Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tree thinning: Sticking to the plan

    Over the past several years we have been thinning a block of Kanza trees. Yesterday we continued that process by removing several more trees (photo at right).
    Four years ago I laid out a tree thinning plan  that maps out which trees will be removed and which will stay.  At that time, only trees in the northeast corner of the block were actually starting to crowd so I decided to starting removing trees on a as-needed basis. Each year we measure tree diameter then use that information to determine which areas within the orchard might need thinning next. We have been removing 5 to 7 trees per year since 2012. Yesterday we cut down 7 trees.
      In the map at right, the diameter of each tree in the orchard is represented by a green ball. The larger the ball, the larger the diameter. Trees marked out by a black dot are the trees we cut down yesterday. This map also gives you a good idea of the progress we've made in thinning the entire orchard. As of this year, we've removed 25 of the 72 trees slated for removal in the original thinning plan.
    Thinning a pecan orchard over a period of several years offers several real advantages over thinning the entire planting at one time.
  • the impact of tree removal on total orchard  yield is minimized.
  • tree removal costs are spread out over time.
  • trees are removed before overcrowding can cause limb loss and yield reduction.