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  1. #16
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    G'day again Timboz

    Without knowing your area I'm going to have a stab at why they are getting belted by the borers (we get them down here too, no doubt different buggers though). Measure the basal area of your blackwood forest. I'm using figures that I know are relevant for blackwood to Tas, Vic and NZ. All species have their biological limits and I suspect it doesn't differ greatly between regions. Below a basal area of ~15 there isn't a great deal of competition between trees. Between 15 and 25 the competition is setting in. 25-35 and the competition is high and tree stress at times of dry conditions can make them vulnerable to pests and diseases. 35-45 and tree-tree competition is severe, self thinning is setting in and the bugs will have a ball if the trees are stressed. A basal area of 45 is the typical limit for blackwood. It can go above this but only on very high quality sites. Highest I know of is a basal area of 75, measured in a 96 year old stand of pure blackwood in NZ. The highest basal area ever measured in native forest in Tas is 60.

    Good news to hear you are going to have a go at some plantations. Keep the final stocking to 150-200 sph, should be thinned to this stocking by age 10-15 at the latest and keep an eye on the basal area. Best of luck.

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  3. #17
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    Default Competition

    Thanks for the info Stu. I was aware of the competition effects and I certainly have too much basal area but as I'm sure Mapleman will also attest, even paddock grown trees succumb prematurely up here. Genetics ??

    Timboz

  4. #18
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    Timboz, genetics may well be a contributing factor. Dry conditions can also be significant. Do you have dry seasonal conditions? Any plantation development should be on lower slopes and along gullies to take advantage of soil moisture. Avoid midslopes and particularly ridgelines. As a species blackwood love moist soil conditions but never plant in swampy ground. The 'blackwood swamps' of NW Tas are a misconception. These 'swamps' are seasonally saturated and relatively dry for a few months over late summer /early autumn. During winter and spring the soil water is moving horizontally through the soil profile, keeping the root systems oxygenated. People have made the mistake of planting in stagnant swamps and the results are terrible.

    Stu

  5. #19
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    Default Growing conditions

    Yes we do have a dry spring approx 120mm, but the senescence occurs even in 'perfect' growing conditions - almost an analogue of Smithton but less swampy and excellent moisture retention through the 'dry'. The largest specimen with a 4m plus bole that I have ever measured up here was 64cm dbh, 7m bole and in definite decline. A case of 'the candle that burns brightest burns briefest' perhaps.

    Timboz

  6. #20
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    Older thread I know.

    Dry periods over summer will cause stress for melanoxyn and thus subject them to borer attack. An idea i had that might be researchable is high boron additions. Boron being a weak insecticide it may have some deterent effect.
    Annual rainfall and rainfall spread over the year needs to be considered ie if only 10% of rainfall occurs over summer you will struggle to grow blackwoods. Annual rainfall needs to be around 1000mm per year

    I tried blackwoods, silver wattle and black wattle with a nurse crop of E globulose and E Nitens. Planted on cleared land, ripped and mounded and distributed across the land profile which included a seasonal creekline Still have the eucs but the acacia are a washout.

    I planted a bunch of yellow stringy and others for a private plantation company over in gippsland. definite potential there.

    I like sugar gum and ironbark (struggling with form on those) for the drier areas of Victoria, frost free locations higher on a hill side seem good for spotted gum but you might need to form prune if frost affects the site.

  7. #21
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    [QUOTE=dadpad;1671941]Older thread I know.

    Dry periods over summer will cause stress for melanoxyn and thus subject them to borer attack. An idea i had that might be researchable is high boron additions. Boron being a weak insecticide it may have some deterent effect.
    Annual rainfall and rainfall spread over the year needs to be considered ie if only 10% of rainfall occurs over summer you will struggle to grow blackwoods. Annual rainfall needs to be around 1000mm per year

    I tried blackwoods, silver wattle and black wattle with a nurse crop of E globulose and E Nitens. Planted on cleared land, ripped and mounded and distributed across the land profile which included a seasonal creekline Still have the eucs but the acacia are a washout.

    QUOTE]

    I've recently bought some land in Gippsland on which I intend to plant various trees for multiple objectives including eventual harvest for some. There's a bunch of trees been planted already including various eucs and acacias including silver wattle and blackwood. While looking for this property I've wandered around a lot of soggy land in South Gipps. One way to tell if the property has a good moisture regime is to examine any remnant silver wattles and blackwood. If they're looking healthy there's a good chance that the rainfall is good. If they're obviously riddled with borer this is a warning sign.

