Sunday, 6 December 2015

2 Year Noble Fir Transplants

We have some 2 year old transplants, decided to plant some in trays and some some in 1.5 litre pots for growing on, the pot ones will eventually be in larger pots, the tray one will be planted in the field autumn 2016

2 year old plug cell grown Noble fir

Trays of 2 year Noble fir growing on until autumn 2016

1.5L pots Noble fir these will eventually be re-potted into 5L pots to make pot grown trees

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Noble Fir From 2011

In 2011 when i started growing Christmas trees I planted 300 bare root Noble fir, I have about 30 of these left, why did they die?, there could be a number of reasons,
I planted them in the Winter/Spring as normal for bare root, the ground was not frozen or too wet,
We had a very wet late spring early summer though and my field flooded, I suspect the field just got to wet for them as Noble don't like to much wet,
Or maybe bare root just don't do as well as plug cell grown, but saying that I planted 180 bare root Nordmann in 2013, for a trial, and i have only lost  couple of those ones,
In 2012 I planted 400 Nordmann and 150 Noble and for some reason we got them mixed up and i now have a block of Nordmann and Noble mixed up and the Noble are doing surprisingly well i don't think i have lost any of these ones yet

In the autumn of the same year 2011, I planted 300 Nordmann plug cell grown to date my losses on those is about 25 plants, we have now manged to get losses down to about 5% for previous years planting, still not brilliant but it is better, Roughly 50 plants per 1000,  

Maybe the field drainage was not good enough the first year, and the roots just got water logged, we have since put drainage ditches in and it is a lot better

Picture of one of the Noble firs i have left, they are about waist height and the right size to start shearing

September News Letter

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Small Weed Licker

Recently i made a small weed licker that fits behind a machine and is narrow enough to fit in between the rows of trees, it is only 3' wide with a gravity fed water tank,, the roller is a 6" diameter plastic pipe which rolls on top of the grass and rotates freely, the covering is just an old piece of carpeting, the wheels on the sides are what keeps it up of the ground.

I may change it to a pump system yet and also change the white PVC pipe for copper, the pipe has a row of small holes in it, water just drips out constantly onto the roller i can regulate the flow by the stop lever on it.

My thinking is to try to suppress the grass/weed growth in between the rows of trees, even if i just do it once a year in the rows i can easily get down i am hoping this will go further to help control weeds,

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Transplants Planting August 2015

That time of year again, planting of transplants, I weed killed the area to be planted last month, and it is relatively weed free, I don't dig the ground prior to planting anymore as this only brings up new weed seeds from lower down, and it seems to cause more weed growth come the spring than if I don't dig it

Using the planting tool I made, I simply put a hole in the ground to drop the plant into and firmed in, the plants are plug cell grown which makes them easy to plant, there is a section on my website on planting How to Plant Transplants this year I have planted 5' between the rows and 4' between the plants the plants are still planted alternately,

P     P      P       P       P       P

P      P      P      P       P

P      P      P      P       P       P

My aim is to plant 500 Nordmann fir this autumn then another 500 in the spring, I wont weed kill around these one again until next autumn, I like to give them a good year to establish themselves first, I will pull any large weeds up if need be, they will be fed with agroblen in the spring, and the usual cutting of grass between the rows.

We have also started on seedling planting into plug trays these are 1½ years old and will be grown on till they are 3 years old and will be big enough for planting out 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Rust Problems on Nordmann Fir

Whilst on one of my general walking checks I noticed that there is a bit of needle rust on some trees, i did some research for treatments and came back with Amistar, I also emailed Colin Palmer of Rural Services and he suggested using a fungicide called Bellis or Signum as Amistar can cause some scorching, Two applications are advised first one at bud swelling and second one at mid flush,

Bellis Fungicide Teagasc Field Use Instructions

Here is some information from Colin's website on rust Disease Control in Firs grown as Christmas Trees in the UK

There is available on Colin's website an annual programme for Weed, Pest & Disease in Christmas Trees

Colin also suggested controlling Willow Herb with fluroxypyr, Willow Herb can be the alternate host of this disease. Eliminate this weed within at least 500m of the crop. I do have this weed in my field in places. It is a nice colourful native wild flower, but if it harbors rust it needs to be controlled, one of my tasks this year will be to control and try to eliminate Willow Herb as much as possible

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ground Cover Weeds As Weed Control

Slowly but surely I am getting less tall weeds around my Christmas trees. My aim is that tall weeds that compete with Christmas trees are being controlled by managing low growing ground cover weeds.

Excerpt from Christmas Tree Production
What is a ground cover? In the landscape, people plant ground covers in shady places under trees. But in Christmas tree fields, growers manage the weeds around trees to create a biodiverse ground cover. These include low growing clovers, strawberries, violets, buttercups, and many other woodland perennials making a green carpet.

Ground covers in Christmas tree fields have many benefits including:
  • Reducing erosion so the tree farm is sustainable year after year and streams stay clean.
  • Reducing soil temperatures so tree roots take up soil nutrients better.
  • Providing habitat for insect predators so fewer pesticides are used and there is less pest damage.
  • Providing a habitat for wildlife.
  • Reducing problems with difficult to control weeds since there is no bare ground for weed seeds to germinate.
These fields aren’t just let go. It takes a shrewd manager to keep the right kind of ground covers thriving while keeping problem weeds under control. With these current production practices, mowers and weedeaters which can damage trees are seldom used.

Ground covers make sense. And they help make a good tree!

