Carl Mansfield, MLF’s Arboreal Consultant, spent a morning recently with Woodlot Manager Mike Fisher at the MLF farm.
Carl writes: We checked out the Comfort Maple saplings that we planted in May, 2018 and later toured the property with Mike to see if other trees might need our attention.
Mike has been watering the maple saplings trees regularly (it has been hot and dry out there), filling the tree-watering-bags with 40-45 L of water about every 4-5 days for the past several weeks. It takes 4-6 hours for the water to soak into the tree’s root zone.
We did some light pruning on several of the sugar maple saplings, reestablishing a single, dominant leader on a few trees by selecting the strongest central branch to be the leader and shortening or completely removing the remaining competing co-dominant shoots.
We removed a few branches with irregular growth and a few that were rubbing against other branches. Any new branches that were growing on the lower third of the trunk were also removed.
We limited pruning to what was essential for now and will revisit these trees after leaf fall in October. The trees are doing fine under Mike’s care.
Mike had a few questions about a group of larger sugar maple trees that had been planted on the edge of the woodlot, a few years after Ken purchased the property.
While inspecting these trees, we found random clusters of spongy moth caterpillars hidden by the tall grass at the base of many of these trees. We eliminated these and visually inspected the lower crowns for signs of more caterpillars. We found that only a few had managed to climb the trunk and reach the lowest branches. These were also removed. Mike will monitor these trees for the next 2-3 weeks to eliminate this pest.
ADDED NOTE: There are several environmentally friendly products available to homeowners that effectively interrupt the feeding cycle of the spongy moth larvae. Most involve preventing the larvae from climbing up the tree trunk to feed on the leaves. Sticky trap insect barriers are available from many retail suppliers.
MLF rarely recommends commercial products but in this instance, the Tree Banding Kit from Lee Valley Tools is more durable, waterproof and long lasting, outperforming similar products. The Banding material in second photo is not waterproof and falls apart after a few rains (personal experience from using several products).
Closer to the residence, we pruned a young bronze beech tree (150-175 cm) that Ken and Edie brought to the farm as a 30-45 cm seedling, when they returned from a trip to Newfoundland.
It had lost its leader to winter desiccation and had a lot of vigorous lateral growth. We clipped the ends of many of these branches to control their further growth and reserved two of the dominant upper branches to be trained in an upwards position to become a new leader for the tree. The final selection of a leader will be made when growth resumes next spring. The tree now has a nice form and is growing well.
The “rust resistant white elm” seedling that was donated to MLF by our friends at the Guelph Arboretum needed a “haircut” too . We planted it as a 40-45 cm grafted specimen in spring 2015. Like the other trees, it has been well cared for by Mike. It is now 3-4 metres in height with a current year’s growth of more than one meter for 2019. We pruned it to maintain its form, removed a few branches close to the ground and shortened several competing terminal branches. Really looks great now.
A walk along the woodlot edge and around the six acre pond confirmed that Ken’s beaver concerns have diminished with no sightings or evidence of recent beaver activity. What we had mistaken for a beaver causing ripples on the pond turned out to be two painted turtles basking in the sun while enjoying a mid-day swim.
Time well spent.