Tom's Blog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cutting sumac

Mid July is supposed to be the best time for cutting sumac, and this is what we are doing. Because we are cutting new shoots, they are not very woody and are relatively easy to cut.

Each person has his or her own favored method for cutting sumac. I use two methods.

Hand clippers: Because many of the stems are soft, they are easy to cut with a hand clippers. I grab the top of the shoot and pull it back so that the bottom of the stem is exposed, then stoop and cut the stem as close to the base as possible.

Parsnip Predator shovel: A quicker way, which eliminates stooping, is to cut the stem with the sharpened tip of a Parsnip Predator. For the younger shoots, I use the shovel itself to pull back the stem, and then slide the tip down to the base, pin the stem between the shovel and the ground, and then push hard. The stem usually snaps. If the stem is older and larger and perhaps a bit woody, then pin the base of the stem on the ground with the shovel and then step sharply on the foot guard.

Most of the clones we are cutting are fairly large. I timed myself today and found that it took 45 minutes to cut a clone that had about 220 shoots, which is 4.8 shoots per minute.

Why aren't we using a brush cutter? There are lots of "good" plants growing in and among these sumac clones, and we want to protect them. It is hard to be selective using a brush cutter.

For really large clones, we are hauling the cut stems to a brush pile, but for most of the clones we are just leaving the cut stems lay. They shrivel up fairly quickly and do not affect the growth of the good plants.


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