Selecting Sites for Fraser Fir Production

Selecting Sites for Fraser Fir Production

Correct website choice for Fraser fir Christmas timber includes consideration of a large variety of elements that may affect the final word success of manufacturing. Many Fraser fir growers proceed to incur prices for poor website choice choices made years in the past. The choice to set a specific area impacts all subsequent administration actions for the timber on that website, for good or worse. Pure fertility of the soil will decide each the standard of tree development and the price of fertility administration. Facet (the path a area faces) and elevation can affect the incidence of a number of pests. Website elements together with clay content material of soils, soil depth to an impervious layer or rock, and water drainage patterns throughout a area can predispose Fraser fir to an infection by Phytophthora root rot. Whereas sure administration actions can off-set the unfavourable impacts of a poor or marginal website, the price of manufacturing and the time concerned in ending timber will often enhance in comparison with higher websites. By contemplating a full vary of website elements, many issues could be prevented, delayed, or diminished within the website choice course of.

One grower concern overwhelms all others in regard to website collection of Fraser fir and lots of different Christmas tree species: avoiding any issue which may enhance the chance of growing Phytophtora root rot (PRR). Improvement of PRR is dependent upon the interplay of the pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi, the host, and the surroundings. PRR can solely happen the place the fungus has been launched, nevertheless it spreads with water, soil, and farm gear. As a soil-borne illness, PRR is sort of unattainable to manage and can stay within the soil for years if not many years to come back. Fraser fir has no resistance to the illness. Fungicides are a short-term resolution that usually fail to penetrate the basis zone. Panorama options, soil hydrology (motion of water by way of the soil), and human exercise all can affect improvement and unfold of the illness. Whereas the illness could also be extra prone to develop on a poor website, a “good” website with excellent soils could be overwhelmed in a flood or an especially moist season. Correct website choice can enhance the chances of harvesting a wholesome crop however supplies no assure. For extra info on this illness, learn the next: Administration of Phytophthora Root Rot in Fraser Fir Christmas Timber.

The Fraser Fir Activity Pressure: In 1998, NC State College directors introduced collectively an interdisciplinary activity pressure to handle business considerations over declining website productiveness and the lack of farmland to PRR. The duty pressure carried out Fraser fir seedling nursery and area surveys over the next two years.

The nursery survey recognized Phytophthora in roughly 1-2% of seedlings sampled from 31 nurseries. That small share present in one 12 months of manufacturing grew to become an alarming quantity when the cumulative impact of many years of annual planting had been thought-about. A really small threat of an infection may change into a close to certainty over time. Outcomes from this nursery survey helped the NC Christmas tree business transition away from naked root seedlings to much less dangerous soil-less container-grown plugs.

The Fraser Fir Activity Pressure area survey included over 250 websites throughout the North Carolina mountain area. Elevation, facet, soil fertility, soil kind, depth of soil, tree development, and illness incidence had been assessed at each website. Information offered a clearer understanding of nutrient standing throughout the business. Nonetheless, essentially the most essential info associated to elements mostly linked to improvement of PRR. Websites with shallow soils and subsoils with larger clay content material offered the best correlation to incidence of illness. Activity pressure outcomes have influenced the next dialogue of optimum website choice for Fraser fir.

Elevation and facet are sometimes used to outline the suitability of a website for Fraser fir, notably in regard to the local weather and soil. As a rule of thumb, growers in some counties used a 3,000 foot backside threshold, however widespread manufacturing in different counties happens at a lot decrease elevations. Nonetheless, both excessive in elevation current issues. Very chilly, uncovered high-elevation websites (ridges and peaks above 4,500 toes) and really heat low-elevation websites (south-facing slopes beneath 2,500 toes) adversely have an effect on Fraser fir root development, bud set and foliage high quality. At both climatic excessive, the time frame that tree roots operate could also be restricted.

Local weather and temperature additionally management the formation of soil on a website. Natural matter decays and minerals climate quicker on hotter websites. Decrease elevations and southern facets typically have much less natural matter within the topsoil and extra clay within the subsoil than larger elevations or northern facets. At elevations above 3,400 toes, darkish, loam soils could be discovered at any facet. As elevation drops beneath 3,000 toes, facet turns into extra vital. At 2,400 toes, a south-facing slope might have an excessive amount of clay within the subsoil predisposing the positioning to PRR unfold. The north face of the identical ridge may have a less-weathered, loamy subsoil that drains higher. Facet may have a higher affect on steeper slopes than on stage floor.

