Norway Spruce growth rate question. First year 4".

Cal_00August 20, 2014

Hello GW.

Last fall (2013) I planted 5 bare root Norway Spruces. They were four years old and around 30" tall each. I'm not impatient about their growth but I would like to know more information regarding their growth. I understand that it takes a few years for trees to get established but I was wondering how many years that is and if them being bare root will increase the time needed to get established. This year they had about 3-5" of top growth and 4"+ lateral which in all honesty I was thrilled about since I thought I'd lose them because of the harsh winter. Like always, any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Jarpe(z4-z5 Finland)

It will take about 2 growing seasons to establish, after that effective growth will start and It will propably be 10 feet tall after ten years.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:09AM
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...yeah, something like that. Here's what happened up at my tree farm, which we started on in 2008: That first year, we hand-planted several hundred conifer seedlings. Technically, some of these were plug stock, while others were normal bare-root. Of the third or so that were NS, the best of that bunch are now about twelve feet tall. The last two growing seasons in particular have seen rather impressive height increments, with last year's wet weather yielding as much as 4 1/2 feet of new growth on some. This year's growing season started out wet but became quite dry by July. Nevertheless, some of the NS have once again put on upwards of three feet + of new growth. Very vigorous species.

This is in a sandy loam soil in Z4.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:44AM
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Norway spruce are generally a medium-fast growing tree. But, of course, your climate and soil make a big difference.

I have grown NS both in Northern Virginia, a dry and hot Z6, and in the mountains of Western Maryland, a wet, snowy Z5.

In both places I have seen some very fast growth on individual trees certain years. Yes, up to 4' or a tad more, but your average will be much less. In Western MD, in my forest groves on a good "class II" forest soil, the average is 28 inches. At this rate a 4 foot tree will be about 115 feet tall in another 50 years, with a very steady growth rate for the whole period.

In Northern VA, the growth rate will be substantially less, averaging about 20 inches in a forest stand.

But if your trees are growing in the open, they will, on average, grow in height more slowly, but faster in diameter. In given years their growth may be affected by possible white pine weevils, which kill the top portion of the previous year's leader. And, birds landing on the new leaders, before they have hardened, will break them, which also slows height growth for that year.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:19PM
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All too true Spruce-those last two points. I must have a resident population of WP weevil working my plantation over. Some damage, others left alone completely. And it doesn't help, having white pines in the very same area, although as you've pointed out, it seems Norway spruce is an even more favored host. Happily, NS can and does re-leader quite readily, and with the fast growth rate, is able to make up for lost time reasonably well, it seems.

I've done no control so far. Have you done anything in your groves with regard to chemical control?


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:40PM
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For a while, when the trees were smaller, I did nip off the tips to get the weevils, but my trees are way too tall now. I think doing what I did reduced the population some, but I'm not sure. In Winchester I planted a lot of white pines and Norway spruce trees, and there were no other white pines or Norway spruce anywhere near, but, in a few years, here came the weevils. I have had so much else to do here, I did not try to get the weevils this year.

But, as you say, Norway spruce handle the damage well, and usually re-establish a single leader. And, it seems they make up for the lost growth one year with better growth the next. But repeated weevil attacks do retard growth some.

No, I have not tried chemical control. My understanding is that the timing has to be exactly right--I read a bit about it at one time, but don't remember just how to decide when to do the treatments. Once the weevils enter and start eating their way down into the shoot, it is hard to get the pesticide to them.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 4:54PM
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Thanks Spruce. As has so often been the case, your experiences are a huge benefit to latter-day folks such as myself. And I'm in exactly the same boat as's simply impossible to deal with everything, so to a large extent, things are free-range every step of the way.

I suppose-and this with no research-there would be a systemic product that could conceivably get at these weevil larvae, but there are problems with that too, not the least of which are unintended, off-target effects. Now granted, as a wind-pollinated pine family member, we're not likely to have lots of bees and other beneficial insects working the trees over, but that whole area is problematic to me. It seems the more we learn, the less I can justify such applications. So, somewhere within the thousands of NS we've planted, I hope for some to remain free of this pest. And I think it will work.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 9:17AM
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And the systemic chemicals can very expensive, depending, and time consuming to apply, especially if the trees have to be treated every year.

Yeah, NS do just fine on their own. The weevils will cause more trees to develop forks, and I dealt with that for a good while by climbing and cutting them out of the best trees. But I am, I think, past that now. I am a very vigorous 75, but climbing up trees that are now approaching 100 feet tall would be "pushing it" a bit for me now. Hah!

And, you will need to do some thinning at some point, so forked trees can be removed then. The weevils are not a big problem on NS.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:06PM
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