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Coppice Yield

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by morgantruce, Jul 3, 2009.

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  1. morgantruce

    morgantruce New Member

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    Do you get more wood from a sprouting stump by removing all but one sprout--or by letting multiple sprouts grow?

    It seems a bit silly that I am asking this question at this late stage, but...

    I started a Hybrid Poplar coppice some years ago. Last year I cut a small plot of about 30 trees that were 5-7" at the base, harvesting them for some (fast burning) firewood. I left the stumps sprout naturally--but did mow a kazillion root suckers with my riding mower as I mowed in a checkerboard fashion through the woodlot.

    Presently, there are roughly 6-8 sprouts per stump--pretty bushy. Now I'm wondering if I would have been ahead to prune back to one sprout per stump?

    If you have an opinion, please state whether it is based upon theory or practice: I am finding it very difficult to find anyone with practical experience with this.

    My purpose is to obtain 16-18" lengths of firewood for my wood heating stove. (I am not trying to produce wood pellets or something where every twig would be a plus.) What little information I've come across seems to be geared towards producers of biomass who move through a woodlot grinding up everything is sight for some industrial purpose.

    Next year I have a much larger plot (over 400 trees) that are coming due to be cut.

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  2. Creek-Chub

    Creek-Chub New Member

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    Wish I could help, but here's one to keep this at the top. I'm extremely interested in your answers. Have been considering doing something along these lines for a while, and plan to pull the trigger next year - but thinking black locust instead of poplar.
  3. morgantruce

    morgantruce New Member

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    Yeah, I think Black Locust is a better deal. I set out a bunch of Black Locust--but mostly on a very steep hillside in a quite random manner. My experience with these is that, when you cut the tree, almost nothing comes up from the stump, but instead you get very numerous root suckers coming up (some at amazing distances from the original stump.) This is not a bad way to keep yourself in firewood. My mistake was in setting them on such steep land. I'm not as adventurous with a chainsaw and tractor as I once was...

    I set out these Hybrid Poplars on flat bottom ground-- in rather exact 6x6 and 8x8 foot checkerboard fashion---so I could mow both ways and keep down the brush. (sounds a bit compulsive don't you think?) My point is that I don't think Black Locust would fit into this "neat system"----it much prefers randomness... and I have seen some Black Locust thickets which would be a challenge to harvest---they seem to attract serious brambles as an under-story crop. Of course you could be harvesting firewood and blackberry jam at the same time... Berries I don't mind so much, but I sure don't like running a chain saw when there's green briar all around.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Most Poplars are extremely robust and take well to transplantation. You can cut the saplings off at the base and just stick them into the soil and they will recover. You want to do this early in the Spring before they are fully leafed out.
  5. morgantruce

    morgantruce New Member

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    You can take ANY section of a branch and stick it in the ground and it will grow. I took 400 pieces (1/4" to 1/2" diameter, about 8" long and stuck them into holes punched with a large screwdriver. Only eleven failed to take! This must be done before the buds break and the leaves open. Leave just one bud showing above ground surface. The hardest part of the whole process is making sure you stick the right end of the cutting in the ground. (although I once used pieces of Black Locust as a garden stakes... pounded them in the garden to mark some squash hills... even the ones that were upside down sprouted and started to grow!!!)

    Some talk of taking cuttings in late fall and keeping them refrigerated until Spring... but I just took cuttings in March directly from an existing Hybrid Poplar and put them right into a new plot.

    On my soil, Hybrid Poplars tend to grow about 6-8 feet per year.

    On the first batch I harvested, I cut some in February and the rest in April. When the stumps re-sprouted, the April-cut ones remain only half the size of the February-cut ones---even the following year! Cut early in the season!
  6. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Hybrid poplar is a fast growing mutha!!!!! You may not be able to prevent it from sprouting even after cutting. If it is planted in wet ground I think I wood let several sprouts grow.Let them grow to 6" and cut. Cut very low to ground in winter to promote stump sprout. IMO
  7. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    I can't tell you about poplar but I have had passive experience with American Elm. American elm is subject to Dutch Elm Disease and I have a creek/drainage that has had a few stubborn elms survive at least two passes of the disease. I have cut the dead main trunk down and had several sprouts or suckers come up at the stump. By nearest calculation the sprouts/suckers grow faster than the parent tree because they are feeding from the root mass of the parent tree. If there are enough sprouts it seems they will out produce the parent tree in a given period of time. Unfortunately for me the sprouts all succumb to the disease sooner or later and the number of elm is diminishing. Overall though I think the multiple shoots will produce faster than a single shoot because they will feed the root system which in turn will feed the shoots. Pruning down to one shoot will actually starve part of the root system which will die in the plants actions of "equalizing" it's feeding and storage for next seasons growth. Pruning to three, four or five shoots would probably be better than allowing large numbers of shoots because then the large number will compete heavily for sunlight and the weaker shoots will die out effectively waisting the energy they used for growth.
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    It has been our experience that there will eventually be a few that outgrow the others and then the little ones just quit growing. I hope that made sense.

    We have some hybrid poplars....and I hate them. Oak and ash are two others that gives many new sprouts from the stump. We just let them grow and let Mother Nature take its course. However, if I were doing like you I probably would try trimming some and not trimming others so you have something to compare.
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