    Another point worth mentioning is the superb form on many of these silver wattle and blackwoods when they grow in a gully; ideally with a SE aspect. I've seen both species gun barrel straight with minimal branching before the crown. At what stage they've self-pruned would be of interest to give some insight into the quantity of clearwood over branch stub. Silver wattle grow very quickly in the right conditions. A 40-50cm DBH butt log in under 20 years is achievable. And it's a lovely timber.

    What seed were you using for the acacia plantings you mention? I'm not sure if there are any BW and SW provenances with good growth, form etc available for a Sth Gipps site or if I should collect some seed.

  8. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu70 View Post
    Hi All
    I've produced the only example of successful Blackwood silviculture in Australia and the first to have established Yellow stringbark in NW Tassie, a species with a lot of potential that few know much about as a plantation species, with the exception of the Kiwis and a handful of people in Vic.
    What sort of growth rates are you seeing from the yellow stringybark? That's a species I'm considering planting. And what seed provenance do you use for blackwood plantings in Sth Gipps and the Otways?

  9. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAI View Post
    What seed were you using for the acacia plantings you mention? I'm not sure if there are any BW and SW provenances with good growth, form etc available for a Sth Gipps site or if I should collect some seed.
    Smithton Tas for the blackwoods (A. mealnoxon), Black hill reserve Kynton Vic for the blackwattle (A Mearnsii). I believe the seed was sources from CSIRO seed bank. I planted a few local silver wattles as well but they went the same way all the acacias did. Looked good for about 5 or 8 years then kaput.
    Definitely worth trying acacias in high rainfall country though.
    A lot has been learned since i planted.

    If you are considering planting trees around gippsland I'd talk definitely to a consultant. The economics of harvesting for commercial production will play a large role in how and what you plant. Most harvesting contractors won't look at anything under 10 Ha. and if mixed species that makes it all the more difficult. Certainly do-able but not as easy as it may seem. Soil needs to be examined for trace elements like boron and copper deficiency, soil depth, slope, to rip or not to rip.

  10. #24
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    Gíday Dadpad and MAI, just catching up on a few of your posts.

    With respect to site, rainfall etc. Blackwood does require ~1000mm+ for good growth and I wouldnít recommend sites with much less. Areas such as south Gippy with this sort of rainfall will sustain good growth and healthy trees provided stocking and management is appropriate. Some years will see low summer rainfall (eg:10% or less of the annual) but it will not cause problems unless stockings are too high. Iíve seen it all too often, inappropriate stockings and growers wondering where it all went wrong or being blind to troubles down the track.

    Globulus and nitens can be very effective nurse crops Ė the photos attached to my original post show blackwood grown with nitens as the nurse crop. To be effective they must be managed properly. If you havenít started controlling / thinning the eucs by age 6 at the latest then you are heading for major trouble. As mentioned, gullies are where blackwood of good form can often be found. This is largely attributable to the light environment more than anything else. Hence the use of faster growing eucs to alter the light environment as well as the provision of wind protection. But remember, once the blackwood has formed a straight stem of ~6m with the help of form pruning (this should be by age 5-6 on good sites) then the nurse crop has done its job, beyond this it starts to become a threat.

    Site prep Ė Iíve often seen ripping undertaken when itís not necessary. Site location, area, soil type / profile and history of site use will determine whether ripping is needed or not. Soil nutrients Ė trace elements such as copper and boron may occasionally be warranted at establishment. Mid rotation fertilizing is rarely worth it economically and if needed then Iíd suggest either the site and/or species is in question. Iíve seen large pits dug to assess soil profiles with the expense of moving heavy machinery on site to do so Ė 95% of the time itís not warranted. Site quality can usually be determined by looking at remnant native vegetation, it says more than anything.

    Be careful with wattles as potential weeds, the seed is long lived and if introduced to an area where not native then it may create an issue long-term. Blackwood not such an issue as itís common in high rainfall areas but silver wattle isnít usually as wide spread while black wattle is typically a native in drier locations. Personally I wouldnít bother with black wattle for this reason.

    I would recommend low elevation NW Tassie (Smithton) seed for blackwood but donít expect it to dramatically outperform seed collected from local areas, so long as itís collected from a high rainfall area (eg: south Gippy and Otways). Thereare also some who argue that seed from other localities shouldnít be introduced into new areas due to genetic pollution Ė not something I agree with but it has been raised as a potential issue.

