Because of the unpredictable weather March is a strange month for jobs. There is so much to do but if it is very wet or covered in snow many of the essential jobs will have to wait, so..... 
Photos taken by Jan and John on one of their cycle rides, which took them past some of our more mature trees on Willinghurst Estate.  
Instead of being able to prepare the plantations for planting there are lots of jobs which need doing to the more mature trees already growing in the fields. On the rare sunny dry days the boys have been out handling the trees, carrying on from February. Hans and Paul have been doing some extra work on some of the trees where the branches are a little uneven in places or the leaders are too long. 
The first video shows the situation where this technique would be beneficial to the tree. In the second video Hans explains what has been done to the tree to create branches in a different position, in this case it will create a ring of branches growing further up the leader. 
By using a plastic device called a branch adjuster or branchguide on the trees it encourages individual branches to grow in a different direction. This is particularly useful where the leader has broken and the branch adjusters hold up a branch from the top whorl which will hopefully grow to replace the leader. The pictures below show various situations where these guides and adjusters come into play.  
The picture above shows a Christmas tree with no leader. This could have been snapped off by birds. The second picture shows the branch adjuster holding a branch up from below. This will remain in place until the branch grows straight up by itself. 
This method can also be used to train branches to fill in gaps in a whorl, giving the appearance of a more even tree. See the picture below left.  
The picture above is an arial view of the formation of a new leader. 
Finally we are all holding our breath for the warmer weather so the transplants can be lifted from the nursery and we can start to get them planted. 
Join us next month when Paul will hopefully get the calm dry conditions he needs so he can start to fertilise the trees. 
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