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Pacific Northwest Coppice Stickfuel and Rotations.

 
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Jesse Glessner wrote:In Indiana we have what is commonly called Red Bud trees!

These things are like elm trees in that they will sprout up seemingly from nowhere and their growth is about as rapid as elm.
You might try those in your wooded area for coppicing.


There are Eastern and Western versions of this tree.
The western version is Cercis occidentalis and it appears that it will grow as far north as Southern BC, but if anyone knows for sure, please speak up.
Here's an info page from Oregon: https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/cercis-occidentalis
The flowers might be good bee fodder? It's always nice to stack functions!
 
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I think there’s a lot of potential for coppicing “fruit trees”, apple peach pear plum apricot…. those guys and all their cousins.

Dense wood with high BTU.  

I don’t know how long a rotation, but that would likely depend in part on when - in the plant’s annual cycle and life cycle - you harvested.  I had an ancient apricot orchard and though I never did it, I used to consider coppicing one or two of the trees.  I thought if I cut the top off when the tree was winter dormant, then the tree would have stored underground enough sap to put the mature tree into blossom and then leaf.  When spring came, I thought that much life would come charging up out of the ground, and there would be ?hundreds? of pounds of wood as water sprout… you might need to thin them the first year, using the thinnings for kindling or various projects.  A first year shoot can easily be fatter than my finger and 5 feet long.  

This is based on the practice I developed to prune for size in the summer, and shape in the winter, because if I cut too much off the tree when it was dormant, there were too many witches brooms and water sprouts.

You wouldn’t get fruit, of course.

Many sucker from the rootstock.  
 
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Kelly Craig wrote:SIDE NOTE (rabbit trail):

Black locust, if allowed to grow, can produce some of the most durable wood you'd find in the Pacific Northwet. This makes it ideal for some woodworking projects. Too, many like it because black locust fence posts pale cedar for longevity and strength. Used above ground, it will outlast all of us, even if we sign in here as babies.



So, given that black locust is so durable, and we have it in the Northeast where I live.. has anyone thought about planting them as living fence posts if you know your paddock system is going to be permanent? Assuming that your fencing panels were going to be a fixed in a manner that would not involve the tree growing around the hardware, doesn't it sound like a good idea? Can anyone comment on this?
 
Jay Angler
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Jennifer Jennings wrote:

Assuming that your fencing panels were going to be a fixed in a manner that would not involve the tree growing around the hardware, doesn't it sound like a good idea? Can anyone comment on this?

I've read about it, but the attachment part is the rub! This would certainly be something to discuss in the fencing forum to see if anyone can come up with good ideas. The places it was used on our property before we got here, the fence wire itself has had trees grow around it. Some books about tree houses specify the types of hardware and how close they can be placed and that they need to be "wound out" a certain number of threads each year in response to tree growth. I try to keep an eye on hardware in trees, but I need to make it a yearly task to take tools and do it. But the fences were simply attached with staples and there's *no* good way to get those out easily.

However, if you treat the "living fence post" similar to a coppice, you could move the fence by cutting down the stem it's on, and attaching it to a younger stem before the fence kills or imbeds itself in the stem it's on? There has to be a good way to do this, we just need to figure out some ideas that will work in different ecosystems!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Well, I am going to veer off topic a little, as for attachments, how does this sound?

There’s a very common piece of hardware for hanging gates; an L shaped bolt, the long leg is threaded, the short leg smooth.  The threaded end gets screwed into a predrilled hole.  

The gate is lifted onto the shorter pin side…

But you wouldn’t need to hang a gate on it.  The threaded piece could be the anchor for what ever fencing a person wanted to use.  From time to time the pin could be backed out a turn or two.

 
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I'm in Central Maryland. We coppice and pollard Silver Maple, Mulberry and Black Locust. They all grow back quickly and heartily. Our sheep love to graze the foliage. All make excellent firewood.
 
