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Treenut's Forest Notes for 2023

2023 Farm Notes:

April 2023: Start Red Oak from Acorns collected Fall 2022, Warner Park:

Acorns sprouting
Acorns sprouting -- ready to plant.

Left: Red Oak Acorn sending out it's taproot.

April 6, 2023: Uncovered acorns after spring thaw. Nearly 100% have begun to sprout (last fall I tested all nuts for viability by floating bad ones in water)

Below Left: Acorns in bottom of bucket that was buried in the compost pile over-winter.

Red Oak acorns need a period of cold to stimulate germination. Burying then simulates the action of squirrels. The metal bucket keeps the squirrels from 'finding' them and eating them.

Below Right: Half the acorns are put in seedbed.

There are aproximately 200 sprouting acorns in this bed.

The acorns are covered with a thin layer of soil and then the whole bed is covered with wire mesh to keep the critters out.

Empty bucket used to overwinter.
Seedbed in middle contains new acorns.


In years past, I spread out the acorns in a seed bed like this. The first year the new seedlings grow up through the screen. The second season I remove the screen and let them grow another year before I dig them up and transplant them -- bare root -- at the farm.


D40 pots
Filled D40 Pots.

D40 pots (again)

I've tried starting Oak in D40 pots in the past with only marginal luck. I've learned -- the hard way -- you must be careful about water, critters, hard frost.

This year I have built a planter box to keep the critters out. Added a raised screen dome to allow for first year growth so the seedlings don't have to grow through. (This will allow access to the pots during the first year.)

Left: D40 pots planted.

Below: Planter Box to hold 4 racks of D40 pots.

Total of 80 pots with one acorn each. The screen cover will give each seedling aprox. 12 inches of space to grow upwards before hitting the screen top.

Planter box
Planter Box with hinged screen cover.
Finished box
Finished planter box -- locked and loaded.


I wonder if they new trees will need more room to spread out sideways. I didn't think of this when designing the planter box or the screen top.

Modified box
Replaced top with flat screen.

Change of plans (and design)

After due consideration I decided to make a flat screen top for this box. This will allow the seedlings to grow up through the screen and give them all the room they need to spread out.

The screen will protect the nuts from the squirrels. If the screen wasn't there the squirrels would dig them up along with the new seedling.

NOTES (2):

After going through all this I have decided to go back to the first box top. I think it's too imortant to be able to access these tubes during the first year of growth (for weeding and such) and this is not possible when the seedlings are growing through the screening.

Young Oaks
Young Oak Seedlings under screen top.

Working system (July 1, 2023)

This design has proven to be the best. I am able to open the top to weed and water these individual D40 tubes. There is plenty of room for growth -- so far. It is now July and this may be the most they will grow this season.

I need to be careful when closing the box not to pinch any of the young leaves. I use a long stick to coax them in while closing cover.

Bundled up
Prepare young oaks for winter cold.

Bundle up for winter(November, 2023)

In past years I have learned that these seedlings do not survive the in the D40 pots if they are left out in the open. One year I buried them -- pots and all -- in my compost pile. They all survived.

The following year I buried them and the mice ate all of them. So this year I am leaving them in the protective frame (with screen top) and surrounding them with straw; on all sides and on the top.

I will cover this entire thing with canvas to keep it together and protect it from rain/snow/ice.

Hopefully it won't act like a greenhouse and warm up too much on sunny days. This would encourage the trees to break dormancy and then freeze and die.

April 2023: Transplant Red Pine and White Spruce from DNR.

My objective is to continue to fill in this old stand that we call "The Windbreak". Much of this stand has been descimated by logging and wind and it's been taken over by underbrush and scrub. I have had some success re-establishing evergreens in the west end and now I want to continue this to the east.

Young Oaks
Trees are here
(200 2-0 Red Pine &
200 3-0 White Spruce).

Perfect Weather / Short on help.

The ground was wet. The trees were perfect size and excelent condition. The weather was cool with periods of rain.

For various reasons, I was alone this year to plant all 400 trees. I didn't think this would be a problem but my body started telling me diferent. So I had to take my time and try not to overdo.

