Updated 15 Nov 2006

Planting a new oakwood in Dorset

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Oaks and Oakwoods

Extracts from: "Oaks and Oak Woods" by A.G.Tansley FRS published by Field Study Books 1952.
These extracts were taken as useful tips for growing the oakwood at Bear mead Plantation.

  1. Factors responsible for abundant acorn production: hot dry summer in the preceeding year, and absence of severe frosts in May

  2. The primary root, which will become the tap-root of the tree, emerges from the pointed end of the acorn and grows straight down.

  3. Current Forestry practice is to 'dry off' the acorns after production in autumn to prevent'heating' or premature germination, and then store them under conditions which allow their surfaces to remain slightly moist till they are sown in Feb or March at a depth of 2" to 2.5". The pointed end of the acorn must be covered with damp soils for germination to take place.

  4. Seedling oaks are very commonly attacked by oak mildew. Many survive the attack, but (especially when the saplings are growing in shaded places) the mildew may cause the leaves to wilt, and after attemots to produce new foliage, which is immediately attacked by the parasite, the seedling dies.

  5. Oaks grow slowly at first. Under good conditions the saplings are only about four feet high at ten years of age. After that the rate of growth increases and a good plantation forty years old should be forty feet high.

  6. After the terminal buds of the branches have grown out in May to form the long leafy shoots, and the leaves have expanded, the tips of the shoots stop growing toward the end of the month or in June, and pass into a resting state. They remain dormant for about a month or more and some of them then grow out again to form further shoots called lammas shoots, which are very characteristic of oaks. These lammas shoots are often actually longer than the spring shoots. Sometimes, as on coppiced oaks, they are repeated three or four times in one year on each growing long branch. Only vigorous long branches form lammas shoots.

  7. Waterlogging of the soil, because it seriously diminshes the supply of free oxygen, excludes the roots of most trees.The oaks can stand a certain amount, but not if the waterlogging is permanent. Because of their deep tap-roots oaks do not make good trees on very shallow soil where the tap-toots cannot penetrate deeply....

  8. In the midlands and eastern England the rainfall is lower and the air drier than in the west, and extensive drainage of the soil, partly surface drainage for agriculture and largely as the result of pumping from deeper levels of vast quantities of water for industrial use, has led during the past half-century to a serious and very widespread lowering of the water table, which has starved the trees of water especially on the lighter soils. Locally the penetration of coal-mining galleries below the old forest areas has drained the whole depth of soil on which the tree roots depend. In North Nottinghamshire, on the light soils of the Bunter sandstone the oaks quickly become "Stag-headed" owing to this cause and it is no longer possible to grow profitable oak timber.

    See Parasites on Oakwoods

Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, encoded, and copyright © 2006, John Palmer, All Rights Reserved.