After experiencing PRR-related mortality at low-elevation clayey websites, some growers have shifted their manufacturing to excessive elevation farms. Whereas they diminished their threat of root rot, they didn’t remove it. The identical elements that predispose a low elevation website to illness are nonetheless current — they’re merely much less widespread. Additionally, these growers incurred a special set of site-related issues. Excessive elevation local weather could be extreme. Timber are at higher threat of being whipped by sturdy winds, crushed by hail, or pruned by late spring freezes. Nicely-drained high-elevation soils can change into excessively dry throughout droughts. Excessive-elevation natural soils have completely different fertility points that require individualized administration. These potential issues are usually not insurmountable and don’t take the land out of Christmas tree manufacturing as PRR would, however can enhance manufacturing prices and rotation size.

Farmers have at all times “learn the lay of the land” to find out good websites for his or her crops. That is particularly vital for Fraser fir, the place small modifications in soil drainage could make a giant distinction within the improvement of PRR. Landscapes (visually offered in topographical maps) vary between concave areas that acquire water and convex areas that shed water. Search for and keep away from planting any hollows, gullies, ravines, or dips that point out intermittent streams or drainage areas. Adjustments in vegetation can point out modifications in soil kind or drainage and is usually a great tool in studying panorama. Rushes usually point out moist areas. Patches of inexperienced grass in winter additionally mirror moist areas that don’t freeze.

Observe any depressions or sunken areas on slopes that traditionally are the results of earth-slides or tree-falls. These small areas may have subsoil on the floor and poorer drainage than surrounding soils. Buildup on the decrease fringe of considered one of these areas can operate like a dam to carry again or inhibit water drainage. Any of those micro-sites can change into future Phytophthora downside areas.

Whereas evaluating the panorama, it is usually vital to notice any tree strains that can create shade alongside the sides of fields. Tree borders or different panorama options that limit air circulation will enhance humidity and irritate ailments like gray mould (Botrytis shoot blight) or pests equivalent to hemlock rust mite. The identical options can hinder the drainage of chilly air from decrease parts of a area making the positioning extra vulnerable to frost harm. Slope modifications, concave areas or dips, ravines or hollers, streams, and bottomland all have the potential to be a frost pocket. Remember to take into account panorama options past the property line that will affect your fields.

Slope and water drainage should be thought-about rigorously when deciding on a website. Most Fraser fir in North Carolina are planted on sloping land as a result of it drains higher than flat land. Water strikes slowly out of flat land which might stay saturated lengthy sufficient for Phytophthora root rot to get began. Nonetheless, sloping land doesn’t assure website for Fraser fir, neither is flat land at all times dangerous.

The place of a website in relation to water circulation is essential. Flat land could be properly drained on a mountain high or be very moist on the foot of a slope the place water collects from the watershed above it. Sloping land close to the underside of any hill, near floor water, or above any characteristic that cuts or compacts soil can have the next water desk and be slower to empty than unimpeded slopes. It’s also vital to do not forget that water drainage happens each alongside the grade of the slope and internally within the pore area of the soil. A very good website should be properly drained in each methods.

Keep away from extreme slopes throughout the website being thought-about for Christmas timber. Steep slopes are troublesome to work. A tree should develop an additional 12 months or two to have the horizontal area to provide a uniform whorl of backside branches. Additional, many timber grown on steep slopes have uneven budset from side-to-side in response to uneven mild ranges. Ensuing variation in development and tree density could be sufficient to cut back timber’ marketable grade and add further time to area rotations as growers work to appropriate defects. Mild to average slopes have a tendency to not have these issues.

Soil traits for a possible website should be evaluated completely not only for nutrient standing but in addition for soil bodily properties. Many growers take a floor soil pattern (0-Four inches) for nutrient evaluation. Extra deeper samples of 4-Eight inches and even 12-20 inches will point out what timber have to attract on in periods of moisture stress. Soil experiences present indication of the quantity and sort(s) of lime and fertilizer wanted to supply optimum fertility for Fraser fir development. A number of nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, or pH imbalances ought to be “pink flags” for choosing that website. The method of amassing soil samples additionally supplies indication of topsoil shade, texture (quantity of sand, silt, and clay), and compaction. Whereas there isn’t a “proper” topsoil, darker, loamy, and fewer compacted soils typically are good.

