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Spruce Pirate

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Posts posted by Spruce Pirate


  1. I think a good assessor will decide whether someone is competent pretty quickly.  How a person looks, acts, what condition their kit is in, what kit they've got all help to inform an assessor whether or not the candidate knows what they're doing or not.  That is if the assessor themselves knows what they're about.  The blethering and having a cup of tea should then confirm experiencea and underlying knowledge.  After that a good assessor should know if they need to spend 45 minutes cutting a couple of trees to confirm what they think or whether they want to do lots of trees to make sure someone is actually up to scratch.  So either you have a full day cutting getting refreshed or you only do a wee bit followed by a lot of gossip, reminiscing and drinking tea.  This last part should still count as refresher as it is more than likely vocational and will cover all sorts of different scenarios and how they were / should have been dealt with.  Never underestimate the importance of a good blether! :lol:

    • Like 2

  2.  

    2 minutes ago, Big J said:

     

     

    I'd like to get your opinions on a thinning approach I'd like to undertake on our next job. 


    We've about 10 acres of spruce to thin. It's had racks in 4 years ago, and the trees adjacent to the racks are noticeably much larger than the internal trees. 1 in 7 so far. 

     

    I'd suggested some further thinning as not much was taken out of the matrix at all. In in the interests of keeping it fairly simple, and in order to maximise the growth of the remaining crop, I was proposing a sort of hit and miss line thin between the racks. So, presently, there are 6 lines between each rack. Starting with line 3, you remove one tree. You then take the next tree from line 4, and then back to line 3, then back to 4 and so on. My theory is that having seen the hugely increased growth in the lines adjacent to the rack, conventional rack thinning results in improved growth and form in only two lines (those adjacent to the rack) whereas this hit and miss method results in additional space for all trees in all racks between the main racks (with extra space in lines 2, 3, 4 and 5, with additional space already present in lines 1 and 6 from the previous rack thinning). 

     

    My thoughts regarding the advantages are as follows:

     

    • It's very simple for the cutters to grasp. No need for them to selectively thin, as they'll have a rigid structure to work to
    • It creates a slightly more organic feel to the thinning than putting in another rack, as the hit and miss approach means you won't see a straight rack
    • It creates extra space and light for every tree between the existing racks
    • It suits my winch processor setup as it's super easy for me to do but you be a complete PITA for a harvester.

     

    My justification for going in relatively soon after the last thinning is that it's a sitka stand of not especially good form or YC. The ground is generally too dry and the trees at a little over 20 years old are only averaging 40-45ft, and I reckon are around 0.17-0.2 cube per tree. In performing a 15% thin, I think we can increase the growth rate of what remains, and we're offering £6/t for it standing, which I don't think is too bad for a low impact approach on a sensitive site.

     

    My hope is that if this method proves successful on this site, it could be used on other first thinnings. I'd then propose putting racks in at 1 in 14 intervals, with hit and miss thinning inbetween. Fewer racks is something I can get away with wiht the winch processor and it leaves a less mechanised finish for the landowner. 

     

    If you disagree with the approach, please say. I have a lot of time in machines to think about these things and I'm happy to be told when something is a shit idea!

     

    It's the last day of my easter "holiday" and I need to be up early tomorrow so I'll re-read your post tomorrow when my brain is working properly.  All I can remember right now is that the yield models show as little as 3 years between thinnings for sitka so you're not totally out with going in so soon.

    • Like 1

  3. Trouble is.......

     

    What is classed as a thinning machine?  In Conor's example an Ergo isn't exactly a small machine, certainly not in first thinnings.  Put almost any off the shelf machine from any of the big manuracturers into first thinnings and it'll look HUGE.  What the manufacturers class as thinnings machines are, in my opinion, really more suited to later thinnings.  In order to do first thinnings properly you're looking as specialist small scale machinery (such as yours J) or going back to hand cutting - or a combination of both.  Problem then is a lack of funds to cover the costs.  Problem if you put machines that are too big in is you end up skinning trees and damaging the ground , you end up with butt rot and potentially unstable crops.  The result can be seen all over the place either non-thin regime or a delayed thin, more instability followed by premature clearfell.

     

    There's still quite a bit of figuring out to be done in the thinning conundrum, small scale equipment seems to be getting better, but I thing there's still a bit to do to persuade people (owners / investors) that it's worthwhile doing properly.

     

     

    I should add that I'm talking really about upland spruce (sitka) forests, those who are luckier to be lower down with better soils and more diverse crops may be able to make thinnings work easier.

    • Like 5

  4. 8 minutes ago, Conor Wright said:

    Really liking the low impact, high quality approach you're taking. Certainly beats this.. two hundred tonnes extracted from mixed sitka, Norway and larch stand down the lane from my place, first thin, loads of damage to surrounding trees and ground.

    Have you ever taken the time to work out your production rate as regards litres of fuel per tonne roadside? Interested to see how it may compare to larger scale enterprises..