    Donít worry about typical harvest contractors not considering anything less than 10ha. A few acres of well managed blackwood planted now will be a valuable resource in 35-40 years time. As someone who has worked in NW Tassie (wheremost blackwood is sourced from) I can assure you native forest harvesting isnít going to last that long. Small areas can be effectively harvested with a chainsaw and farm tractor. Longish rotations such as this add amenity value and commercial value to properties in the shorter term.

    With regard to yellow stringy growth rates, theyíre not bad. I planted a mixture of YS and nitens in NW Tassie and to age 10 the YS wasnít far behind. On a good site you can expect up to 1.5m height growth / year. With appropriate stocking 50-60cm diameter sawlogs can be grown within 25-30 years. Unlike nitens, wood quality of YS is excellent from trees this young.

    MAI, if you require assistance I can help. Iíve seen too many tree growers, professionally trained and amateur alike, make all number of mistakes. Whether youíre after a single species plantation or a mixture I have the knowledge and experience to get things right first time. Problem with trees is the time frame Ė you only get one chance to get it right.

  11. #25
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    Almost all sites in the original FFORNE plantings required boron. So I'm not sure i agree with the word "occasionally". Almost all sites I worked on needed boron and those that didn't get get it were poor form, including radiata. Boron seems especially important on old cropping land where P is likely to have been heavily applied. Certainly on my site the Blue gums had poor form until i applied 40g ulexite/tree

    With nitens fertilising appears to assist in keeping branch sizes small. Branch size becomes important when you prune 150 a day for a living.

    I'd like to see some black wattle trialed for timber in high rainfall. It is lovely timber but not suitable in my 750mm rainfall. I doubt it would be any good in a low rainfall plantation.

  12. #26
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    Default Many

    Many species can be grown in a plantation if your determined enough, and throw lots of $ at the project.

    The thing is at the end of the day to be profitable the tree itself has to fit an economic model the way P radiata & pinaster do in order to be viable long term.

    They are grown successfully in plantations because they fit an economic model that returns a final profit at years 32 on when the effect of compounding interest is factored in over such a long time span. The reason that P species fit the model is that the first thinning's bring a small cash injection when sold as "Xmas trees" by the boy scouts and this cash injection slightly offsets the compounding effect of interest early in the project - then second thinning's go to chip for again another cash injection part way thru the growing cycle to again offset the compounding effect of interest, such that when harvest finally arrives, after all the fertilizing and high pruning etc - you end up with a profit from your venture from your peeler & sawn lumber logs etc.

    If Blackwood or any other species doesn't fit an economic model that generates a profit at the end good luck getting finance to establish and maintain it to maturity.

    The farm forestry industry generally in Australia has a poor record financially which is why so many are leery now of investing in it.

    Any idiot can grow a tree - it takes a clever idiot to grow one and make a profit doing it.

    Established Pines - when thinned and high pruned in say HRFRB's can be suitable for grazing leases for example where any nutrients from expensive fertilizer that aren't uptaken by the trees roots initially get turned into palatable grass for livestock, that then turn that grass back into - you guessed it, more (free) fertilizer for the trees!.

    Its these aspects that make the species suit the economic model...

    If site costs are too high due to incline (roading construction and maintenance & skyline logging for e.g.) then even Pine species can be risky - also in such lengthy investment periods...if interest rates do as they have done before and go skywards of 17 - 20% then forget the capital costs of thinning and high pruning.

    So the question really - as mush as the silviculture aspects is economic...

    What returns are there during the growing period (thinnings) to offset the monster of compounding interest which will quickly kill most plantation projects if not managed?

    What if interest rates skyrocket - will you still have the numbers for the bank to lend the capital to maintain the plantation?

    Can you graze livestock in the plantation to help control fire risk and add free fertilizer?

    I fail to see how Blackwood fits a successful economic model myself - but it may be possible.

    Experiece here with E Globulous shows better results at 1750 SPH plantings, Pine sp yes at 2250 sph - but I'd suggest Blackwood might do better at 1750 sph myself in 1000mm & + environments.

    It likely CAN be done - but does it pay? - that's the Bob and Dolly Dyer, BP Pick-A-Box, $64,000 question that hasn't been answered.