For a extra thorough dialogue on taking soil samples and decoding their outcomes learn Soil Testing and Interpretation of Outcomes for Christmas Tree Plantations.

Merely wanting on the floor soils will not be sufficient, nevertheless. Utilizing a shovel or ideally a soil auger, decide the depth of topsoil and subsoil. Mountain soils will range from 20 to 60 inches to bedrock. Deeper soils will typically present extra water and vitamins throughout dry intervals and supply a higher depth of aerated soils in the course of the moist intervals than will shallow soils. Shallow topsoils won’t maintain extra intensive website preparation or tillage practices that may end up in both erosion or compaction. As acknowledged earlier, the soil survey carried out by the NCSU Fraser Fir Activity Pressure in 1999-2000 confirmed a really sturdy hyperlink between the incidence of Phytophthora root rot and the presence of shallow soils.

By wanting on the soil profile it is best to get a sign of water drainage, depth of the basis zone, and a few of the tillage choices which can be possible on that website. The convenience with which the opening is dug can inform you how a lot rock is current and the way compacted the soil is. Pay specific consideration to any arduous layer which may inhibit the drainage of floor soils equivalent to a plow pan or clay layer. Study the construction of the subsoil. A soil with small clods or a granular construction may have extra pore area and air for optimum root development than a blockier, extra clayey soil. If the subsoil has a good clayey construction, no quantity of tillage, subsoiling, or amendments will alter it over the lifetime of a ten-year crop rotation of Fraser fir. If a soil has been compacted, it might require many years to regain pore area and inner drainage.

Soil shade is usually a great tool in figuring out the suitability of a website for Christmas tree manufacturing.

Darkish topsoils have extra natural matter than mild topsoils. Darker subsoils (brown or pink) are often extra fertile than light-colored subsoils (yellow or white) and can usually have higher capability to carry vitamins. Over the lifetime of a Christmas tree crop, this will characterize very completely different wants for lime and fertilizer in addition to the magnatude of nutrient issues that happen. Darkish soils will nonetheless have nutrient deficiencies that require common soil sampling to establish.

Be aware of any grey spots within the subsoil. Gray shade in clays signifies extended water saturation and, very possible, a excessive water desk. Some slopes may have channels of grey-mottled soil at intervals throughout a area. These are factors the place water strikes by way of the soil like a subsurface stream. Gray mottling is a robust precursor for Phytophthora root rot.

When analyzing a reddish soil, don’t assume that the colour signifies a excessive clay content material. Purple shade extra appropriately signifies iron content material with out immediately equivalent to the quantity of clay within the soil. Some reddish subsoils are very well-drained whereas others are poorly-drained clays. If a soil is moist, you may estimate clay content material by squeezing a ribbon between your thumb and fingers. Clayey soils will make an extended and smoother ribbon than loamy soils. After all, your county soil survey can present a way more precise estimation of soil texture.

It’s useful to again up visible observations of soil and panorama with the descriptions out of your county soil survey. On-line variations of the soil survey can be found in addition to printed copies. Discover your area location on the soil maps. Observe the modifications in soil kind that happen throughout the website. Soil varieties usually observe modifications in facet and/or slope. Observe the vary in clay content material. These areas in a area that characterize the excessive finish of clay content material may very well be extra problematic. Learn every soil class description, paying specific notice to the completely different administration pointers for every kind. The extent of disturbance {that a} soil can maintain at a specific slope will range broadly for various soil varieties. Fraser fir is far more delicate to modifications in clay content material and moisture than the key crops mentioned in most soil surveys.

Earlier than 2005, NC county soil surveys had been periodically up to date and printed in a rotating cycle. Now, up to date soil surveys can be found on-line from the USDA Pure Useful resource Conservation Service. The interactive web site could be very informative when you discover ways to use it. Working from interactive satellite tv for pc maps you may view your property and overlay several types of soil and website info. To get began, go to the USDA’s Soil Survey.

Farmers have at all times used present vegetation as a software to guage the suitability of a website for a crop. Broom sedge is an indicator of low pH and/or low phosphorus. Rushes and sedges can point out moist areas in a area that may very well be an issue. Outdated apple timber can harbor different species of Phytophthora root rot that may kill newly planted Fraser fir. Nonetheless, issues at previous apple orchards have typically declined over time not like the basis rot illness from Phytophthora cinnamomi, which stays within the soil completely.