    20181227_121725.jpeg

     

    What machines were used there?


  5. 9 minutes ago, Paul Cleaver said:

    thanks for the above SP - what is your view on the following link from 1 month ago which shows concern regarding the Ancient Scots pines in Scotland   https://inews.co.uk/news/scotland/scotlands-ancient-pine-forests-at-risk-disease-climate-warms/

    I don't think that's really any new news as far as the industry is concerned.  Been found more on native pine largely due to looking for it more rather than any big jump in spread as far as I can see.  It is now so endemic in plantation stuff that its no longer surveyed for by the FC in plantations.

     

    The native pinewoods it could have an effect on, especially in tight canopys and thicket stages.  Stuff we looked at in Tentsmuir Forest a few years ago that was really badly infected and very sparse in needle coverage has recovered very well thanks to intensive thinning to let the air flow through.  Native pinewoods with non-intervention managment policies might suffer quite badly if there are areas of dense canopy.  On the other hand, as I understand it, it's very rarely fatal to trees so they might be able to withstand it.

    • Like 1

  6.  

    4 minutes ago, Paul Cleaver said:

    looks like a spruce, its either Norway spruce or sitka (sitka have longer needles than Norway) - it could be Dothistroma  needle blight. I know Norway spruce can be affected I don't know about sitka .

    There is concern in Scotland about this disease which can attack scots pine.

    Current seasonal trends of warmer springs and wetter summers (in Scotland) have optimised the conditions for the disease :(

     

    Dothistroma has been found on spruces, but not to any significant degree as far as I'm aware.  The pictures looks more like Elatobium (spruce aphid) to me, but I'm not totally sure.  Could also be wind blast if there's been a particularly cold east wind?

     

     

    8 minutes ago, openspaceman said:

    They're not pine, look like spruce to me and as it happened over winter my guess is spruce aphid.

    Just scrolled up to look at pictures again and saw your post, so yes, I'd agree with that.

    • Like 1
    • Thanks 1

  7. Depends on where you are.

     

    FCS are now Scottish Forestry or Forestry & Land Scotland, not sure exactly what they're calling themselves, but they're still basically the same organisation.  Almost all cutting work with FCS is now on a multi-supplier framework agreement so it depends on who you're working for as to what you'll get as well as what level of skill and experience you bring to it.  Our rates with them are pretty healthy, although there's still room for improvement in some areas.

     

    Unfortunately the days of being able to rock up to the forest office and pick up a bit of cutting work locally are now long gone so if you're looking for cutting work with the Forestry, certainly in Scotland, you'll need to find out which contractors are on their agreements and get in touch with them.

    • Like 2

  8. I've done quite a few of these over the years for different folks.  Have used oak, lime, sitka, larch and possible ash, but can't remember for sure.  I tend to cut them a few days to a week before they're needed as it lets the fresh smell disipate a wee bit, but keeps them from cracking too quickly.  Most folk only want them for single use anyway so if the split in the long run its not a big deal.  The spruce ones were for the community council for some event and are stored in our shed, they've stood up surprisingly well with very few split after over a year, they're only about 6" diameter so that might make a difference.  Have done some up to about 2' diameter for cake stands, not sure how well they stood the test of time.


  9. On ‎25‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 09:54, Gary Prentice said:

    I find that surprising as I'd expect self seeders to be more likely to have retain tap roots than transplanted trees.

    It's something that I've often heard quoted Gary, but I've never quite understood as clearly trees have been growing quite happily by themselves for a very, very long time.  I think the theory is that by notch planting the roots are put into the ground deeper to start off with but self seeders tend to spread out on the surface more.  It is fair to say that this is in the context of conifers rather than broadleaf's.  It also assumes that the trees are planted right! :lol:

    • Thanks 1

  10. A few thoughts.....

     

    Nat regen is generally unreliable for tree crops as seed fall, conditions, germination rates and spacing are all unpredictable.  None of these are insurmountable problems, especially if you are wanting to establish an amenity woodland rather than a commercial crop.

     

    Bad Points:

    • Timescale can be highly variable, you may get a good crop quickly, but it might take a prolonged period of time.  This can be problematic if grants are being claimed or if the landowner wants to see results.
    • Spacing again can be highly variable, you may have areas of a site with 10K+ stems per ha and others at sub 1K / ha meaning you spend a lot on either enrichment planting or cleaning.
    • Species can be unpredictable, almost bound to get birch, other species can be less reliable.
    • Shallow rooting, generally considered that self seeders do not root as well as planted trees (although quite how natural forests have managed to survive quite so well if this is the case has always puzzled me).
    • A lot of the savings are simply not there - if you're talking about doing ground prep to encourage nat regen then you might as well plant (cost not that much more for a more guaranteed result); if you're talking about having to stake and tube any planted trees then the nat regen is also going to need some form of protection.