How have I managed to achieve this, I still spray roundup twice a year, November and February time but i only use 2% dilution rate, at this rate it suppresses the weeds, and i mow maybe once a month between the rows these 2 combined tasks encourage the lower down ground cover weeds such as clover, buttercups and keep the taller ones at bay and encourages beneficial insects such as ladybirds, the grass rows in-between the trees is only cut down to about 4 - 5 inches using a powered scythe mower, this is enough to keep it from growing too tall and still encourage ground cover weeds.

I am considering using a pre-emergence herbicide such as kerb flo in February, this will be mixed in with the Roundup to be applied in one go, It should help to prevent weeds from germinating, kerb granules are also available

Previous years i have tried controlling weeds around the young trees with black plastic, this is fine to start with but i found it made feeding of plants difficult, it stopped moisture getting down directly to the roots, i have even gone around hand weeding the taller weeds around the trees, i think the method i have now is about the easiest for controlling tall weeds

I am not too concerned about the boundary's of the fields i tend to leave a boundary strip to overgrow this again encourages beneficial insect and wildlife

Couple of useful resources i have come across
 Weed, Pest, Disease in Christmas Trees

weedkiller Quick Reference Chart For Tree & Ornamental Weed Killers here

Monday, 23 March 2015

Planting Christmas Trees

I have been playing with a couple of different planting methods,

1, Post hole borer, Simply makes a hole in the ground and plant in the hole, nice and quick but after a while the machine gets a bit heavy so i made a trolley for it, the post hole borer sits in the cradle push down which forces borer into the ground, the spring is under tension which when you let go raises the borer off the ground just push along to next hole space, still need to work on this alter the design a bit more, this is ideal for any plants that have been pot grown and a bigger hole is needed.

2, Long handled bulb planter, i also tried one of these, it was ok but difficult to push in the ground if you caught a stone or anything else hard under the surface, i took a core of soil out then just put the plug cell grown transplant in and firm around, not the easiest of tools on stony ground

3, A planting bar, the easiest way yet, box section made in to a wedge shape with a handle on it, height approx 40" and currently my preferred method of nice quick easy planting of transplants

Friday, 20 February 2015

Transplants Sold Out

Due to exceptional demand Noble fir and Nordmann fir sold out early this spring, We are now taking orders for 2015 autumn Nordmann and Noble fir, We are now able to offer delivery on transplants in Ireland on a next day basis (minimum order for delivered plants

We still have some of our own transplants in plug trays available Here

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

How To Plant A Plugcell Grown Transplant

When choosing the perfect trees for your location - Take into consideration the following things:
Type of soil - wet, moist, dry, sandy, sandy-loam, clay.
Sun requirements - does your site provide full sun, partial sun, shade?

Know what you want?  Now it's time to preparing the planting site - Survival rates for plugcell tree transplants are good on all sites including rough sites. However, weed control can help them off to a good start. This can be accomplished by herbicides and/or mowing and of course using weed control. 

Now that you have your location and the transplants you must care of your transplants before planting -Plugcell grown transplants give you flexibility of planting when it's convenient for you. Place the trees where they will get direct sun for part of the day. Avoid continuous hot sun. Water thoroughly as needed, generally every 1-3 days depending on weather conditions. If holding for an extended period of time (more than 3-6 weeks), elevate a few inches on blocks to keep roots from growing into the ground. The night before planting, water the seedlings well. This gives time for excess water to drain out.

Planting your Plugcell Tree Transplants - The transplants root plug should be placed 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the ground surface, and the native soil firmed over the root plug. The soil around the plug should be firmed up, but be careful not to step on the seedling! plugcell seedlings may be planted with all types of planting tools and equipment including mechanical tree planters.


10 Commandments for Tree Seedling Survival

Dr. William Carey, Auburn University Professor, outlines a ten point system to help improve forest tree seedling survival. At a meeting, sponsored by International Forest Company, Dr. Carey explains his planting techniques and insists you give seedlings "tender loving care" from the time they leave the nursery until planted in the field.

Commandment Number One -
Do not allow seedlings to dry out. - Ample moisture is the key factor in seedling survival; seedlings must never be allowed to dry out from the nursery to planting. Plant immediately in the field. Remember "if they dry, they die".

Commandment Number Two - 
Transport seedlings carefully. - Rough handling can damage root systems and predispose seedlings to stress.

Commandment Number Three - 
Avoid temperature extremes. - Fluctuations in temperature, especially excessive heat, during storage and transport can result in seedling trauma during outplanting.

Commandment Number Four. -
Plant promptly. - Once seedlings are lifted, minimize storage time, especially early in the season and avoid extended transport time.

Commandment Number Five. -
Do not trim or prune seedling roots. - Seedlings need every single tiny root to absorb moisture and nutrients from the ground. The more root surface, the better the growth.

Commandment Number Six. - 
Do not wash or shake gel from seedling roots. - Gel applied to roots at the nursery prevents drying out during transport, decreases planting shock, and improves acclimation to the planting site.

Commandment Number Seven. - 
Plant bareroot seedlings after October, preferably after December 15 and before April. - Cooler temperatures are more conducive to seedling survival and healthy growth.

Commandment Number Eight. - 
Plant seedlings deeply. - Greater exposure to the soil and its water content - even one-half inch of added depth of planting - significantly improves survival rates.

Commandment Number Nine. - 
Use mechanical planting, if possible. - Although slightly more expensive, planting mechanically yields better results and is an investment that pays off.

Commandment Number Ten - 
Do not attempt to plant seedlings that have frozen in the pack. - Freezing irreversibly damages the root system, leading to seedling death

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