Coppicing problem..

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Coppicing problem..

Postby JonnyP » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:42 am

Hi guys.. Three year old new growth on some of the willow is rotting at the base and breaking off. Did I cut the tree too low..? Or is it some other problem..? I can get more pics if needed.
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby Brian Williamson » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:06 am

Interesting. The height you should cut at does vary from species to species.

Hazel I would always try and cut as close to the ground as possible. Willow I've never cut commercially, but the basket-making willow beds that I've come across seem to be cut as very low pollards (12" ?) rather than as low coppice stools. Whether this is for ease of harvesting or because the bare stool doesn't like being in contact with the ground (or both) I don't know.

Also, worked soppice would be really close grown and there would be less ground vegetation than shown in your picture. That might possibly have an effect.

I'd definitely try recutting rather higher and see if that helps the situation. You could try pushing some cut rods into the ground to establish new plants and start them off as stub pollards to see what happens.

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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby JonnyP » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:53 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Brian. This area we cleared out three years ago, but have not done much there because we needed a digger in to cut a track (bottom of a very steep slope). The track is in now and we have planted a load of ash (home grown) on the slope. Its marshy down the bottom, hence the willow and also alder. The alder has come back with no rotting problem, its just some of the willow. The whole marshy area needs planting up better.
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby monkeeboy » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:40 pm

Perhaps it was meant to be?

Doesn't look like a very useful specimen of willow to me.
Is it something other than crack or goat willow?
The alder is much more useful, I'd prefer it rather than any willow, except perhaps a nice variety.
I spend a lot of time trying to eradicate willow from the coppice I work.
Massive goat willows create a massive crown and little else survives in their shade.
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby JonnyP » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:52 pm

monkeeboy wrote:Perhaps it was meant to be?

Doesn't look like a very useful specimen of willow to me.
Is it something other than crack or goat willow?
The alder is much more useful, I'd prefer it rather than any willow, except perhaps a nice variety.
I spend a lot of time trying to eradicate willow from the coppice I work.
Massive goat willows create a massive crown and little else survives in their shade.

I don't know what sort it is MB. All the wood here is grown for firewood (apart from the bits I use for spoons n stuff), so It only need to burn ok..
There are only about 20 to 30 willows, most of the trees are ash, which is the landlords favourite firewood. That leads me onto another question though..
We need to plant up a load more trees on a hill side, but I am a bit concerned about planting more ash with this disease now in Cornwall, so any recommendations for some good firewood trees, that coppice and grow well..? Hazel..?
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby Paul Thornton 2sheds » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:25 pm

sweet chestnut
learning more every day
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby Brian Williamson » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:54 am

Don't write off ash just yet. There's an awful lot yet to discover about the disease and it may not prove to be as big a problem as people fear.Also, it's supposed to be largely wind-bourne as spores, so it may take a long time to get down to you in cornwall. Afterall, we're currently trying to contain phytophera blowing out of the westcountry. Maybe plant less than you would have and try and collect local seedlings?

Sweet chestnut is a great wood, but as firewood it does spit. Fine in a stove, not so good on an open fire. It's also a very heavy shading tree, so not much else will grow under or with it.

Sycamore is worth considering. A much maligned species. Lovely wood. A bit light for ideal firewood, but it does season quickly. Very good on exposed sites, so should do well in windy Cornwall.

Hazel is OK. A bit small, but if you're using coppiced willow for firewood already you probably won't mind that.

Alder if you've damp spots. probably won't like an exposed hillside, though.

There's a lot of oak coppice in the westcountry, so that might be worth considering as well.

The trick will be setting out the plantings so that the various species compliment each other. You'd need to decide on what size firewood you want and hence your length of rotation. Ten year hazel won't do well with twenty year sweet chestnut for example.

You could consider some 'exotics. There are lots of trials going on at the moment to see how various species will cope with the presumed effects of global warming. Eucalypts are being widely planted (they'll probably turn into the next leylandii) but I'm not sure how well they coppice. Nothofagus? Might be worth some research. Wash my mouth out, though!!!!!!!!!! Exotics? Global plant trade? Tree diseases? Make sure you know where they come from if you do try that!

Brian.
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby JonnyP » Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:53 pm

Hi Brian.. I think you are right about ash. Its too early yet, but the disease is already in Cornwall, so I do not want to put all the eggs in one basket as we already have plenty of ash growing here.
We are quite sheltered here, especially where these trees are going. Its just above the alders n willows at the bottom of the valley. I have already planted 36 ash there, 1 to 2' heigh.
I like the idea of Sweet chestnut. We do not have any growing here, but there is plenty growing in nearby woods. We had two lorry loads of mostly sweet chestnut delivered here in 2-3 meter lengths. Its a wonderful wood to split, but I do not know how it burns yet..
I love oak and would happily plant it, but its so tough to split. It grows so gnarly here.
Sycamore is a lovely wood to work with, but like you say, its a bit light for firewood. We had to take down a beautiful old sycamore just outside the house. It rotted out in the middle, so was getting dangerous. Real shame cos we all loved it. Lots of different birds used it too, and it was covered in lichen.
I had a wander about today, while it was dry, just to see if there were any landslides, as there have been lots in this area in the past few days. All is ok here, but I noticed in the ash coppice that some of the ash regrowth is breaking off like in the above willow picture. I am sure its because I am cutting too low. So much for me to learn...
Thanks guys :D
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby markclay » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:12 am

Slighltly off topic here but do we think that genetic diversity may be a strong component in fighting this disease? Are all the trees on your hillside clones or from seed?
It strikes me likewise that if Elm were less prone to suckering it might be in better shape as a species. (possibly not as I think climate has a lot to do with that one as well)
I know nothing though, please feel free to chip away my ignorance!
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Re: Coppicing problem..

Postby JonnyP » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:30 pm

markclay wrote:Slighltly off topic here but do we think that genetic diversity may be a strong component in fighting this disease? Are all the trees on your hillside clones or from seed?
It strikes me likewise that if Elm were less prone to suckering it might be in better shape as a species. (possibly not as I think climate has a lot to do with that one as well)
I know nothing though, please feel free to chip away my ignorance!
Marko

All the ash on the hillside are from saplings that were growing in the wrong place here. I dug them out and transplanted them. Plenty of other ash from other places here though.

It looks like we are going to be planting S Chestnut. Does £85 for 50 x 2' bare root trees sound OK, plus delivery. I cannot find me a local supplier. Its all fruit trees for sale down here..
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