As I approached the decandling season this year, I checked my pines to see if any were on the weak side but still strong enough to be decandled. These trees need to be decandled on the early side so the summer growth has time to fill in before fall. Looking around I saw a lot of full pines, but I remembered that the trees weren’t all strong in winter. This was definitely the case with my red pine forest.
Red pine group planting – May 29
Although the growth looks roughly balanced here, I remembered that the tree looked quite different in winter.
Red pine, January 11 – the trees on the right are much stronger than the trees on the left
I decandled these trees on the late side last year as they were very strong the previous year. I also pulled lots of needles, but only from the trees on the left as I didn’t have time to get to the needles on the two right-hand trees before they started growing in spring. The result was vigorous growth on the right-hand trees and not much growth on the other trees. This became obvious in spring when the new shoots elongated.
Spring growth – April 13
Vigorous growth on the right hand trees
Modest growth on the left hand trees
The goal for this year is to restore balance to the planting. To do that, I decandled the weak trees before I decandled the strong trees. I started with the center tree and the first tree on the left at the end of May.
After decandling the first two trees – May 30
10 days later I decandled the trees with moderate growth.
After decandling the two pines on the left – June 9
I decandled the two strongest trees last.
After decandling the last two trees – June 17
After all of the trees were decandled, it was clear there were still far more needles on the two right-hand trees. To slow these trees down a bit, I pulled some needles so there would be a comparable number of needles on all five trees.
After pulling needles from the two right-hand trees
Weather and after care will determine how the trees fill in this summer. In the meantime, the tree will stay in full sun, get lots of water, and get an increasing amount of fertilizer through summer.
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