When evaluating the soils and panorama of a website you will need to additionally search for present or potential pest issues.

There’s a seen document of vegetation at nearly any time of 12 months whether or not it’s rising, blooming, going to seed, or merely a weathered skeleton of final 12 months’s development. After all, most herbaceous weeds, shrubs, and timber can be most straightforward to establish in late summer season or fall after they have gone to seed. A document of dominant and downside weeds made throughout website inspection can be utilized to direct future weed administration methods. In actual fact, growers will usually goal sure perennial issues that may be handled extra aggressively throughout website preparation within the absence of Christmas timber.

Tree of heaven is a noxious invasive weed that deserves particular consideration when contemplating a website for Christmas timber. Whereas the tree is a nuisance itself, it’s a favourite host of Noticed Lanternfly, a brand new invasive insect pest presently spreading into neighboring Virginia. By killing the host tree earlier than the insect arrives in NC, Christmas tree growers might maintain the brand new insect out of their fields. For identification and life cycle info of the Noticed Lanternfly, view the Noticed Lanternfly publication from NCDA&CS Plant Trade Division.

White grubs are an occassional pest of Christmas timber that may be discovered and recognized in the course of the website choice course of. They’re most straightforward to search out in previous pastures in summer season and fall. Really useful monitoring includes sifting by way of soil from 5 holes of roughly one cubic foot every from throughout a area. Checking previous pastures previous to planting can permit a grower to implement a management technique earlier than transplants are broken throughout their first 12 months. For extra info on figuring out and controlling white grubs, learn Grubs & Different Root Feeding Pests.

One other pest that may sometimes injury new plantings is the pales weevil. If mature pines are being harvested close-by the summer season or fall earlier than Christmas timber are to be set, a migration of weevils can happen. The weevils will feed on the stems of Christmas timber of all sizes, however can girdle and kill younger timber.

These eventualities point out that even throughout preliminary website analysis, pest administration is a essential concern.

All website elements that contribute to optimum Fraser fir development should be met in a specific location. Nonetheless, a number of farm administration points ought to be thought-about as properly. The positioning ought to match the meant scale of manufacturing. Farm gear, notably tractors with tree planting machines or sprayers, should be capable of operate for the sphere measurement, turnout areas, and terrain. Farm location, street accessibility, and harvest season entry are essential to preserving manufacturing prices low. The price of further street building is usually a main ongoing expense and disadvantage for some websites. Thieves could also be drawn to a number of entry factors or restricted visibility that may make gear and tree theft straightforward. It is perhaps a helpful train to contemplate a brand new website from a thief’s perspective.If neighbors dwell near the property line, pesticide use or different actions can change into factors of battle. Growers have maintained buffers or planted screens simply to maintain the peace. Making investments to handle any of those administration elements may very well be justified for manufacturing website, however they’ll tip the stability towards websites with marginal soils or panorama options.

Each present roads and any new street building are essential facets of Christmas tree farms and suitability of the placement for Fraser fir. That is true for farm roads in addition to public roads that border fields. Most farmers measure the standard of their roads by the size of time that may move between upkeep. Failures could be costly within the want for extra grading, gravel, or building. Nonetheless, the best affect from a badly constructed farm street is commonly the mortality of Fraser fir Christmas timber killed by stormwater and subsequent Phytophthora root rot.

Poorly constructed roads completely alter the motion of water in lots of Christmas tree fields. Fairly often, the presence of a street will elevate the water desk uphill from the street. When street building cuts throughout the soil profile, circulation of water within the soil is impeded by the bodily break in soil pores. Water will again up within the soil. A zone of saturated soils will exist above the street that’s much less appropriate for Fraser fir than the remainder of the sphere. This is the reason PRR will usually present up proper above a street minimize. Keep away from making street cuts except slope and visitors make it a necessity.

Additional, roads acquire and transfer floor water. Typically it’s muddy and contaminated with the spores of PRR introduced in from one other website. With out cautious planning and ditch building, runoff will circulation right into a tree area. This creates supreme circumstances for PRR to change into established beneath a street. That is very true of wider public roads that produce extra floor runoff than a typical farm street. Too usually, this happens on the high of a area the place illness can unfold downhill and kill a swath of timber. To keep away from this, runoff should be directed away from Fraser fir manufacturing areas to area borders. Correct water administration might require a big rock-lined ditch to deal with storm water. For roads to be an asset, growers should rigorously take into account their affect on water motion and plan accordingly.