    Wouldn't a better option be to manage a natural production forest of Blackwood well for good commercial returns, and let nature do what it does best - grow the damn trees?

    We can put a man on the moon - but lets face it - we can't make it pay, which is why no ones been back!.

    Same same with Blackwood probably.

    Show me how the numbers stack up....then we talk the silvicultural practices required to make it happen.

    An awfull lotta tree plantation investors have lost an awfull lot of $ in recent years...in Australia and they have a right now to be mighty skeptical IMHO... and not without good reason.

    Blackwoods a nice timber but equally so are many others.

    No ones planting Huon Pine in plantations for a reason.... (hint - it's economic & related to length of time before a return on investment) and that's because it doesn't fit any successful economic model for a plantation - yet ts one of the most highly sought after timbers in Oz for boat building & fine furniture etc.

    Not saying Blackwood can't be done, but I'd want to see the numbers stack up first.

    My 2c.

  13. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadpad View Post
    Almost all sites in the original FFORNE plantings required boron. So I'm not sure i agree with the word "occasionally". Almost all sites I worked on needed boron and those that didn't get get it were poor form, including radiata. Boron seems especially important on old cropping land where P is likely to have been heavily applied. Certainly on my site the Blue gums had poor form until i applied 40g ulexite/tree

    With nitens fertilising appears to assist in keeping branch sizes small. Branch size becomes important when you prune 150 a day for a living.

    I'd like to see some black wattle trialed for timber in high rainfall. It is lovely timber but not suitable in my 750mm rainfall. I doubt it would be any good in a low rainfall plantation.
    G'day Dadpad

    Must admit I'm not familiar with the soils of NE Vic where the FFORNE plantings are located. I am familiar with the basalt soils of high rainfall areas of TAS, south Gippsland and the Otways. These are the high quality sites I'm referring to where blackwood should be grown. I'm not one to advocate blackwood for planting on good agricultural areas that can be cropped, it should be planted in gullies and steeper areas that arguably should never have been cleared in the first place. You have given me reason to do a bit more research into Boron for lower quality soils but blackwood will always need form pruning and manipulation of the light environment / wind protection when young to produce excellent form.

    I agree black wattle can produce excellent timber and has real potential in high rainfall areas but I do have some reservations about its potential as an introduced weed species. Having said that the seed of wattles is not wind or bird dispersed so it would remain a potential weed species to the site it's introduced to.

  14. #28
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    Default Response to Timeless Timber

    Myself and many others have shown that blackwood can provide positive economic returns, even on 40 year rotations with no cash flows from thinnings early in the rotation. There is published info out there. Species like blackwood are ideal for small scale forestry plantings that are integrated into the agricultural environment, not as a broad scale replacement like the disastrous blue gum industry. I've been to NZ and visited some of their leading farm foresters who are making as much as 50% of their annual income from the harvest of a few ha each year. They're growing pines, macrocarpa, eucs, blackwood and many others. I know of NZ grown blackwood that's gone into furniture, floors, veneers and even musical instruments. Growers are cloning trees based on wood quality and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before a fiddleback is cloned, the value of which would be exceptional.


    I don't wish to be disrespectful but I do question many of your comments.

  15. #29
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    Default Question my comments?

    So the question really - as mush as the silviculture aspects is economic...

    What returns are there during the growing period (thinnings) to offset the monster of compounding interest which will quickly kill most plantation projects if not managed?

    What if interest rates skyrocket - will you still have the numbers for the bank to lend the capital to maintain the plantation?

    Can you graze livestock in the plantation to help control fire risk and add free fertilizer?

    I fail to see how Blackwood fits a successful economic model myself - but it may be possible.

    Experiece here with E Globulous shows better results at 1750 SPH plantings, Pine sp yes at 2250 sph - but I'd suggest Blackwood might do better at 1750 sph myself in 1000mm & + environments.

    It likely CAN be done - but does it pay? - that's the Bob and Dolly Dyer, BP Pick-A-Box, $64,000 question that hasn't been answered.

    Wouldn't a better option be to manage a natural production forest of Blackwood well for good commercial returns, and let nature do what it does best - grow the damn trees?

    We can put a man on the moon - but lets face it - we can't make it pay, which is why no ones been back!.

    Same same with Blackwood probably.

    Show me how the numbers stack up....then we talk the silvicultural practices required to make it happen.
    "
    Question my comments?
    Maybe try answering some of my questions... I've gone to the trouble of reminding you of them.

