environment that I've seen with sparser rings that them. An open grown Norway spruce here could easily put on the annual girth increase shown in this photo, those on a high quality site could do this even better. It's incredible to compare these fast growing spruces to say, an understory hemlock, sugar maple or beech. I've ring counted several beech in the 2" DBH class at around 60 years of age, and I recently ring counted a 3" DBH hemlock to 94 years of age a foot off the ground. Now if we want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, I cut down a tree-of-heaven that had sneaked into a stand of witch hazels and was completely hidden from view, it was almost a foot in diameter and was likely between 60 and 70 feet tall, it was only 13 years old, however.

More on the Norways, I'll actually be thinning several of the plantations and clearing part of another this winter, I plan to create an inventory of ring counts from various individuals, I also plan to measure annual height increases throughout the life times of some of the trees. It should prove to be an interesting research project and I will certainly share my results here. In the end, I want to remove the manmade feel of the plantations by eliminating rows of planted trees, creating an uneven aged structure and establishing an understory of native trees and shrubs, such as hemlock, sugar maple, yellow birch and hobblebush, right now that is impossible given that only Canada mayflower and the most shade tolerant of wood ferns are surviving under the shade of these competing spruces.

Joshua
"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 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:42 am

Joshua:

I am not sure how many acres of Norway spruce you have, so I am not sure if you can leave a part as a dense stand. I have several acres--maybe close to 8 or so. What I have done is thinned and pruned for the 33 years I have owned this parcel. My trees are about 50 years old and are now about 90 to 95 feet tall. I love the effect of these trees in a dense stand, towering up. Personally I can't imagine anything more beautiful. They were originally planted in rows, but after a good many were dug up for nursery stock, and others taken for Christmas trees, and then after I bought the place, thinned regularly to favor the best trees, the sense that they were ever in rows has been completely lost.

I have pruned some of them up to about 30 feet, but since I have not done any pruning for the last ten years, there is a lot more that it would be nice if I had the time to do. I am now working through another TSI thinning. I am cutting down the trees, but because the stand is so dense, there are not many "felling alleys" so to speak. So, many get hung up, and I cut them down section by section, and then when they are on the ground, limb them, and cut them again when the trunks cross each other so there are no obstructions to walking. Essentially, I get everything flat, and just leave it where it lies, so it can serve as organic, slow release fertilizer.

If you were near by, which you are not, I could show you what I have done, how I have done it, and what the results look like. This is a lot of labor, more than anyone but a tree nut like me would want to get involved with. But I really like the work, spending time in the groves, and love the result. I would like to still be alive to see these trees in another 15 years or so, but I am 80 now, so....

--Gaines

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ElijahW
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by ElijahW » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:06 am

Lucas,

Do you know if this is open grown or in a plantation?

The thread on the fast growing eucalyptus trees in Australia got me to thinking if any species, native or otherwise, could achieve 150’ in height within its first 100 years in upstate NY. The same question could be asked about other parts of the eastern US, of course, but NY is what I’m most familiar with.

So far I haven’t seen a single tree reach the 150’ mark within a century, but several species have a very good chance. Here’s what I know today:

1. Eastern White Pine: ~145’ in 100 years
2. Tuliptree: ~145’ in 80 years (many examples of 140’+ in 80-90 years)
3. Norway Spruce: 140’ in 80 years
4. Bitternut Hickory: A big wildcard; Zoar Valley has several over 140’ and one over 150’. Green Lakes SP has at least one over 140’. The age of these trees is unknown, but some appear fairly young.

