We are pleased to report as follows:
Growth & Form
The inland North Canterbury weather in the last 12 months has been pretty good from a forest grower's point of view. A mild autumn and winter; a slow cool wet spring; a very wet first half to summer and a moderately dry second half; then a mild, sunny, still autumn. Until the other day! Less wind than average and lots of rain in December have been excellent for growth and form, particularly your Douglas-fir which does most its growth in November, December and January.
Growth Compared to Forecasts
Your Radiata pine is on average, about a year (or 10%) behind the StandPak growth models done in 1994 by the partnership's Consultant, except in one very important respect: We are achieving a significantly better 'DOS' (Diameter Over Stubbs). This is the diameter of the knotty core within the pruned log and it will greatly influence the value of the clearwood log at harvest. It's about 10% smaller than forecast.
Part of the slightly slower height growth to date may be the significant competition from broom until recently, especially in years 3 to 7. That is not factored into the StandPak models.
We have yet to accurately measure the Douglas-fir stands but they seem pretty much on target. They are healthy and have good form. Possum numbers are very low now.
Pruning, now Thinning
With Hopefield ('HF2') completed a year ago, all work has been on Leslie Hills ('LH1') and Glens of Tekoa ('GT1') over the last year, and all of it has been pruning. The Consultant's advice has been to wait until each stand is fully pruned before thinning it, unless it has high stocking. None of the partnership's stands do, so we will thin each as pruning is completed. A lot will be this year.
LH1 is now divided into four stands or 'compartments' and GT1 into three. The divisions relate to tree height. LH1 has two compartments pruned to 5.0 metres and 5.7 metres respectively, totalling 48.5 hectares; a third compartment of 40 hectares pruned to 4.5 metres; and 20 hectares that will remain unpruned. GT1 has one compartment of 12.8 ha pruned to 4.7m; 7.6 ha pruned to 3.4m and a small strip on the western edge that will not be pruned. It is anticipated that at least 60 hectares will be completed this year, i.e. pruned to 5.5 to 6.5 metres and thinned. The rest will be completed early next year. The two unpruned compartments will become 'framing' regimes, which means they remain unpruned and have a higher stocking to suppress branch size. The objective is to grow as much small-knotted material as possible. Knot size is one of the key determinants of the strength of framing timber, and hence its value.
Every pruning lift or thinning carried out is measured and audited by a forest operations manager. (Ours happens to be a Registered Forestry Consultant too, which is handy) Audits show whether the contractor has met quality and quantity specifications and if so, how much actually has been done. That determines payment. The audit reports are available to anyone of you who would like copies.
WARREN FORESTRY Ltd, Manager for the AHF Partnership Committee