Hedgerow and Thicket Renovation
Hedgerow and Fencerow Renovation
Historically many hedgerows or fencerows between crop fields were cut for firewood and or fence posts. With the invention of the steel T-post and availability of electricity and other heat sources fencerows were neglected as source of raw material. In many instances fencerows were removed to allow for larger farm equipment to work the fields. In a few rare instances some fencerows did survive but many of these fencerows are no longer usable to quail and rabbits because they have become too mature and dominated by large trees.
As fencerows age the trees mature to the point that there is no longer adequate cover at ground level that is needed by wildlife to provide safe loafing and feeding sites. The ideal method for renovating a fencerow is to cut all trees and shrubs down. Branches and stems <6 in in diameter should be piled back onto the cut stumps. Stumps of large trees should be treated with glyphosate or triclopyr to reduce resprouting, but shrubs should not be treated with herbicide. These should be allowed to resprout rapidly to create dense loafing and feeding cover. Areas of fescue should also be sprayed with glyphosate to reduce competition with native plants. By cutting back trees and shrubs in the fencerow, competition and shading of the crop field are reduced. In order to maintain the ideal fencerow conditions for quail and rabbits renovation should occur every 10 to 15 years.
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As native shrubs such as sumac, dogwood, and plum mature, they begin to lose their value for wildlife. Fruit production begins to decline rapidly after about 10 years and shading from the upper canopy begins to kill out lower branches reducing protective cover at ground level. Cutting back old mature stems results in a flush of new growth for the next couple of years with an increase in production of fruits.
Shrub renovation can occur anytime of the year on established plants. Cutting during the summer will result in slow growth for a couple of years. Cutting in winter often results in faster growth during the spring and summer as nutrients stored in the roots from the previous year are used to increase stem growth. To renovate a thicket cut all shoots level with the ground and either pile branches on stumps or next to stump for cover. Within 3 to 4 years the shrub will have resprouted enough to create a denser thicket. In large thickets, saplings of undesirable trees should be cut and treated with glyphosate or triclopyr. Care should be taken to not treat any portions of desirable shrub because this can reduce the resprouting of the shrub.
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