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Treacodactyl

New coppice question

If you have a square block of trees and wish to coppice the area over a number of years where do you start? I.e. if it was divided into four, NW, NE, SW, SE, would you start on a southern block so the coppice grew up in full sun and then do the northern blocks in subsequent years? Would the southern blocks new growth become a shade problem for the northern blocks?
Mistress Rose

If you can divide it neatly into 4 the theoretical way of cutting it is to do diagonally opposite blocks in successive years. Yes, there will be shading of one block however you cut it, but if you start with one of the southern blocks, by the time you get to the northern block behind it, it won't have grown enough to cause too much shading. The first northern block to be cut may suffer some, and this may affect the speed of regrowth a bit, but not as much as trees like beech and sycamore.
Treacodactyl

It's 20 year (but not that tall) alder. Would you recommend cutting large blocks every other year or smaller blocks every year?
Hairyloon

Do you have to do it as blocks?
I can see that it may make for easier felling, but would it make for a better woodland to have a range of tree sizes?
Treacodactyl

Coppicing does end up with a range of tree sizes, just in blocks. I may choose to leave a few standards.

I'm not talking a huge area so it'll need to be cut in blocks to get a reasonable amount of light at the ground for the flora down there to thrive.

I'll also cut hazel in blocks so it's easier to protect from browsing. Other areas of the woodland are CCF.
sean

CCF?
Hairyloon

Continuous Cover Forestry.
sean

Thanks.
Mistress Rose

I would suggest cutting in blocks as it makes protection easier and you get enough light for the flora, as you say. Unless you don't have deer where you are, you will need some sort of deer fencing round the hazel coppice. Afraid I don't know anything about alder though.

You don't have to conform to the exact theoretical plan. As long as you have other tree and shrub cover next to your plots, you could do the two southern coups first then the two northern ones. Alder should grow quite quickly, so after the first year the new growth should be several feet high.

I would suggest coups no larger than 1 acre, but 1/2 or even 1/4 acre plots are not too bad. Much smaller than that and you won't have a large enough area for the light to get in. I suggest doing one plot a year for hazel, as it has about a 7 year rotation. As I said, I don't know a lot about alder, but if you are expecting to cut it when it gets to firewood size (about 3" dia minimum) then you could either do one small coup a year or a larger one every other year as I would expect something like a 20 year rotation (?).

Once you have your coppice in rotation, hazel needs to be kept there by cutting every 7 years as it will improve each rotation. Longer rotation crops are not so critical.
Treacodactyl

Thanks for that, very helpful. It's not a large patch of alder so it'll probably get cut in 4-5 clumps at most.

Yes there is lots of venison about but alder is meant to be one of the most deer resistant trees. I've felled a couple over the last few years and the new growth has been left; ash, oak, willow and hazel on the other hand are all browsed.

I could do with a good book on coppicing as there's not that much info about. I know alder with throw up a large number of new shoots but i don't know if I should just leave them to out compete each other or to select the best ones after a year or two and prune out the others.
Mistress Rose

The new shoots tend to sort themselves out. Those that don't get enough light tend to die, and the others grow on. You will have to see how you get on with deer; if you have a large area cut, they may decide to go for it, or they may not go for alder at all. As I said, I don't know much about it. I assume the area the alder is in is quite wet too. Deer may prefer the harder ground as they can make a faster get away.

Hampshire County Council published a book a good few years ago about coppice, and a more recent one has been written by Rebecca Oaks, but afraid I can't remember the names of either off hand. If you need further information, I will look into it for you.
Treacodactyl

I know the shoots on hazel sort themselves out, often you'll see strong ones and a few weak ones dying off in the first season. However, the alder I've coppiced just seems to throw up a huge number of similar shoots. I'll take a closer look now the leaves have dropped but if I want firewood rather than thin poles I do wonder if some pruning would help.

As for the deer, they love the alder woodland, wet soil and all. They just munch the shrubs and herbs about the place and leave the alder. It is know as a deer resistant tree but I will keep an eye on it just in case.
Mistress Rose

You could try thinning on some trees to see if you get better results over a few years, then if it works, do it on the others if they continue to have lots of very thin sticks. That is the thing with woodland work; everything is in the trees time not ours. Very Happy
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