Tree and Forest Measurement / Tree Form
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Tree Form

The shape or branching habit of a tree can affect its commercial value markedly. When assessing trees it is useful to record any important aspects of form that may affect marketability. The perfect "target tree" for saw milling might, for example, have a very straight butt log with a single leading stem.

Although most field recording sheets do allow for comments against each tree, it is helpful to be able to more quickly record a summary of each tree's form and suitability for the intended use or market. There are many different methods for doing this. As a minimum it is recommend that when measuring trees farmers classify each tree as having either:

  • Form 1: Perfect form for the intended use or market (e.g. straight trunk or bole, fine branches, no apparent defects etc)
  • Form 2: Acceptable form for the intended use or market but not ideal (e.g. some kinks in stem, evidence of insect attack etc)
  • Form 3: Unacceptable form for the intended use or market (e.g. severe butt sweep, double leaders, evidence of severe rot etc).

One of the most important form factors in the production of sawlogs is straightness of the butt log. If the tree deviates significantly outside a central axis (Form 3), then the form is likely to be unacceptable for milling purposes or severely downgraded.

Straightness is an important form characteristic in many situations. These examples show how farmers might classify their trees based on stem form.

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