A recent revisit to the Quilliam property at Smithton to do some pruning was time well spent. All up about 7 hours was spent selecting and pruning the best of the blackwoods in the two block plantings (see initial report). These trees have now been marked and pruned to remove large limbs, trim side branches and remove multiple leaders. These selected trees will receive weed control over the coming weeks as the ground begins to dry out. Oh yes! The new pair of gumboots definitely came in handy. Despite the heavy grass competition some of the trees are showing very vigorous apical growth. There was also some evidence of wattle grub which was a surprise in this wet environment. It will definitely be interesting to revisit these trees in 12 months time for an inspection and annual pruning.
In 12 months time some of the block-planted blackwood will be reaching crown closure, which will be useful in limiting side branch growth and encouraging height growth. It will also mean weed growth will start to slow.
As for the single-row windbreak blackwoods, closer inspection found too few trees suitable for pruning that it wasn’t worth the effort. The combination of exposure to wind and the extraordinary weed growth has meant that these trees are struggling to grow. They will produce an excellent windbreak eventually, but no timber production. Mixing wood production with windbreak objectives is difficult even in good conditions and generally requires multiple-row shelterbelts. On the swampy flats of Circular Head it would be a real challenge.