why so few hardwoods in the PNW?

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Tue Aug 11 04:11:45 EST 1998

In article <6qggsn$g9v$1 at nnrp1.dejanews.com>, dwheeler at teleport.com 

> I have observed differently at Vic Em's Tie Tree Farm outside of Oregon City,
> Clackamas County, Oregon. Here Vic took overstory trees 120-150 feet tall
> out, which allowed spindly, understory Douglas fir to suddenly spurt. One
> stump I saw had about 12 rings per inch diameter before have canopy cut, to
> 3-4 rings per inch, or less. Thus it makes little sense to clearcut such
> areas when the understory trees (already 30-50' tall) fill in so quickly
> afterwards. BTW, Vic manages this tree farm mostly for telephone poles. When
> I saw him last, he had just dropped precisely a 120-foot pole, managing to
> basal prune several trees ti 40 feet at the same time. Not bad for someone
> who then had just celebrated his 78th birthday.

Unfortunately, your friend isn't doing the trees any favors.  The 50' 
understory is actually the same age as the 120' trees, they are just 
inferior trees.  They have already lost the growth race to the tall trees 
and are in the process of dying out.

It's hard to tell why the inferior trees are inferior.  They may be 
diseased, they may be genetically inferior, or they may just be growing 
in a patch of poor soil.  Under natural growing conditions, they would 
not have the opportunity to reproduce themselves.  Your friend is using 
very poor management technique to select for a diseased and genetically 
inferior forest.  The technique is known as "creaming."  He has evidently 
found an economically rewarding niche manufacturing utility poles, so 
chances are he's replanting with outside stock to obtain the required 
stem density.

If he were managing for the long term, what he should have done was 
selectively thin the 30-50 foot trees, and also possibly removing some of 
the largest trees to establish a well spaced and healthy stand.  
Obviously, you will get little further growth out of a 120 foot tree.  
Capillary action limits the height of Doug Fir to around 120 to 150 feet.  
Even at that the capillaries are forced to smaller diameters, yielding 
the high density wood so prized by woodworkers.  

-- Larry

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