Presence of a public street above a Christmas tree area ought to be thought-about a severe strike towards utilizing that website for Fraser fir manufacturing. Search for drainage culverts that acquire water from ditches on the opposite aspect of a street. Think about how water might circulation into the sphere from any hills or dips within the street above a website. Don’t plant timber in attracts or drainages that acquire runoff from a street. Timber planted in these areas will die.

For added info, overview associated articles within the street building part of the NC State College Christmas tree portal.

Even farms which can be good websites for Fraser fir may have areas that aren’t appropriate for Christmas tree manufacturing. Many of those non-crop areas can nonetheless be vitally vital for very particular makes use of.

The perimeters of some moist or concave areas can be utilized as roads or harvest staging areas. They could require draining or filling for use in all seasons. Remember to overview water high quality rules earlier than altering any streambanks. The Pure Useful resource Conservation Service can present steering in utilizing marginal areas and developing stream buffers.

Some shady hollows could also be appropriate for tree storage yards, notably northern facets which can be near water. Flat areas on the backside of lengthy north-facing slopes will also be used as storage areas. These water and air drainage areas can usually be 10 to 20 levels cooler than surrounding areas.

After all, bigger areas of flat land that aren’t appropriate for Fraser fir could also be supreme for different crops and will present a chance for diversification. Small areas may very well be used for different functions equivalent to or helpful insect or wildlife meals plots.

  • County soil survey
  • Soil take a look at report
  • Soil sampling tube and bucket to take soil samples and soil pattern containers
  • Soil auger or shovel to guage subsoil
  • Shovel to pattern for grubs

Website choice for Fraser fir manufacturing should contain consideration of a variety of things. Every website may have a singular mixture of strengths and weaknesses. Components that contribute to Phytophthora root rot are of main concern, however manufacturing and enterprise administration points should even be thought-about.

  • Elevations between 2,500 and 4,000 toes present a goal vary the place optimum local weather and soil circumstances could be discovered. Greater elevation websites have publicity and accessibility issues. Decrease elevation websites might have tight soils with an excessive amount of clay and be too scorching for optimum Fraser fir development.
  • Facet (the path which a area faces) is especially vital on low-elevation websites. South- and southwest-facing websites have larger soil temperatures and sometimes the next clay content material than different facets on the identical elevation. On marginal websites, southern facets might irritate survival and development issues.
  • Panorama or topography can point out small modifications in drainage that may predispose an space to Phytophthora root rot. Drainage areas, dips, or depressions in fields shouldn’t be planted in Fraser fir. Adjustments in facet, slope, or vegetation can point out modifications in soil kind. Additionally notice shaded areas and potential frost pockets.
  • Average slopes don’t assure website. Nicely-drained websites depend upon each good inner soil drainage and motion of water down the slope. Look past slope to soil traits and panorama place.
  • Soil testing supplies important info for present nutrient standing and corrective nutrient functions wanted to optimize development.
  • Depth of topsoil and subsoil can point out a lot concerning the productiveness of a website. Shallow soils (20 inches or much less to bedrock) have much less water and vitamins throughout droughts, an excessive amount of water throughout moist spells, and no reserve of topsoil to compensate for erosion or compaction.
  • By analyzing the soil profile with a soil auger, you may establish potential rockiness, plow pans, clay layers, or drainage issues. If there are main issues within the subsoil, no quantity of tillage, subsoiling, or fertilizer will enhance the positioning for the whole rotation of a crop of Fraser fir Christmas timber.
  • Soil shade can establish sure website traits. Darkish subsoils are usually extra fertile than mild subsoils. Gray mottling signifies poor drainage. Purple shade signifies iron, not clay (however clay soils may include iron).
  • Use maps and soil class descriptions within the county soil survey to verify area observations.
  • Take a look at the positioning with pest administration in thoughts and monitor for weeds and grubs.
  • Enterprise, logistics, and administration elements should be thought-about in deciding on a website, however Fraser fir development elements are paramount.

Space Extension Specialist (Christmas Timber)
Forestry & Environmental Sources

Discover extra info on the following NC State Extension web sites:

Publication date: Jan. 1, 2004
Revised: April 1, 2020

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment no matter age, shade, incapacity, household and marital standing, gender id, nationwide origin, political opinions, race, faith, intercourse (together with being pregnant), sexual orientation and veteran standing.

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