I recently had the good fortune to join a group hosted by the foresters at Landvest near Kane, PA for a walk and talk in the woods.  There were 8 of us in total, from Landvest, PSU Cooperative Extension, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, and Cotton-Hanlon. Beech is a nice species, but due to the confluence of invasive insect & fungus, the tree interferes with other species and a multitude of ownership objectives.  The question at hand, as a general context for the gathering, was to consider various strategies to control American beech as part of the ongoing effort to regenerate black cherry and other desired species in support of a diverse and productive forest.

Ultimately I'm interested in knowing some of the questions that have come to the minds of folks who struggle with beech.  A few questions and possible solutions are below, but I would be interested in hearing from others.  We may be able to develop some research projects to explore new strategies.

Some of the issues that complicate the regeneration process:

  • Beech is often present in multiple size classes so the control methods that work for one size class are not effective in other size classes.
  • Treatments of beech before the seed-cut (often a shelterwood or seed tree system) don't account for the abundance of grasses and pin cherry that emerge after the harvest.
  • Treatment of beech after the seed-cut may have negative impacts on advance regeneration of desired seedlings.
  • Beech may be patchy in the stand, or age classes clustered, complicating the uniformity of treatments.
  • Some treatment options are quite expensive.

Here are some of the potential strategies, without any assurances, and needing additional research

  • Assess the flash of hack and squirt into root suckers under different conditions of stand history.  (see link for video1 and video 2)
  • Consider a low concentration of Garlon 4 in oil as a basal bark treatment.  Dave Jackson has some data on this and the prospects look favorable.
  • Try seeding skid trails and landings to a dense non-spreading and non-reporoductive grass to prevent development of the more permanent and spreading grass swards.
  • Fence small areas to assess the relative impacts of deer versus interfering vegetation.  Vegetation control may be working and the deer may be the limiting factor.
  • Try thin line or limited circumference applications of Garlon 4 in basal oil on smaller diameter stems.  The concentration of Garlon 4 may be important.
  • Apply treatments selectively to areas within the stand based on the size class of the beech; find contractors who can customize the application method based on need.
  • High stump the beech.  This may reduce stump sprouts and may or may not effect root sprouting.  If stump sprouts form, (and they likely will), the sprouts may not have longevity if the stump rots from beneath it.
  • Try using Garlon 4 in a commercially available vegetable oil (e.g., peanut or canola), and try with varying concentrations.  As a note, at least in NY, it is fully legal for an agricultural pesticide (i.e., herbicide) application to be at below label rates. 

So, what strategies have you considered?

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