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I've seen examples where a person screws a board into a live tree, leaving about 1 inch between board and trunk, and using screws where the threads stop before the head so no threads are in the board. Then they attach the fence to the board, staying clear of the screw heads. Then as the trunk thickens, you loosen the screw to maintain that 1 inch gap. I wonder if pressure on the fence which pulls laterally against the screws would snap them though, screws tend to be tempered so they are brittle and don't bend much before snapping.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Catalpa and mulberry trees are routinely pollarded in municipal landscaping.

I don’t know what the wood is like on those trees, but pollarding is coppicing higher up the trunk isn’t it?

It makes me think they would coppice well, and that a person planning a coppice grove could also pollard, and if the opportunity presents itself, I might readily blur the two techniques

For example I am a great fan of strategically placed trellised vines for winter sun and summer shade (gotta use the vines that die to the ground in winter).

Mightn’t it be possible to have well placed pollarded and-or coppiced trees provide the same function?  It sounds to me like a fun thing to try!

Maybe throw some espalied fruit trees into the guild!
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Catalpa and mulberry trees are routinely pollarded in municipal landscaping.

I don’t know what the wood is like on those trees, but pollarding is coppicing higher up the trunk isn’t it?


I've been watching a number of videos on this topic recently and yes, pollarding is "higher up the trunk". Pollarding is used a lot on a yearly basis either as a management tool to keep a tree at a certain height or originally, to provide fodder for animals where if it was done at ground level, the animals in question would self-serve when you didn't want them to!

However, I only recently found a video that demonstrated that a version of pollarding could in fact be done on a longer cycle for firewood. One thing it stressed was the greater risk of infection for the tree and thus the importance of cutting so that the open wound would drain water and so that the bark wasn't ripped. Some trees are more inclined to infection - partly due to location, not just breed - so I'd want to choose based on my weather situation, not just what others recommend.  We've had to take some fairly major branches off an apple tree planted too near our driveway by someone long ago and it's still doing fine. However, I'm cutting in a way to discourage growth, rather than encourage lots of tall straight growth.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Thekla McDaniels wrote:Catalpa and mulberry trees are routinely pollarded in municipal landscaping.

I don’t know what the wood is like on those trees, but pollarding is coppicing higher up the trunk isn’t it?



However, I only recently found a video that demonstrated that a version of pollarding could in fact be done on a longer cycle for firewood. One thing it stressed was the greater risk of infection for the tree and thus the importance of cutting so that the open wound would drain water and so that the bark wasn't ripped. Some trees are more inclined to infection - partly due to location, not just breed - so I'd want to choose based on my weather situation, not just what others recommend.  We've had to take some fairly major branches off an apple tree planted too near our driveway by someone long ago and it's still doing fine. However, I'm cutting in a way to discourage growth, rather than encourage lots of tall straight growth.



Another factor to consider is that the act of pollarding (and coppicing) tends to cause what are referred to as "adventitious sprouts", growth from dormant buds beneath the bark. These are less likely to be strongly bonded to the trunk or scaffolding branches, so the lower to the ground they are, the less likely they are to break off as they get to larger sizes necessary for firewood (especially during adverse weather like wind, ice and snow events). Also, should they break off, there is less exposure to disease through torn bark and split trunks.

This isn't an issue with pollarding when using it for things like growth control, leaf hay, etc, since you'd be doing it on a fairly tight rotation with small diameter branches, but it could quickly become an issue when attempting to grow out 4 inch diameter and greater firewood or timber.

I personally stick to coppice for firewood, partly for that reason, though I did try my hand at some aspen and black locust pollards as an experiment. The black locust didn't take to it and resprouted from the base of the trunk while the aspen shut off growth almost entirely. Coppices of birch, beech, maple and ash, however, have been doing wonderful. That might all be due to species, of course, but it's possible that certain trees will take to pollarding while others really need to be coppiced for proper regrowth.
 
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