    Good Points:

    • Saves you buying and planting trees.
    • Minimal ground prep.
    • Spacing and size class more variable over site (if this is what you want).
    • Trees grow from local seed (phenotype??) better environmentally.
    • You can always go back and do enrichment planting later if you have/want to.

     

    Not sure of soil conditions on your site, in my experience birch will regenerate almost anywhere from dry to wet, cherry a little bit more unpredictable.  Bramble is a problem for all large mamals moving through, this is a nightmare for those of us who have to work in these places, but it will also keep the nibblers largely at bay.  Bramble can suppress trees and cause poor form as a result, again this needn't be a problem if it isn't going to be a crop.

     

    If it's only 4.5 acres that's roughly 2 ha so you're not really looking at that much planting, albeit if you can save yourself some planting that's probably a good thing.  What's happening in the 4.5 acres being thinned, are you looking for regen under the remaining crop?  If so would it be worth fencing the whole thing as opposed to using tubes on the clearfell?

     

    I've never heard of anyone broadcasting seed as a form of establishement, but this doesn't mean it doesn't happen.  I have the feeling that you'd end up paying a seed collector or nursery a lot of money for seed to get a result which isn't guaranteed and would be slightly pointless if you've got seed trees on site which would give the same result.

     

    • Like 1

  11. On ‎11‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 22:06, jmac said:

    That looks a handy wee tool, what is it? What size of winch is on it?

    It's a mini-skidder.   Czeck machine, imported by RIKO.  Winch rated to pull a ton, can pull a wee bit more, but not much (1.2 is the record so far.  Pretty mobile, easily transported, good for small scale stuff.


  12. Ah, the dulcet tones of a rock breaker!  My favourite time working on roadlines is when they stop pecking and go back to stripping.

     

    Scenery and tree size here not quite as impressive as yours but the soundtrack is similar.

     

    DSC_0190 a.jpg

    DSC_0196 b.jpg


  13. I had a lot of bother with the ear defender popping out when I first got the Husky Technical helmet, then one day it just popped back in perfectly and been fine ever since.  Not sure what I did differently, it looked alright, but was forever popping out.  Must be something subtle I'd missed.


  14. Wow!  This thread grew legs since I last looked at it.

     

    Can only find one picture of serious blow on the computer, taken by the harvester driver.  I'm the little orange blob in the middle of it.  Serious blow is best described as "challenging" and it seems a lot of people are worried this is what you're getting yourself into. 

    1383314553_GaradbhanBlow.thumb.jpg.79b336ef95639381e99c28adbeb9c4a2.jpg

     

    By the sounds of it you're not actually going to be dealing with any serious windblow events - the landowner will do that, so you're really looking at single and a few trees down at a time which should be bread and butter to your cutters if they are experienced enough (no need to post a cv, I'll believe you have access to proper cutters).

     

    FISA guides, as I think I said before, are a pretty good starting point for generic stuff, and available for free from the FISA website.  Other than that, as said before, shut the trail first, keep it shut until the hazard is removed.  No lone working.  Cutters to be fully PPE'd up.  Saws and equipment to be in good working order.  Emergency access agreed - location, type of access (4*4? Mountain Rescue? Helicopter), nearest hospital etc.  Assess tension in stems before and during cuts.  Restrain root plates with winch if required.  Re-evaluate after each cut.  Banksman/woman may be required.  All these in no particular order.

    • Like 3
    • Thanks 1

  15. Why aren't your cutters doing this for you?

     

    Sit down with them and the relevant FISA guide and you should be able to knock something up as a generic.  Leave plenty of space for writing up the job specific details as each tree could be very very different depending size, species, location etc.

    • Like 2

  16. 31 minutes ago, Big J said:

    Good to hear your thoughts on this. 

     

    My feeling is that due to the fairly steep terrain, it needs to be clean and straight enough for mechanical harvesting. We did discuss eucalyptus as the growth rates are extraordinary, but I'm unsure whether it would grow with sufficient good form. Additionally, the best that it will ever be is firewood and after 40 years, I'd hope that in a softwood plantation to have a significant proportion of millable timber, with the additional revenue that that brings.

     

    My best advice to the landowners was to seek the advice of a professional forestry consultant as I don't know very much about planting.

     

     

    I've seen some extremely clean harvestable Nothofagus round here, round about 100' after just over 30 years, not sure about millable timber from it though.  I'd guess it's a bit too fast to be strong?  From memory it was quite a good free draining soil too so maybe not ideal for you.

     

    Don't discount Norway, the edgers might be pappy but it can produce some good timber too on the inside.  Stress grading similar to spruce (proper spruce that is - Sitka) so the sawmills like it.

     

    Getting a proper consultant who knows the area is always going to be best as they'll know the local Woodland Officers and also what grants may be available.

     

    As far as knowing about planting, it's pretty easy - green bit up, brown bit down.  Can't go wrong!

    • Like 1
    • Haha 1

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