Late frosts can do severe damage to young woodlands, requiring formative shaping or even replanting
Severe winter colds will rarely damage trees in Ireland, but late spring and early summer frosts can be very detrimental.
Landowners who planted a forest in the last few years will remember (with dread) the severe late spring frosts of May of 2019, 2020 and 2021.
These frosts happened at the worst possible time, as they coincided with young trees putting on new growth.
Both broadleaf and conifer trees were affected, particularly young oak and Sitka spruce, resulting in the new foliage being ‘burnt’ and appearing blackened and/or dead.
In most cases, young trees will survive and re-flush later in the season.
However, the impact on future timber quality of severely damaged trees can be substantial.
Damage to the side shoots is not as serious as damage to the leading shoot, which will result in the tree forking from that point on; failure to correct this will severely affect their future shape.
Where damage to young trees is particularly severe, replanting may be required.
If damage is less severe, formative shaping may be an option.
Frost damage becomes less of a problem as the trees get taller.
A Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme has been introduced by the Department of Agriculture to assist private forest owners who experienced tree losses of more than 30pc.
This scheme aims to reconstitute newly planted forests significantly damaged by the frost events of 2019, 2020 and 2021 by replacing dead trees with plants of acceptable quality, provenance and species.
The scheme also provides assistance to prune damaged trees where damage is significant but not severe enough to warrant full replacement of stems.
Private forest owners who planted between November 1, 2017 and June 1, 2021 and whose entire forests sustained a minimum of 30pc losses are eligible to apply.
This scheme is cost-based — this means that evidence of costs expended and receipts for items bought must be retained and produced on the request of the Department.
Maximum grant rates are set out in the table below.
The closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, April 29.
All grant payments may be subject to inspections before and after planting to ensure that plant losses declared are correct and that they subsequently have been replaced.
8,200 forest owners have already received their very welcome 2022 forestry premium (totalling €29m) Minister of State Pippa Hackett recently confirmed.
If you haven’t applied yet for this year’s forestry premium, you want to do so as soon as possible. The sooner you apply, the sooner you’ll be paid.
All forestry premium applications must be applied for online via www.agfood.ie
If you forgot your username or password or you can’t log on, the Department’s helpdesk (phone 049-4368288, email firstname.lastname@example.org) will be able to help you.
Forestry Division staff won’t be able to help you with usernames or passwords but they can assist with forestry premium queries.
They can be contacted on 053-9163400. Make sure to have your forestry Contract Number (CN) and/or Forest Owner (FO) number to hand.
For more detail how to apply, see www.teagasc.ie/forestry
Steven Meyen is a Teagasc forestry development officer based in Co Donegal