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  1. #1
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    Jul 2010
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    Default Farm Forestry Specialist

    Hi All
    I'm a forester with a special interest in farm forestry for commercial wood production and aesthetics. My area of expertise is Blackwood and Yellow stringybark, plus a few other species. I've worked in Tassie for over 10 years and have undertaken extensive surveys of plantations throughout Tas, NZ and Vic. 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. I have a different approach to tree growing and management to other foresters and I'm not willing to waste peoples time and money if there is any doubt regarding success. I'm currently living in Melb and willing to travel but restrict myself to high rainfall areas (800mm+), eg: Otways, ranges NE of Melb, South Gippsland, Tassie. If anyone is interested in exploring the potential of specialty farm plantations of 1 acre plus, whether for commercial or aesthetic purposes, let me know.

    Bwd1.jpgBwd2.jpg

    Above photos are of 15 year old plantation Blackwood, tree height 15m+, ~23cm diam, pruned to 6.5m. This can be replicated on any site with suitable rainfall, soil and climate.

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  3. #2
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    Nov 2006
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    Default

    To me,it comes as no surprise that Blackwood (melanoxylon) would perform well in a plantations,as it does seem to occur naturally in pure stands.Where i live in Sth East Queensland(near Belthorpe range),it grows in almost pure stands,although the species does at times have a 'branchy' habit.Would do really well as an underplanted species in certain areas too i reckon..regular prunning would be an imperative,to achieve a commercial quality bole..in fact,the Blackwood growing around this provenance is producing timber of high quality..it is a marvellous timber.. MM
    Mapleman

  4. #3
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    G'day Mapleman
    Blackwood can often be seen growing in pure stands, yet form is nearly always poor with retained branch stubs resulting in little if any recoverable clearwood. As a single species it's slow at self thinning, resulting in slow diameter growth. I've seen successful examples of pure Blackwood stands in NZ, planted at 2500 stems/ha and thinned to 150-200 stems/ha by age 10. Problem with this approach is the huge task of thinning which makes the economics questionable while form pruning and clearwood pruning is still required. As an underplanted species, form is often very good due to low light levels. However, diameter growth will be very slow due to the competition. Stocking rates need to be 150-200 stems/ha with no other competition to produce commercially viable stands.

  5. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stu70 View Post
    G'day Mapleman
    Blackwood can often be seen growing in pure stands, yet form is nearly always poor with retained branch stubs resulting in little if any recoverable clearwood. As a single species it's slow at self thinning, resulting in slow diameter growth. I've seen successful examples of pure Blackwood stands in NZ, planted at 2500 stems/ha and thinned to 150-200 stems/ha by age 10. Problem with this approach is the huge task of thinning which makes the economics questionable while form pruning and clearwood pruning is still required. As an underplanted species, form is often very good due to low light levels. However, diameter growth will be very slow due to the competition. Stocking rates need to be 150-200 stems/ha with no other competition to produce commercially viable stands.
    Hi Stu 70..thanks for sharing ..i never knew that there were plantations of it growing in N.Z...great to hear they are performing well..curious as to where you are sourcing your seedstock,also,is genetic science helping to improve growing form?,as you say,form can be poor.Would love as much info you can provide...very interesting stuff..Cheers MM
    Mapleman

  6. #5
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    Default

    Blackwood is an interesting species. There have been a number of provenance trials, mostly in NZ. Low elevation NW Tassie seedlots show the best form and growth but advantage is relatively small. NZ foresters took seed from the best formed Blackwood of NW Tassie back in the late 50s and yet the form in plantations was no better than seed from trees of poor form. The over-riding factor to good form is the environment (surrounding vegetation) that influences tree growth and branching habit. Science / tree growers are making a start to producing plantation stock with respect to wood quality. There are growers in NZ that have produced clonal stock with selections based upon wood colour and density. It's only a matter of time before someone clones a truly genetic fiddleback Blackwood - they do exist but are rare.

  7. #6
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    May 2011
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    Default

    I've often wondered about planting out a few acres of blackwood for the kids retiement. I know they do grow great around here but I think my particular site would be unsuitable as it does cop a lot of wind, and is open to the north.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu70 View Post
    - they do exist but are rare.
    So true....its a joy to mill one though ..MM
    Mapleman

  9. #8
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    I dream nighlty of finding that blackwood with intense fiddle.

  10. #9
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    G'day Shedbound
    Your right, Blackwood hates wind when young and severely reduces height growth and form. However, it can be fixed with a mixture of faster growing eucs to provide shelter. The photos are from a site that is subject to strong westerly winds, yet growth and form has not been impeded due to shelter. The eucs were stem injected to cause slow death from age 6-10 and has worked beautifully, releasing the Blackwood.

  11. #10
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    G'day Stu, just as a matter of interest can one get insurance on a plantation, and would the cost of this make it unsustainable on a small scale?

  12. #11
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    Insurance for a small scale plantation is not worth the expense. Fire and wind are the two risks. I've seen Blackwood recover from mild fires and in a well managed plantation I'd suggest the risk is very small. In a forest setting there is considerable fuel from the ground up, often with branch and bark accumulation around the base of trees. What kills trees is a heat source of some duration such that the cambium layer (the layer of cells between the bark and sapwood, the growing part of the stem) is killed. In a well managed plantation setting established on previously cleared land there will be grass but very little other fuel (thinned trees can be removed for firewood). Any ground fire would be insufficient to kill the cambium layer. A crown fire could occur if there was native forest adjacent to enable spread but such conditions are relatively rare. I've seen some Blackwood recover from burnt crowns while others haven't. Variation in survival is a combination of ground fuels and fire intensity, plus natural variation between trees. Wind damage (windthrow) in plantations can be virtually eliminated by proper management. Windthrow occurs when plantations are thinned to late, resulting in tall skinny trees that become susceptible to strong winds. Can't give any guarantees against tornadoes though.

  13. #12
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    Default

    Thanks for the in depth reply Stu

  14. #13
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    Default Blackwood provenance

    G'day Stu 70,

    You are quite right about provenance selection for NZ but extensive trials conducted in sub-tropical China clearly demonstrate the superiority of Sunshine Coast provenances for the climate of Mapleman and myself up here. It is a knockout timber - milling logs is like a lucky dip where you can't lose, rather just get a less stunning result! When you say Yellow Stringy Stu, are you talking E. acmenoides or a 'southern' Yellow Stringy?

    Timboz

  15. #14
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    Default

    G'day Timboz
    You're right, northern Aust provenances perform well in China, southern don't. By the way, not too many people would know that, have you had anything to do with the Blackwod Industry Group (BIG) or been reading RIRDC publications / internet search from BIG? Always use a local provenance or if not, then a provenance from as similar a climate (temp, elevation, frost) as possible.
    My reference to Yellow Stringy is E. muelleriana from southern NSW and VIC - great species attributes for farm forestry.

  16. #15
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    Default Blackwood provenance

    G'day again Stu70,

    Yes I have read the RIRDC publications and anything else I can get my hands on about the perplexing buggers that they are. They grow like the clappers up here but tend to senesce or get belted by borers at 50-60cm d.b.h if your lucky. Have seen 80cm boles (1.5m) rarely. I have a 25 ha property with around 15ha of regenerating blackwood but I missed my chance to treat most of it silviculturally as I was blissfully ignorant of it as a timber species until too late. I am going to start some plantations soon though and gradually mill up the existing trees as they start to lose vigor.

    Timboz

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