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Author Topic: How to thin balsam fir thickets  (Read 479 times)

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Offline PoginyHill

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How to thin balsam fir thickets
« on: April 15, 2020, 10:08:42 AM »
About 8 years ago I had patch clear-cuts done on my even-aged softwood stand (30 acres). It was worked well - maybe too well in some cases. I have several areas with a carpet of mostly fir (some red spruce). How should I thin these? And what spacing should I shoot for? Currently most stems are within 6" of each other. A couple areas developed naturally before the cut and are probably 20+ years old (see pics). Short of clipping them on my knees, what techniques exist to efficiently thin these? Not sure I have enough to warrant buying a brush-cutter or clearing saw.


 

 

 

  
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Offline barbender

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2020, 03:02:15 PM »
I think you'll have to let them come up more before you do anything with them, or you'll just have another carpet where you open it up. That's just my guess. We don't really manage balsam up here, typically it's in the understory of other forest types so it just kinda "happens"😊
Too many irons in the fire

Offline barbender

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2020, 03:02:58 PM »
I would also consider the wildlife habitat value of those thickets if just left alone.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Tarm

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2020, 10:11:37 PM »
Well I know from personal experience that bending over to cut small trees with a chainsaw gets real old real fast. If you are not willing to splurge on a clearing saw buy a long handled brush nipper. Start by releasing the red spruce first. Just reach down and nip off the competing balsam fir around the red spruce. After you got that done you can select some of the bigger fir to release. Consider it a hobby instead of a job. It is amazing what a few hours of work a year can do for a woods.

Offline g_man

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 07:38:26 PM »
Your fir regen looks good. I'm not a forester just a curious Vermonter. Pretty often patch cuts like that are made in a mature fir stands to produce some pre regen before the rest of the stand is harvested. Was that the plan when you did the patch cuts? Do you have brown cubical  fungus root/stump rot on your site ? I do, it is very common here, and if I don't harvest fir before it is 50 or 60 years old they start blowing over and are full of rot. Just wondering what your plans are for the residual stand you have ?

This is what I mean with the stump rot. 




Offline celliott

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2020, 08:10:02 PM »
Could hire the brush saw work done. Im looking to do more work with mine, Id be willing to give it a whirl. Could check it out and see if it would be worth purchasing one.
My last few log jobs have been spruce/fir. Where I am now, the property was 1/2 harvested about 20 years ago, and the spruce where it was thinned is noticeably better quality than where it was not released (butt rot) the fir is hit and miss everywhere though. 

Where in Northern VT? Im in Danville.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2020, 08:11:11 PM »
I never feel bad when I damage a small fir tree. Mine look like g_man. I have a OWB. Those fir keep me warm in the winter. My Father and me did cut a lot of fir on this land. Now I cut it and let something else grow. Eastern white pine grows wicked here.  ;D I really get and got some regen going on with white pine.
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Offline Tarm

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2020, 08:50:45 PM »
You could try for a NRCS cost share. Depending on how many acres you have or want to do the cost share may pay for the clearing saw and you could provide the labor.

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2020, 07:45:47 AM »
Thanks for the insight, all. The patch cuts were prescribed by my forester to reduce blowdowns after the cuts with my shallow, wet soil and to transform the stand from even age to uneven age. Stand is probably 60-70 yrs old - old pasture. Blowdowns were manageable until our 2019 Halloween storm. I think the blowdowns counted as the 10 year follow-up cut! I'm in Newport Center. The remaining fir is reasonably good. Some do have butt rot (what wasn't uprooted during the storm was rotted stems that busted off 4-8 ft up).But most of the uprooted stuff was sound or the rot cleared up after a 2-3 ft trim. As was mentioned, I think I'll simply plug away at the thickets with clipper, clumpers, or my MS 170 on my knees. If that gets too old, I may take you up on your offer, celliott.
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Offline PoginyHill

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Re: How to thin balsam fir thickets
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2020, 08:25:28 AM »
Your fir regen looks good. I'm not a forester just a curious Vermonter. Pretty often patch cuts like that are made in a mature fir stands to produce some pre regen before the rest of the stand is harvested. Was that the plan when you did the patch cuts? Do you have brown cubical  fungus root/stump rot on your site ? I do, it is very common here, and if I don't harvest fir before it is 50 or 60 years old they start blowing over and are full of rot. Just wondering what your plans are for the residual stand you have ?

This is what I mean with the stump rot.


(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

Neglected to answer your question, g_man, on plans for the remaining stand. Good question. My management plan says to evaluate additional treatment every 10 years or so. At the rate I'm seeing blowdowns, it may take care of itself. I think in the next 10-20 years all the currently "mature" fir will be gone, replaced by younger fir and the residual pine, spruce, and cedar that was left for retention.
Kubota M7060, Cat E70B, Case 310, 750 Grizzly ATV, Wallenstein FX110, 84" Landpride rotary hog, Classic Edge 750, Stihl 170, 261, 391


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