We are pleased to report as follows:
Growth & Form
The 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 most all its growth in November, December and January.
Growth Compared to Forecasts
Your Radiata pine is on average, pretty much in line with the StandPak growth models done in 1995 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. Overall it's around 10% smaller than forecast.
We have yet to accurately measure your Douglas-fir stand but it appears to be on target. The trees are healthy and have good form. Possum numbers are very low now.
Pruning, then Thinning
Over the last year Hopefield ('HF1') has been pruned to an average of 5 metres; AH1 & AH2 have had second lifts to 5m and 4.6m respectively; and AH2 has had a first of two thinnings from an average of 1045 stems per hectare to 650. Leslie Hills ('LH2') and Glens of Tekoa ('GT7') will be pruned to 5 to 6 metres this year.
For thinning, the Consultant's advice has been to wait until each stand is fully pruned before thinning it, unless it has high stocking. With high stocking, the unpruned trees may suppress growth of the pruned crop. AH2 had high stocking but none of the rest do, so we will thin each as pruning is completed. This is a change from the original Forestry plan which set thinning to begin earlier.
LH2 is now divided into two stands or 'compartments' relating to tree height, which varies a great deal depending on the exposure to the NW wind. It is anticipated the better stand will be high pruned and thinned this year. The unpruned stand will become a 'framing' regime meaning it remains unpruned and has 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