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How To Grow Eucalyptus For Timber And Poles

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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Growing eucalyptus well requires good agricultural practices, especially the use of improved seeds, intensive land preparation and thorough weeding.

The main species, E. grandis, will only grow well on suitable sites with good rainfall and deep, fertile soils. High growth rates are achievable only when the optimum farming practices are employed – particularly with regard to thorough land preparation, the use of improved seeds and excellent weed control.

Species Selection

There are a number of suitable eucalyptus species to grow for large-sized poles and timber. With deep, fertile soils and mean annual rainfall of 1250mm, E. grandis will usually perform best.

E. grandis will produce large, straight stems and could be providing you with a good income from two to three years (building poles), large poles by eight years and timber from about 12 years onwards.

There are two species that grow well in hotter, drier areas – E. ca maldulensis and E. tereticornis. They will not produce good saw-timber.

They are more suited for fuel wood production in regions where E. grandis is not suited. Trials have, however, been done on E. cloeziana, E. pellita, E. urophylla, E. dunnii, E.longirostrata and Corymbia citriodora var. variagata (previously E. citriodora). The only local seed source recommended is the National Forestry Authority’s Fort Portal seed stand. Nearly all other local E. grandis seed sources are hybridised and are not pure.

The South African E. grandis seed is usually clean and should produce over one million plants per kilogramme. Most other E. grandis seed will be un-cleaned, with expected seedling yields closer to 100-150,000 per kg. Always check the seed supplier.

Stocking

When growing eucalypts for timber or large poles, the plant stocking (spacing) should not be as dense as for fuelwood and small poles. For fuelwood and small building poles, a higher stocking compared to timber crops is justified, especially as the rotation is only a few years.

Common E. grandis stockings for fuelwood range from 1,337 to 2,500 sph, depending on the nature of the site and the size of poles required (Note: Higher stockings will generally produce a lot of smaller poles; if larger poles are required, re duce the stocking).

Plantation establishment

The same golden rules for establishment of all eucalyptus crops apply. These include; thorough land preparation; pre-plant weed control; planting only good quality seedlings; planting early in the rains, blanking (infilling) no later than three weeks after the initial planting and most importantly, regular weeding in the first few months after planting. germination rate with each batch of seed from

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