Elijah
"There is nothing in the world to equal the forest as nature made it. The finest formal forest, the most magnificent artificially grown woods, cannot compare with the grandeur of primeval woodland." Bob Marshall, Recreational Limitations to Silviculture in the Adirondacks

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:43 am

Gaines,

I have 4 acres of Norway spruce and 3 of white spruce (which is arguably native here), basically the stands haven't been thinned at all since they were planted, some of the Norway spruce were planted way, way too dense to begin with. I've always loved the look of them, but it's really just a mono culture of Norway spruce presently, with a few naturally seeded black birch and white pine scattered throughout, the only understory plant I've observed is spinulose wood fern, I've observed a band of maple-ash rich woods which are interrupted by these plantations, so I ultimately want to allow the natural forest here to reestablish itself while retaining some of the Norways for timber, aesthetic value and ecological value (I actually have quite a few barred owls that nest in them). Sadly I won't be able to keep the tall towering dense stands that you described, back in March we got hit with one of the worst winter storms I can remember, we had heavy wet snow and extremely high winds, about 60% of the Norways were either were severely damaged or completely killed, none escaped without any damage. Most of the remaining ones have broken tops, I don't see this as a disaster, I see it as a chance for recovery, a native understory should begin to establish itself naturally now with the increased light and I now have some large enough areas to drop trees into, I have a few personal projects I'm working on that I could use spruce lumber for, so I plan to purchase a portable sawmill and make something out of some of the higher quality damaged Norways. The plan presently would be to remove enough of the downed spruces to allow access to the stand again and fell the unhealthiest standing trees, the hope would be that repeating this over the next few years would allow for the healthiest spruces to thrive, an understory to develop (fortunately deer are not a problem in these plantations) and for coarse woody debris to build up (on the forest floor, not caught up in standings trees like a lot of it is presently). Ultimately, I don't want the Norway spruces to be here, I want the stands to eventually turn into a native hemlock-northern hardwood forest, but I do like the Norways and want to see them live up to their full potential while continuing to provide at least some ecological benefit, this will happen naturally, but I think that thinning in the next few years and keeping it in an uneven aged structure would benefit it incredibly and drastically speed up the transition process.

A few years ago, I probably wouldn't have wanted to do this, but I was very inspired when I saw last year that some blowdown from a few years ago had filled in with birch, ash, maple and hemlock seedlings, countless wood ferns, christmas ferns and patches of hay-scented fern, bluestem goldenrod, white snakeroot and various spring ephemerals are now doing well here as well, interestingly, the forest floor became covered in a native species of bedstraw, it's just an incredible sea of green, the dense understory that is starting here is already providing cover for birds and small mammals, the latter of which are using the coarse woody debris from some of the blowdown for protection, I want to see more areas in these plantations given a chance to thrive like this.

I also really enjoy working in the woods, and actually like taking on big, long term projects like this, so yes, I'm definetely willing to do this and keep it up for a while. Perhaps you could post a few photos of your work (assuming you haven't already done so), I'm sure I'm not the only one who would enjoy seeing what you've done?

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

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:47 am

Elijah,

I suspect white ash could possibly do this in good growing conditions, I have a healthy 40-year old white ash here that is approximately 90' tall already and showing no sign of slowing down. However, there aren't any known 150-foot ashes in New York presently. I know of a tuliptree that could do this someday as well, it's a 50 year old specimen on a very rich, moist site and it's already 107' tall.

Joshua
"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 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:59 pm

Joshua:

Well, I have almost 300 acres encompassing just about every forest type in my area, plus beaver ponds and beaver meadows, fields and what all. Yikes! So, my Norway spruce groves while they, in themselves, are of limited biological diversity, on the landscape scale, they add to it.

Years ago our area was devastated by Superstorm Sandy in early November. 30 inches of wet sticky snow fell with high winds, and 35% or so of my Norway spruce were destroyed, or had severely broken tops. For a while I was a bit depressed, and wondered if I could ever do anything to "fix" the damage. But now I am doing just that, and in spite of the losses, the groves are looking quite beautiful.

I had also nice white spruce plantings, but, you need to believe this--absolutely every single tree--many hundreds of them, were all COMPLETELY destroyed! I have left these areas completely alone. With all the mashed trees, the deer can't get in to eat the hardwood and hemlock seedlings So, in this case, doing nothing is actually the best silvicultural treatment. I also had some beautiful larch, and because the needles had not yet fallen off, they were destroyed. And hemlocks were severely hit. It took over two weeks for power to be restored to the area. Several counties in the region had absolutely ALL the power out.

