Friday, October 27, 2017

I started planting my orchard windbreak today

Orange circles are approximate locations of hazelnut bushes.

One of the advantages of getting a little bit older is that I rarely jump when an idea first pops into my head.

That worked to my advantage in the concept of how I laid out the windbreak for my orchard.

I was originally trapped into the thinking East-West-North-South.  The problem with that thinking was the slope of the land.  The southwest corner of the property is about 15 feet below the rest of the orchard area.  I was concerned that the wind would blow right over the tops of my windbreak and whip the apple trees.

The other issue is that the prevailing winds are from the west-southwest.  Planting square-to-grid was not the best way to shield my trees.

I may be a slow thinker but in this case I gave myself enough time to recognize the obvious.  The windbreak "wanted" to be planted with the contour of the land.

That allowed me to stitch in a couple of existing pear trees.  I also had to put a gap in the windbreak for a path but that presented little difficulty.

Once I divorced myself from square-to-grid thinking, I had the presence of mind to extend the windbreak south of the orchard to more fully shield it from the wind's preferred quadrant.

Some pictures
It is easier to move stakes around than to dig up bushes.  Photo taken looking north-ish.  You can see a long piece of surveyor's tape blowing in the wind in the background.  That is in one of the pear trees.
Looking west from the apple orchard.  You get a feeling for how this plateau is significantly higher than the flats where the wind picks up speed.  Stakes are about 7' apart.
A closer look at the Box Elder that a windstorm knocked the snot out of.  This tree provided a little bit of windbreak for my orchard and now it is gone.  The upside is that there is much more sun hitting the ground and I can replace it with species that are more effective windbreaks and will produce food.
It took about an hour to move the eight hazelnut bushes.  If I get ambitious I may plant more bushes between the ones I planted today.  The top of the stake is belt high.
What do hazelnut bushes look like?

This is a typical shape for a hybrid hazelnut bush but I expect mine to only reach 12' to 15'.
Here are some hazelnut bushes in either Wisconsin or Minnesota.  Image from Badgersett Farms.  Clones that bear large numbers of nuts tend to have their branches dragged down.  That makes the bushes shorter and wider.
Here are some ancient hazelnut bushes.  Obviously, these will not make very good windbreaks because there are not enough branches down low.  Fortunately, these bushes have a lot of "plasticity".  They will cheerfully grow as bushes or single-stemmed trees depending on what material you trim out.


  1. Would a second row that is offset to the current one be something to consider for preserving the windbreak if one or more in the line were to die?

    1. I went through today and planted bushes in between the ones I planted yesterday.

      Bushes will die. Not all of them will be immune to the Eastern Filbert Blight. I also like to plant them close together so I can cull the inferior specimens.

      Another strategy is to plant a second, shorter species to fill the gaps at the bottom. Examples would be blackberries, currants, dogwood, spicebush...

  2. Wind breaks seem to work best with 50% solid and will block wind for 7x the height.

  3. Looks like the 'delay' gave you time to fix the idea more firmly, and plan it better!

  4. preserving the windbreak if one or more in the line were to die?



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