This year I used orange flags -- one at each transplant. Previous years I used green flags. The flags are necessary to find these little trees once the understory starts it's annual growth spurt. These pictures show how barren the ground is in the spring. This will change in a couple weeks and these flages will be very hard to find.

Left: One box holds all 400 transplants.

Planted row looking east into underbrush.

This illustrates some of the difficulty I faced planting this year. All the litter on the ground made it hard to find a place to stick the shovel. I couldn't just dig a slit (like is usually done) and insert the roots because the litter would fall in and tangle with the roots; preventing them from extending to the bottom. I had to actually dig a hole for each transplant and this made the job much, much harder (and slower).

All this underbrush will leaf out in the next month and shade the ground. I will have to cut all this brush around the new trees (ASAP).

Young Oaks
View down a planted row (East).

Planted row looking west.

Rainy weather is great for the new transplants -- but not so great for the transplanter.

Click on picture to enlarge and you will see:

  • Rows of orange flags showing this years' transplants.
  • Green flags showing last years' transplants that have survived.
  • Fenced in cages protecting Oak transplants from last year.
  • Oh, and that's me - a little wet and a little worn.

Young Oaks
View west.

June 2023: Releasing New Transplants.

Young transplant
2023 transplant.

First look at new trees after underbrush leafed out.

New Spruce is taking off; see all the new growth (candles)

click on picture to enlarge

August 2023: Late Summer Transplants.

Planting prep
Planting Preparation.
Planting .
Tree Cages
Installing tree cages .

Transplanting along an old fenceline.

Putting Oak seedlings along a fenceline and adding cages.

Up Left: Mowing thick grass and weeds.

September 23, 2023: Cleared fenceline S. of old barnyard. Mowed tall (thick) grass and weeds, dug out buried wire, cleaned up around posts and straightened bent posts.

Up Right: transplanting trees and watering in.

September 25, 2023: My Nephew George and I planted White Oak, Red Oak and White Spruce next to each old fencepost. (that way we don't have to move the posts)

Left: Adding deer cages.

September 26, 2023: Putting up fences around each new tree to keep deer away.

click on picture to enlarge

September 2023: Begin select thinning and hardwood release.

cutting out competition
2023 remove competeing trees.

Felling large White Pine

Psychologically it is very hard to cut down these nice pine but necessary to open area around thriving hardwood. There is no market for these so I have a choice of either letting them rot on the ground or else hauling them out myself and processing them for my own use.

recovering large pine
2023 Hauling logs.

Hauling some of the nicer logs for milling.

I have access to my nephews saw mill he is willing to try sawing a few of these cull trees. This may work to provide some lumber for some projects on the farm. If it works out, we may do more.

Better than letting them rot!

release walnut
2023 Release Walnut.

Walnut stand: Cut out competing pine.

This area doesn't look like it needs thinning but this is a stand of black walnut trees with pine mixed in. The new forest plan calls for removing any pine that are competing with the black walnut (withing the root zone or competing for canopy dominance).

These pine are not large enough to make good sawlogs so I am just dropping them and trimming off the branches. (to get all the brush as close to the ground as possible so it can rot).

December 2023: Pipeline clearing.

Northern Natural Gas Co. Has chosen this year to cut out their easement accross my woodlot.

Pipeline easment map
Pipeline easement map.

Pipeline Company cutting a swath through my young forest.

A Christmas present from corporate america.

Left: Arial Map of farm.

December 21, 2023: This 10 year old ariel photo is what they used to inform me of the planned clearing. Photo shows young plantation before canopy closed.

Below Left: Brush and limbwood piled in center of swath.

December 26, 2023: Clearing company brought their heavy equipment and cut down all trees in a 50 foot wide swath. They did separate out logs over 3" diameter and stacked at edge.

Below Right: After they 'chipped' the brush.

December 30, 2023: My renter texted that there was a terrible racket up in the woods. He went up and took this picture.

click on picture to enlarge

pipeline cleared
After clearing.
after chipping
After chipping brush .