But almost all the hardwood trees had their leaves already off, so they were generally undamaged. Beech trees, the smaller ones, still had brown leaves on, and they were destroyed. But, the beach bark/scale disease has mostly wiped out all the beech now anyway, so...

--Gaines

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JHarkness
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by JHarkness » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:01 pm

Gaines,

I know what you mean, my forest is primarily hardwood, though there is a fair amount of hemlock, I suspect that hemlock was the dominant tree on many sites here, with sugar maple and beech being more common on slightly higher quality sites. I suspect most of my property had beech and maple as dominant species, but the wetter and rockier areas had a dominance of hemlock, with some white pine mixed in, that's just not the case today, the white pines have vanished, I suspect a previous owner put some effort into removing the highest quality white pines as the forest was recovering, leaving just a scattering of weevil damaged pines, something similar happened to the hemlock to suppress it to the understory, I have hemlocks up to 200 years of age, maybe some older, but most are suppressed by slightly older sugar maples and red oaks, I suspect someone removed many of the largest hemlocks when that part of the forest was young, anyway, my point is that conifers aren't as common as they once were here, so the Norway spruces do add the benefit of a dense conifer stand in a hardwood forest, I actually wanted to leave them be, apart from some minor thinning, but last winter's snow storm really destroyed it as a dense stand, sadly I've noticed that the owl population has declined here, there used to be eastern screech owls here as well, but I haven't heard or seen any since the storm, so I see this as my opportunity for change.


It sounds like the damage from Sandy there was comparable with the blizzard we had this past winter here, I don't remember the exact snow total, but it seems like we got at least 30 inches in the area, the wind was the worst I have ever seen here, I recorded frequent gusts to over 60mph on my weather station (which is in a protected area) and a nearby weather station picked up several gusts to 80mph. The wind seemed like it would never stop, it continued gusting to well over 50mph for another two days after the storm, I didn't have power for three weeks, it took two months to fully restore power to the area, apparently.


I considered leaving all of the downed trees in place to keep deer out, but I was suspicious that there really was that much deer browse there, I figured the biggest issue here was just shading from the spruce, I examined nearby areas and used motion-activated cameras to see if deer were browsing here, as it turns out, there are only three deer that browse in these plantations regularly, and they're often not even around, there's also a coywolf presence here and it seems that a coywolf recently got a deer in one of the plantations, some small canopy gaps have adequate regeneration here as well, so overall, I'm not too concerned, but others areas of the property have an awful deer problem, so it's something I need to keep an eye on. Long term, I think it's better to remove some of the debris to allow access and management of the stands, while perhaps protecting or increasing it around canopy gaps for regeneration.

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

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dbhguru
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by dbhguru » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:15 pm

Elijah, et al.,

The Buckland Norway Spruce is about 151.5 feet tall and was probably planted in the 1930s as part of a WPA project. I'm not sure. I suppose it could have been planted a little earlier, but doubt it. So this may be our only 150/-foot tree that is under a hundred years old measured in the Northeast. Need to investigate.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Norway spruce growth Edwards, New York

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:19 am

One other possibility comes to my mind- the dense stand of young tuliptrees on a slope in Shu Swamp preserve on Long Island, which includes multiple 150' trees and maxed out at 157.3 when last measured in 2016, is described as originating after the slope's chestnut stand was salvage logged in the blight era. If so, some of these 150' trees could be 100 years old or less. The record is not definitive, however- these trees could have coexisted with the chestnuts from an earlier point and continued growing in their wake. However, the lack of remnant chestnut stumps, and density and uniformity of the stand suggest to me that the slope was fully cleared and then the tulips present resulted from a single stand initiation period following that clearing. Certainly their presented age characteristics are similar to tulips I cored on a less productive site in WNY that were ~80 years old, though less large.

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