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sandspider

Best time of year to coppice / pollard?

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Hi all

 

As above - I've got a few species of tree (alder, sweet chestnut, willow, eucalyptus) that I'd like to coppice / pollard at some point. Looking at the best time of year to do this, there seem to be two schools of thought. 1) Winter / early spring while the sap is down so there's not much bleeding or infection of the cuts, and not much stored energy wasted. Or 2) mid summer, so the tree is growing it's fastest and wound compartmentalisation is quick. (Avoiding nesting birds).

I'm leaning towards the former! Option 2 seems to be a newer idea, traditionally it was a winter occupation.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Cheers.

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41 minutes ago, sandspider said:

traditionally it was a winter occupation.

Some of the reason for this was the availability of labour, most rural workers were needed for other farm work in the summer.

 

Another was to do with the durability of the produce, winter felled wood is less likely to be eaten by microbes for a couple of reasons. Try bending a bit of birch or willow whippy material that has been cut mid summer and left for three weeks.

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I have little spare time at any time of year, so makes no odds to me!! And the wood will mainly be for firewood (hopefully a few sweet chestnut and robinia fence posts), so don't mind if the cut wood dries quickly. As long as the coppice stool survives...

 

There may also be some poplar to coppice in future, and I think the wood is hygroscopic, so maybe that's better cut in summer to dry out quickly.

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1 hour ago, Rough Hewn said:

Less moisture content in winter. emoji106.png

Yes this is what I thought but have never tested it.

 

The thing is whatever the overall moisture content the sap solution within the cell membrane is much more concentrated. There will be little sugar in the vessels until spring. I really ought to read up on this.

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Yes this is what I thought but have never tested it.
 
The thing is whatever the overall moisture content the sap solution within the cell membrane is much more concentrated. There will be little sugar in the vessels until spring. I really ought to read up on this.

The differences between winter and summer cut wood are many.
For firewood it's less weight to move and less water to extract.
For milling as above and the boards are more stable.
Bark will strip easier from summer cut than winter cut for most species.
Recently discovered large mature beech trees will split more readily when summer cut, as well as being incredibly heavy.
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I have an alder tree that I coppice/reduce every few years and I always do it in the winter. I find it easier when there are no leaves and it has thrived.

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Winter - pros - less to clear up (no leaves), less damaging to wildlife, lower moisture content in wood so lighter to handle, less moisture loss through big wounds (in my experience the success rate of pollarding/coppicing is better when winter cut as  summer cuts  can add extra stress through heat and drought stress), new growth has more time to harden up for the follwing winter, perfect working conditions i.e - frosty, cool sunny days ideal for chainsawing in.

Cons - Tree can't start to compartmentalise in dormant season so pathogen attack is greater, more fungal sopres around in winter so more chance of pathogen attack, access to woods can be be harder and possibly more ride damage in winter in boggy ground, extraction may have til wait to summer months until ride conditions improve.

 

Summer - opposite to above.

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