Forests continue to require attention throughout their early development, from establishment through to the stage where a satisfactory crop begins to form. On-going inspections and maintenance are required to ensure the development of good quality forest crops.
The main issues to be addressed during this period are:
- Survival: replanting any dead trees to ensure that there are an adequate number of live, healthy trees in place to form a good quality crop
- Nutritional deficiencies: monitoring the crop for any signs of nutrient deficiency (e.g. yellowing of conifer needles) and applying fertilisers based on laboratory tests of the foliage and/or soil.
- Competing Vegetation: controlling vegetation that continues to compete with the trees, particularly with broadleaves.
- Damages: Protecting the crops against the many agents that can cause damage such as:
- Frost: Replacing dead trees with more frost resistant species where serious mortalities occur.
- Fire: Planning against fires which are a problem in young plantations in the spring months of March and April and controlling any outbreaks.
- Animals: Ensuring that fences are well maintained to keep out trespassing animals.
- Pests and diseases: monitoring crops for any outbreaks that may occur and taking appropriate action. Irish forests are relatively free of pests and diseases and apart from protecting plants against the large pine weevil few actions are generally required.
5. Other issues: include the maintenance of silt traps to ensure that they continue to work effectively and prevent sediment from entering watercourses. Also the maintenance of fire lines around plantations to prevent the spread of fire from adjacent land.