The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => Ask The Forester => Topic started by: Woodhog on June 03, 2006, 10:26:08 AM

Title: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Woodhog on June 03, 2006, 10:26:08 AM
I would like to know the proper spacing for thinning Eastern White pine.

The trees are in a 5 acre piece and havent been touched since seedlings, some are about 50 years old.

I assume I should use normal selection criteria for the trees to be left however I am not sure of the spacing requirements.

The piece is sloping towards a river and there is evidence of some soil erosion with no one in there working at the piece. Do you think that this will get worse or will the woody debris help prevent further erosion of the slopes.

Also regarding pruning for a good butt log in White Pine.. how old can the tree be to respond to the pruning of say, the first 16 feet of the tree?? how close to the trunk should you cut off the branches??

Considering the erosion problem maybe this piece would best be left for nature to do the thinning ?

The owner doesnt seem really interested in the commercial value of the stand at this time...
Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Gary_C on June 03, 2006, 11:29:30 AM
That is a good question and I am interested in what the experts have to say. One of the first questions I had was what is your row and tree spacing within the rows?

I did a small job last summer in Norway Pine that was planted in contour strips along ridges to stop erosion. In some places there were only about 8 rows. The trees were planted in 6 foot rows with 5 ft spacings. I was told to leave no trees closer than 10 ft after thinning. My understanding is they do not plant that close anymore. I believe the trees were planted about 40 years ago and most were under 8 inches dia and less than 3 sticks (100 inches)  tall.

This is what it looked like before


This is how it looked after


Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Woodhog on June 03, 2006, 11:48:19 AM
Thanks Gary...

The piece referred to is not a plantation, it is just naturally regenerated so no rhyme or reason to the
pattern of growth..

 Here there are almost no plantations plantings, they just cut a piece over and let it seed in with whatever comes along...this piece came up in mostly pine with very small amounts of   Northeastern hardwood mixed in.
Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Gary_C on June 03, 2006, 12:05:28 PM
The other thing I forgot to add was I was told the objective was to open up the stand so the sunlight could get in as the sunlight is what promotes the growth. The before picture was brightened up with fill flash or you could not see anything.

However as you can see, the trees have not self pruned the lower branches very well in spite of the close spacing.
Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Ron Scott on June 03, 2006, 04:27:46 PM
Though the stand is only 5 acres, it sounds like a stand that should have the local Conservation District Forester look at for some professional advice.

Some more information would be helpful concerning the stand condition. What is the average diameter (at breast height) and height of the white pine trees? Can equipment work safely on the hillside and is their good access with the river below? Also, do you know what the soil type is for better determination of the erosion factor?

As you mentioned, it might be an ecosystem and landscape that is best to stay off of.

If the stand is operable, selective thinning to a 70-90 square feet basal area, selecting the "worst first" for remova should work. After thiining, select 30-50 crop trees for prunning of the first 16-19 feet. Follow recommended pruning practices if prunning appears to be economical.

Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Phorester on June 04, 2006, 12:08:14 AM

WOODHOG, I don't know where your 5 acres of white pine is located, but we've done a lot of research on white pine in Virginia.  And everything we find out continually points out that white pine needs a lot of growing room as it gets older.  The dominant trees in a 50 year old stand of eastern white pine should be on about a  40 x 40 foot spacing, which is about 27 trees per acre.  I was amazed when this conclusion was put forth by our research foresters.

As far as pruning, the younger tree the better as with any tree.  Both for the increased vigor in younger trees, but mainly because of the limb size.  Age of the tree is not so much a factor as limb size. You have to drop back to the standard pruning rule to prune unwanted branches before they reach 2" diameter.  Wounds that large and larger just take so long to heal that you're likely to get rot and stain in them, they make big knots in the boards when sawn out, and some never completely heal before the tree is finally harvested.  So if you've got a lot of big lower limbs on these 50 year old trees, you might not have any good choices to make.   Remember  you need to cut outside the branch collar of the limb, which contains the chemicals for healing.  On big limbs it might be a couple inches or more out from the trunk.

I think you're right with the woody debris helping to slow erosion.  Also, by thinning you will increase the sunlight getting to the ground which will of course stimulate the growth of more understory, grasses and weeds, further reducing erosion.
Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Ron Scott on June 04, 2006, 12:00:12 PM
Depending upon where you are located and the exposure of your hill side stand, some concern needs to be giving to snowloads and windthrow before thinning too heavily during the first thinning. Mother Nature may take over with immediate snow damage and windthrow.

The following may be of help in your management decision.

Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: Woodhog on June 05, 2006, 07:46:08 AM
The piece referred to  is located in Nova Scotia.

Title: Re: Eastern White Pine Thinning etc..
Post by: SwampDonkey on July 19, 2006, 04:32:10 PM
Here's an old field of white pine about the same age.


They are either weeviled or suffer from blister rust. We call them cabbage pine with multiple leaders. When we space young stands we leave them thick (3500 st/ha), but young pure stands are rare in my area. I would say leave them as tight as possible 12 -15 foot spacing (50 yrs) and prune to control blister rust. Ideally an aspen overstory would help deter the weevil somewhat and not produce too much shade. I always pull up blister rust infected tree seedlings. I don't seem to be bothered by weevil, but the moose won't leave them alone.  ::)