poplar trees, plotting their deaths

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Sun Feb 15 12:33:02 EST 1998

In article <xFe500O5Ig7H091yn at teleport.com>,
  larryc at teleport.com (Larry Caldwell) wrote:
> In article <34E4E4C3.66FD at somtel.com>, alan haley <ahaley at somtel.com> wrote:
> > I have bought a woodlot that has a 10 acre section that was clear cut
> > and grew back to poplar trees.  They are now 8 to 12 feet tall and there
> > is not a lot of understory growth.  Some fir/spruce and birch mixed in.
> > I do not want to grow the poplar but dont know how to stop them.  If I
> > just cut them with brush saws, wont they grow back faster than the young
> > spruce and fir can grow.  What should I do?
> The easiest way to deal with unwanted hardwoods is slash and squirt.  Take
> a hatchet and open up the bark to the cambium, then squirt Garlon into the
> wound.  The tree will die, and the desirable trees will grow up past it.
> For small trees like you describe, a single squirt will do it.  Large
> trees may require two or three slashes.
> Use concentrated Garlon just like it comes in the bottle.  A small 1 pint
> squirt bottle will keep you working for a long time.  Don't forget to
> wear rubber gloves and a mask.
> If you want to cut the trees, you can mix Garlon with diesel and treat the
> stump, but be careful.  Strange as it may seem, diesel is a lot more toxic
> than Garlon, and will do a lot more damage to both the environment and you.
> -- Larry
BEWARE! Garlon has some problems. At a test site in Clatsop County, Oregon
several years ago, Garlon was being used to control Red alder (Alnus rubra)
population among Douglas fir and Western hemlock seedlings. This particular
management method including at least some Red alder, since several studies
have indicated that Red alder mixed with Douglas fir grow both trees faster.

The problem? When a sampling alder was cut and squirted with Garlon as
described above, it killed not just the Red alder cut, but also several nearby
trees. Thus a single squirt often harvested 4-6 trees, considerably more than
what was intended. With several thousand stems per acre, this is not
necessarily a problem, except when you are trying to save certain Red alder.
Regretfully, these trees were too often also killed.

The problem seems to lie in the mycorrhizal mat community underground, along
with the proximity of stems to each other. Mycorrhizal mats often join two or
more trees together in a sharing of nutrients, and water. Mycorrhizae are also
shown to disperse poisons to both the tree and fungi. When Garlon is applied
to one tree, the toxin goes to the roots, is absorbed by the fungus, and
immediately dispersed as widely as possible. Thus, several trees are affected
before the toxicity decreases.

While Garlon may be indicated in some very young stands of Red alder less than
10-15 years old, I wouldn't recommend using it on _any_ older tree stands in
the Pacific Northwest: you certain will kill the notched trees, but almost as
certainly you will also kill many of the trees you DIDN'T want to harm.

One possible way to ameliorate the toxicity is to use very little Garlon per
tree: apply a few drops, no more.

It have been my experience that a good corn knife can be just as effective at
Red alder control for smaller stands. Yes, it takes considerably longer to
thin a stand. But the remaining trees sure grow fast afterwards. And, thinned
red alder makes for ideal mushroom bedlogs during the second and third
thinnings. Plus, the thinning tends to knock off any dead lower branches from
the trees to be saved, allowing those trees to heal quickly and form "clear"
wood, which is quite sought-after in Japan.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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