This was the year that it seemed like most of the ash trees in the Shenandoah Valley (VA, USA) got girdled by the emerald ash borer. We had our backyard Fraxinus pennsylvanica (likely a weed/volunteer, decades ago) cut down last year and now it’s sprouting up around the stump perimeter.
Or should I say, around the “stool,” if I’m talking about maintaining the tree as a coppice. Is this doable, or will EAB start working on the smaller stuff after they are done with the big trees? Advice appreciated if anyone has experience!
Well, from my forestry education (I am still in HS), the ash has a good chance of dying one it gets larger. However, nothing can be said for sure.
Maybe you can leave it, just as a experiment? If it is prone to EAB, then it probably wont live longer than 5 years or so. I got a White Ash in my backyard that is about 40 feet in height and a foot in diameter at BH that has somehow avoided EAB while its neighbors have died. I hope it lives on!
Oh, also, VERY IMPORTANT. When cutting dead ash trees that are tall or large, use EXTREME CAUTION. The dead ones are often reffered to as “Widow Makers”, as, if you use a simple chainsaw to cut the trunk, the vibrations of the saw can cause huge chunks of the wood to come tumbling down. That is why most loggers have to wait until the dead ash NATURALLY fall by the wind, snow, etc…
I’m in Winnipeg MB - we are only starting to get EAB. I have seen sprouts around Ash that were cut for other reasons. They may last a season or two, but they are on city boulevards, and we have a colder, dryer climate than you do. That’s my only experience!
The ~5 years aspect is the interesting part. I’m assuming the larvae need a large enough diameter to get enough cambium for their needs. In theory, the new coppice stems could be harvested just shy of the “tasty now” diameter. If it’s like 4-5 years per harvest, that could still give me enough wood to do stuff with, and still maybe keep the tree alive under the EAB radar.
Meanwhile, in the last several years the tree fruited heavily and there are now daughter seedlings and saplings all down the hill from the main tree. I was originally going to leave some of those as an EAB aftermath experiment before thinking about coppicing. If anyone has advice about residual ash saplings and EAB I’ll take that too.
It’s weird that just a few years ago these saplings were just “in the way” in the yard, and now they’ll be more like a DNA reservoir for an endangered species!
I remember hearing once that ashes only last in the seed bank for 40-50 years, so we’d see seedlings in the understory for a few decades but eventually they’d disappear. I never verified that though; curious if anyone can confirm or deny? Like maybe they can get large enough to produce a few seeds and keep the cycle going.
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