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Coppicing an old oak?

 
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Hej Mark!

We have a fairly old (maybe 70 years or so) oak tree- either English or European red oak- that's not doing so well: there's a *big* crack running up the trunk. I've heard/read that coppicing will rejuvenate a tree and I wondered if it would work on this one, or if the tree is too old at this point for viable root shoots to form. Oaks are kind of rare here in central Sweden (we're at 61.8° N) , so if the coppicing wouldn't work, I'll just leave it alone till it becomes dangerous, but if I could 'reboot' it and give it another 70+ years,  that'd be brilliant.

On a separate note:  is there anything I should be especially aware of in terms of coppicing in the far north? Most of the easily-found info I've been able to find is from England, so it's suited to a much warmer climate than we have here. Will extreme winter conditions require any adjustments in how we do things?

Thanks for any advice you can give. :-)
 
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Your old tree won't cope with coppicing. The process needs to be started much younger. That said, oaks are very resilient and can survive limbs dying, cracks etc...  It probably has another 100 years or more.
 
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I agree with Michael. It's definitely a gamble to try coppicing such an old (and undoubtedly beautiful) tree - it might survive and throw up new growth but it could also kill it, which would be a real shame.

Oaks die back naturally during times of stress or drought. They can go through several "bald" cycles where the crown of the tree dies back from the top down. When times are better, the trees often regenerate.

They also often lose limbs, develop hollows or even fall over and continue to grow.

If you're desperate to try some oak coppice, try gathering some of the acorns and covering them with leaf litter for the winter. Make sure you store them somewhere rodent-free as they will mysteriously vanish, otherwise! You can then plant them in early spring, once the acorns have sprouted. It's been a great year for acorns here in the UK so I'd bet it has in Sweden too. Cut back the main stem after a couple of years of growth and you'll have established a new coppice stool!
 
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Daniel Schneider wrote:Hej Mark!

We have a fairly old (maybe 70 years or so) oak tree- either English or European red oak- that's not doing so well: there's a *big* crack running up the trunk. I've heard/read that coppicing will rejuvenate a tree and I wondered if it would work on this one, or if the tree is too old at this point for viable root shoots to form. Oaks are kind of rare here in central Sweden (we're at 61.8° N) , so if the coppicing wouldn't work, I'll just leave it alone till it becomes dangerous, but if I could 'reboot' it and give it another 70+ years,  that'd be brilliant.

On a separate note:  is there anything I should be especially aware of in terms of coppicing in the far north? Most of the easily-found info I've been able to find is from England, so it's suited to a much warmer climate than we have here. Will extreme winter conditions require any adjustments in how we do things?

Thanks for any advice you can give. :-)




Hi Daniel
I'd agree with Michael and Luke that it sounds pretty unlikely that your oak will resprout with much vigor. I have seen oaks that age and older resprout but they're often rather weak and not nearly as robust as they would be if they were younger.

That said, Luke's right that that oak may have only lived half it's life at this point. I think you'd be best off leaving it and doing any limb removal as needed to keep things safe.

As far as principles that change with your climate, I can't think of any specifically. Deep snow does complicate coppicing since it's hard to cut to ground level. Often we have to make cuts at the height we're able and then make a final coppice cut once the snow is gone but before the buds begin to break.

There's a good bit of info on coppicing and pollarding out of Norway - look up works by Leif Hague and Hakan Slotte.
All the best
 
Daniel Schneider
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Mark Krawczyk wrote:


Hi Daniel
I'd agree with Michael and Luke that it sounds pretty unlikely that your oak will resprout with much vigor. I have seen oaks that age and older resprout but they're often rather weak and not nearly as robust as they would be if they were younger.

That said, Luke's right that that oak may have only lived half it's life at this point. I think you'd be best off leaving it and doing any limb removal as needed to keep things safe.

As far as principles that change with your climate, I can't think of any specifically. Deep snow does complicate coppicing since it's hard to cut to ground level. Often we have to make cuts at the height we're able and then make a final coppice cut once the snow is gone but before the buds begin to break.

There's a good bit of info on coppicing and pollarding out of Norway - look up works by Leif Hague and Hakan Slotte.
All the best



I was afraid that would be the case;  I guess I'll just enjoy it as long as I can.  Thanks for the tips on the Norwegian coppicers- definitely going to look them up!
 
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