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Author Topic: Good spruce, bad spruce  (Read 1202 times)

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Offline Clark

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Good spruce, bad spruce
« on: May 12, 2018, 09:52:02 PM »
If there is one thing that northern MN doesn't lack, it's poor quality black spruce. We literally have hundreds of thousands of acres of spruce that look like this:





These trees never amount to anything substantial. 3" in diameter is about tops and they might grow to 20' tall. Of course, they live forever and nothing else will ever grow in these areas. "Unproductive forested wetland" is a good technical term for these areas. The ground is covered in sphagnum moss and typically the poorer the spruce, the more difficult it is to walk. It's been a while since I've been over the actual science but it has something to do with the pH of the water causes the sphagnum to grow in hummocks that might be 3' tall in places. Not that I'm complaining, Canada has millions of acres of this...

Today I had the pleasure of working in some of the best black spruce I have ever seen:





You can see the forest floor which is also sphagnum but it is nice and flat, firm and easy to walk on. The trees were well stocked and there were a number of 8-stick black spruce here. Total volume came out to 46 cords/acre, two-thirds of which was black spruce the other third tamarack. To try and put this into perspective, I've cruised thousands of acres of black spruce and I can recall one other stand that had over 30 cords/acre!

It is in stands like this when you happen to be there while there are no mosquitoes, the temperatures are mild and the birds are singing that you slow down and appreciate what a great job you have. If only I could cruise spruce like this every day.

Clark
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Offline barbender

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 10:36:34 PM »
There are a few places that grow black spruce like that. I remember one stand where not only was I sorting saw bolts, I had one that was close to being over Potlatch's 20" max! Those really good sites have usually been a wet sand area, not the peat muck that most black spruce grows in. Common in the area north of Nashwauk over to Bearville.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 10:48:58 PM »
Just west of Ashland, Maine, by where Gman is, there are, or at least were - it's been a while since I was there, black spruce stands that would make you cry - straight as an arrow, 20 - 24" dbh, and nothing growing under them.  Back in the mid '90's an old guy went hunting in one of those stands and vanished, I mean completely vanished, huge search for him for weeks, ground, air, horseback, absolutely nothing was ever found.  
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Offline Logger RK

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2018, 08:21:44 AM »
I think Charlie Daniels has a song of such a place.

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2018, 12:25:26 PM »
I sawed some nice black spruce last summer. I wish I could get it on a regular basis. Small knots and sawed great. This stuff came from the Catskill mountains.
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Offline barbender

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2018, 01:48:50 PM »
Good black spruce makes the nicest softwood lumber I've ever seen👍
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Offline timbco68

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2018, 12:15:09 PM »
Hey barbender, Bearville is where my grandma went to school in that little old 1 room schoolhouse. When she got married she moved to the suburbs of Embarrass .

Offline barbender

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2018, 01:13:18 PM »
How did she adapt to the big city livin'?😁
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Clark

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Re: Good spruce, bad spruce
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2018, 06:48:44 PM »
It does seem that the best black spruce grows in those smaller depressions surrounded by higher ground. Invariably they are small stands. The first picture is from glacial lake Upham and there are thousands of acres just like that. Glacial lake Agassiz is much larger and takes the cake for poor quality black spruce but it does have some amazing patterned peatlands.

I'd like to see some black spruce up near 20", you may have been cutting the state record tree!

Clark
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