managing noble fir for production of boughs
How should we manage a crop of noble firs for use as bough material? Someone told us to cut the top off to make more boughs and another person told us not to cut off top but to thin out the trees to let more light in. These noble fir trees are about 8 years old.
Clackamas County Oregon
Your question is a complex one. Ill give you my opinion, knowing that some folks cut tops and try to work off the ground as much as possible.
The key to good bough material is to have healthy branches that receive sunlight on at least 3 sides. So, you likely will need to thin the stand- Perhaps you could do this in conjunction with a bough harvest. I'd also propose you ask the person/company that may purchase your material about the kind of branches they like.
So, you have ample sunlight on the branches (after thinning). Now you can cut back the branches such that you leave buds (branches) that can fill in the cut branches over a few years time (maybe 3-4 years).
The tree is getting taller and shade is increasing. Now you will need to decide how far up the tree you willing to cut- some growers use lifts, some long pole clippers, some growers will keep thinning and some will cut tops.