    Maybe there's a difference between being a practicing forester and a theoretical one.

  16. #30
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    Default RE Timeless Timber

    There was a time when the following example was considered a great concept that originated in NZ and the idea then taken up by growers in Tasmania. Plant 2-3 rows of Radiata pine close together with wide bays of 8-12 meters between for pasture production. Prune and thin the pines to ~200sph and graze underneath. The outcome was disastrous. Pasture production was OK for the first 5-8 years until shading altered pasture species composition and feed quality to the point where it was virtually of no value. The pines developed huge branches and diameter growth was so fast that timber quality was exceptionally poor. The idea has since been abandoned.

    To maintain pasture quality tree stocking needs to be very low. This excludes pines for reasons of timber quality as explained. Might be possible with say blue gum at stockings of ~50sph where fast diameter growth is not detrimental to wood quality in the pruned butt log. Problem is volume production suffers considerably at such low stockings and pasture quality is still reduced later in the rotation. Best value of such a system is shelter provision during periods of extreme heat and cold. However, best productivity is either 100% grazing or 100% tree growing, agroforestry as described above will lower overall productivity. To put it simply, grow quality grass where best suited and grow trees as well managed plantations where best integrated into the agricultural landscape.

    Globulus shows best results at 1750 sph - for what purpose? The statement is meaningless without indicating for what regime. Pulpwood? Stockings at this level only results in reduced diameter at harvest time (around peak MAI) compared to 800-1000sph with no significant gain in total volume production. The extra cost of seedlings and planting will reduce Internal Rate of Return (IRR), with reduced stumpage at time of harvest due to increased harvest costs. Alternatively, try and maintain stumpage and put the pressure on contractors - Iíve seen contactors going broke, just burning diesel and time to process small diameter pulpwood trees.

    What about a sawlog regime with globulus? If you want to grow quality euc sawlog in plantations then low final stockings are the way to go, in the order of 150-200sph at most. If planted at 1750 sph then you have a lot of non-commercial thinning to undertake. Or perhaps you would suggest waiting for a commercial thinning, in which case you will ruin your sawlog production through the development of excessive growth stress and tension wood as a result of growing trees with a high height to diameter ratio. Likewise, youíre saying 2250 sph for pine but for what regime? I know of the regime implemented by ForestryTasmania in NE Tas to control branch size and provide multiple commercial thinnings for sawlog mid rotation, planted at 1600 sph. They produce excellent structural pine from this regime. Higher stockings in the order youíre talking only reduces diameter, increases harvest costs per cubic meter and increases stand instability post thinning. Iím not aware of any significant growers, whether large industrials or switched on farm foresters, who establish stockings at the level you are talking. As for blackwood at 1750 sph I can only hope youíre talking about initial stocking and not final. What experience do you have with blackwood?

    As for the economics and numbers, if you are a forester with an understanding of the economics then you would know that this is not the place to present such info. It can be somewhat detailed and subject to a fair degree of interpretation. For example, what discount rate to apply, of which there is no definitive answer but will depend upon the level of risk that an individual applies. A business that purchases land solely for plantation development would apply a significantly higher discount rate to a project than would a farmer who decides to plant trees on a portion of their land that they do not consider suitable for intensive agriculture. As for the numbers regarding blackwood then do some research. Youíll find it on the internet. Why not ask Scion Research (formally the Forest Research Institute of NZ) who have published such info. If you doubt their numbers then let me know why. As for myself, Iíve done a considerable amount of economic modeling of plantation regimes for landowners in Tassie, including providing the economics of plantations and projected returns to the Taxation Department for the provision of obtaining Discretionary Rulings such that landowners could claim costs against personal income. To get such Rulings approved the economics needs to be verified by other foresters. Iíve successfully done this for pines and blackwood, both of which showed positive returns with non-commercial thinning and no returns until final harvest at ages 28 and 40 respectively.

    As to whether Iím a practicing forester or a theoretical one Iíll let others judge. Iíve got some 15 years experience as a professional forester, successfully worked out the silviculture of blackwood and produced the results, successfully managed pine plantations, been heavily involved in the native forest blackwood resource of NW Tassie including clearfell harvest, regeneration and commercial thinning and for your interest, had a fair bit to do with Huon pine as well, including milling, drying and utilization. And I do know a thing or two about forest economics.

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