Cherry Tree Research for Hardwood Crop alongside Willow


Gurteen College has given permission for the planting of 450 cherry trees of 22 different varieties, around half of the 31 Hectare field of willow, following spraying two rows of willow to allow the new crop to establish – the crop is wild cherry to produce high value hard wood after 40years.

Dr Gerry Douglas an employee of Teagasc in The Forestry Development Unit explained that these cherry trees are part of an European Trial on Agro-forestry with coppicing bio-mass, other trials in Europe have involved different species of trees i.e. poplar.

This is an experiment to observe the interaction of cherry and willow as they develop two canopies to catch the sunlight instead of a mono crop and fixing Carbon, the filtered light being just as beneficial, trading off wider plant spacing thus without diminishing the yield of the coppice crop. The 22 varieties will be assessed for the best performance variety for Ireland as has been developed elsewhere in Europe, so in comparison to control material in England and Ireland.

Rory Lunny is a Walsh Fellow on the same Teagasc programme, who is developing his PhD around this experiment, observing other cherry at Lough Gal, just outside Armagh, with AFBI.

The wild cherry crop can be susceptible to canker, it is protected by tubex against rabbits and hares, also spray from weed control around the plants. Weed control is required for the first 5 years. There is a need to prune off the side branches to prevent knots in the end product. So the ideal finished trees will be 7-8metres tall being 30cms min. diameter at breast height.

The Gurteen site offers three locations with differing sunlight, soil, aspect and shelter levels. With 22 varieties on trial and differing conditions there will be a wealth of research opportunity on this innovative approach to the management of these crops, literally side by side.




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