Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Removing Field Trees

My last bit of maintenance work to do on the open fields was to cut and stump spray larger trees that are trying to take hold.  Smaller specimens were cut and sprayed as I mowed last fall.  I thought I would get better results if the larger ones were left until they began their spring growth.  Buds have now swelled and leaves are beginning to unfurl, so I’ve begun to systematically remove the remainder of the trees that I have determined should not be allowed to grow in the field.  There’s nothing horrible about these trees.  They are native species that are quite desirable in other locations.  It’s just that the field is managed for sun loving prairie type grasses and forbs and the trees don’t fit that mix.

Not every tree gets cut.  I’m still maintaining a scattering of White Flowering Dogwood, various oak species and a couple of Virginia Pine.  Everything else goes and some of those have gotten rather large. 

The after view.  The trees that are left are spaced far enough apart to allow sunlight to reach the ground on all sides.

Red Maple quickly invaded this area of moister soil in one of the field swales.  The most aggressive field invaders are those species with light seeds that are carried by the wind.  Their seed can easily cover a field in a single season.  Heavy seeded trees often depend on animals such as squirrels of Blue Jays that bury the seeds in open fields as a future food source. Unclaimed acorns become the oaks I am encouraging.

The larger Red Maples have been taken care of, but treatment of new seedlings will be an annual event for several more years before the stand is finally obliterated.

The cut material was removed from the field and stacked atop one of the existing brush piles.  Larger trees are broken down last and the trunks used to weigh down the pile of springy branches.  Brush piles in this condition are much favored by House Wrens as nesting sites.

The most common invading tree is the Tuliptree.  It takes only a few years for this species to go from a seedling to a three inch diameter tree.  The smaller the tree, the easier it is to cut and treat, so the fields should be checked for new sprouts each year.  That means I have to allow time for maintenance.  Every time I do something new, it adds another item to my maintenance list.  Eventually I reach a point where I don’t have time to do all of the maintenance, let alone do anything new.  That’s why I’m now dealing with larger sized trees in this field.  I knew years ago, when these trees were just seedlings, that they should be cut, but at the time, I was busy doing something else that I considered to be of greater importance.  That is called management and management is what I do at Blue Jay Barrens.

Now I have a field dominated by prairie grasses and forbs that contains a scattering of White Flowering Dogwood and Oaks.  I’ll do what maintenance I can here, but I most likely won’t do any major work in this field until the next time the invading trees reach a point that they can no longer be ignored.

No comments:

Post a Comment