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Author Topic: Selecting Culls  (Read 362 times)

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Online mike_belben

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Selecting Culls
« on: May 12, 2021, 01:28:11 PM »
Im only a layman here.   but a passionate pro-bono enthusiast has just as much capacity for observation as a paid expert, (2 eyes and a brain) so after 5 years of looking at the same trees and cutting and dissecting similar ones i feel like im reasonably equipped to bring up the subject of how to choose your hardwood thinning culls, and i really hope some actual pros will jump in and get the ball rolling on a valuable thread for others to discover in years to come.


White Oak is by far my most valuable economic crop tree so it gets my fullest attention.  White Oak is pretty slow growing and is shade intolerant.  It will die in the shade very slowly while consuming resources that a neighboring tree could have used to grow faster, so i work to hasten the removal of the inevitable losers.  sometimes this is hard to determine.  and every time, it is a shame when you removed the wrong one that actually had a bright future.  i call it cutters remorse in my head. 


this is a collection of bark photos on the losers.  the extra-mossy, dark coloration and blocky bark pattern is the giveaway, in my lowly opinion. the butt of a dying white oak will look just like the bark of an old black gum.  without leaves i really have to look up hard at the limb structure to distinguish them.  





both of these:




this is another WO in decline and though the bark is not blocky, it is falling off and powdery and the tree has an air of general poor health.






if you look up at these trees, the leaves are stunted in emergence compared to others, the crowns are mostly a single leader like a Christmas tree or atleast quite constrained for lack of space in the canopy top.  theyre folded in like a broom stick between dominant brocolli topped canopy trees and are dying slow.  covered in epicormic branches that have sprung up for a wisp of light and then died in the shade and rotted off.  if the only leaf shoots are off of brittle and stubby, flaky limbs you are looking at a dying tree no matter how small it is.  

when i drop one of these small blocky white oaks, i always find a walnut brown color and many many more growth rings than expected, so thin you may not be able to distinguish them.  its dense nature makes it actually pretty desirable for a knife handle or pistol grips, etc.   40 years old at 7" butt cut, that sort of small. 

this tree has served its purpose by keeping other, better trees growing upward instead of outward.  its time to put this one in the stove and jumpstart a new generation of seedlings between the brocolli-shaped keepers.  that will help provide quicker replacements for when you harvest the mature ones that shaded these frail little white oaks to death. 


now this next one is an average looking, okay white oak.  from top to bottom the tree is alive and not amazing but not in bad shape in any way other than that bulb in the trunk thats probably covering a skidder scar.  i cant grade it any further than that without cutting it down.  maybe you pros can.  this is the type of tree that i will leave on the stump until i need to saw it or sell it or need the ground it occupies or its condition changes. but when that happens i will have no reservation.  its a relief to have a good reason to cull it rather than just because.  this is too close to being in a valuable diameter class and too clear for me to cut it just for some sunlight.  sunlight is cheap and old trees should not be. 






now my healthiest white oaks have a very noble structure, very proud canopy, and a light light gray, bright color with platy bark like white shale glued on to a pole.  these i keep and release at almost any cost to surrounding encroachers.  the only only only time i will ever cut one is when its either turned to dying, or i need the money to keep a human from dying.  or if its got a very substantial defect or is where a house or septic must absolutely go.  i will build a road around a good enough white oak. 

this is an example of a beautifully healthy white oak that has a huge seam up the buttlog and a big nest hole in the first crotch. it was shading syrup maples and i finally fed it bar oil.  note the platy bark, very light color, and lack of moss above waist high. 










finally.. when you simply need more light on the floor and just have to make those hard choices.  if you can look during spring you can see which ones are putting foliage on slower but if you cant the bark can help you make a choice.  

here is a pair of twins in every respect.  but note the extra moss and the blocky bark on the further one, and the start of platy bark on the near one.  






now look at the slower leaf out on the blocky tree.  i bet the platy one is younger even though its equal to or a touch larger at the butt and considerably bigger diameter in the toplogs.  the choice is clear in my mind, that if one needs to go, it should be the blocky one. 






anyways i hope these kick start some thought among forest owners.  if you enjoy growing a garden a forest is even better.  its the garden that will stand as a testament to your green thumb long after you are in the ground fertilizing it.  hopefully others can share similar info and prevent some tree lover from having cutters remorse like i have given myself so many times before.  



Psalm 37:16

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2021, 02:24:39 PM »
I love the topic - But just a layman here also (Although I'm related to a couple experts - does that count?). Deciding what to cut involves perhaps as many factors as members that will chime in here. Owners objectives will dictate much of what to cut and what to leave. One seeking primarily financial return will cull different trees than one seeking wildlife habitat or species diversity.

Even or uneven aged management. What will happen when a canopy is opened? (simply allow adjacent trees to grow better or induce unwanted seedlings to start). Too much light will encourage branches - even epicormic ones in otherwise good clear hardwood trunks. Soil type - will selective cutting induce wind-throw or uprooted mature trees? Most species starving for light will grow taller faster and more straight than one in the open. Etc, Etc.

I think it's always safe to take diseased or mal-formed trees. Beyond that I'd seek professional advice before cutting too much.

Looking forward to the responses.
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2021, 07:45:42 PM »
The White Oak bulge on the base of your White Oak has not been damaged. That's called "muscle" in the trade and is somewhat commonly found in TN. More often than not it will be on slow growing trees with the fine textured bark. The White Oaks with the large scaly bark type like Hickory seldom have it. Veneer buyers prefer not to see it but will still buy "muscle" logs.


Online mike_belben

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2021, 10:14:55 PM »
Thanks for that stavebuyer.  Ive had a bunch of them and never heard of that.  Never tried to sell one either. 
Psalm 37:16

Offline Southside

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2021, 11:28:45 PM »
Stavebuyer - can you elaborate more on that?  Why TN?  What is going on with the tree? How does it impact the lumber?  Thank you.  
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2021, 05:33:15 AM »
Stavebuyer - can you elaborate more on that?  Why TN?  What is going on with the tree? How does it impact the lumber?  Thank you.  
I wish I could elaborate but honestly I don't know the answer as to what causes it. Its not all that uncommon in TN or KY and often will occur in groups. It kind of resembles a burl but always circles the entire tree and is usually 2'-4' from the base of the tree. Some can become quite pronounced and others just a slight swell.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2021, 05:44:09 AM »
It's good to "work" in the forest. 
I cut firs down. My soil is not good for growing fir trees. I might just as well cut every one I find. Even 4 inches across will have bad heart rot.
But saying that, we had about 2-3 acres that had some very nice fir on it.  I own about 150 acres of wood land. About 18 inches across and not much heart rot and most had none. This was all on a side hill that was fed by springs.
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Online mike_belben

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Re: Selecting Culls
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2021, 06:53:56 AM »
Yes that matches my experience on those bulges too. One area at the back property line had a handful of them and upon disection of one, it was just normal wood inside.  I think theres on more big bulge left i will get some pics of. 


Another phenomenon ive experienced is clump sprouts turning back into one single tree thats actually very dangerously compromised.  I will get some pics of that up later.  



Ray- my place is that way about cherry.  It seeds and sprout well in the forested sections but i cant get one to get above 20ft before it folds over under its own top.   It will do well if seeded from the beginning in wide open and pruned like an orchard tree. I just cull them in the woods now and something else come up.  

Sassafras also only has a juvenile presence in my woods.
Psalm 37:16


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