Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time to Thin Trees

   With the temperatures pushing 50 F  and the ground nice and dry, I decided today was a perfect day to started some long planned thinning operations.The orchard pictured above is 25 years old and the limbs of adjacent trees were getting very close if not touching. The original orchard was planted with trees 30 feet apart in a square pattern (see diagram above, right). To thin the orchard, we removed every other tree in first row (tree number 2,4,6,8, etc). For row two, we switched to removing the odd number trees (tree 1,3,5,7, etc).  For row three, its back to removing the even numbered trees.
To avoid confusion, clearly mark the trees you plan to remove with flagging tape (if you look closely you'll see yellow tape around the trunk of the sawed trees in the photo above). 
  After thinning the remaining trees should still be arranged in a square pattern with trees 42 feet apart but the squares are now shifted 45 degrees. Sometime in the future this orchard we be thinned again to achieve the final spacing of 60 x 60 feet. 
   One the worst decisions you can make is to delay the thinning process until the time the trees become so crowded that you start seeing significant limb loss and a decrease in yield. It looks like we are having a pretty good winter to make some firewood so don't miss this opportunity to crank up the chainsaw..