Loblolly needle length

This loblolly was collected in 1973 or 71. I acquired the tree late winter of this year. While the tree did look healthy there was a lot of room for improvement (balancing vigor, needle density, bud quantity, needle length). The tree had never been treated like a long needle multi flush pine (summer decandling). I have just completed the second round of decandling (first round was decandling the weakest shoots, second was decandling average strength shoots seven days later, will decandle strongest shoots July 4).

My question is this, have you ever seen a lobblolly successfully reduce needle length to the appropriate size on a specimen tree?

Before decandling

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I can’t think of examples of loblolly with short needles - will be curious how it responds to the decandling!

I’m with Jonas… only thing I’ve ever seen happen was the tree getting weaker and weaker over time. As far as needle length… I’ve never seen a loblolly with small needles, they always look a mile long lol

Question: What is the idea behind the method of decandling the small/weak candles first, then the middle and strong? Always thought that it was made the other way round!
Best, Tino

you want the slowest car to take off down the road first, that way it crosses the finish line at the same time as the fastest car. our goal is to get all the candles to the same strength, so needle size and strength is balanced throughout the whole tree.

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Here’s the response to decandling 2 weeks later

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As odd as it sounds last years needles are continuing to elongate and the response to this summers decandling has been robust to say the least however I have been fertilizing heavy to generate as many buds as possible. It will get an even smaller pot this winter and next year I will not fertilize after decandling. My location is quite colder in the winter than where it has lived the last 50yrs so I’m hoping that a longer and colder dormancy might help in stopping previous years needles to continue elongating. We shall see.

Have you ever experienced needles elongating after hardening off?

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Wow, that’s healthy! I’m used to the current needles lengthening but not previous years’ needles continuing to grow.

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Another update. As you can tell the response to multiflush pine technique has been spectacular. Needle length is slightly less than half of last years needles and remember I have been heavily fertilizing all year.

Here’s the big clue that we’re going to shorten these needles in the future, back budding! Hundreds of new back buds are forming, even in old bark.

The anticipation of repotting into an even smaller pot, doubling the amount of useable buds and stopping fertilizer after next summers decandling has me salivating at this trees potential.

Jonas, considering the USDA hardiness zone recommendation of 6b-9b would you feel comfortable with winterizing on the ground protected from north winds with just heavy mulch in a 6a zone? Or take it a set further and winterize in a greenhouse that doesn’t get below 28deg?

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I’d want to check with someone who has experience with these in winter. In the absence of data one way or the other, I’d always opt for the more conservative route, but I don’t know that it’s necessary.

The tree looks fantastic, btw! With so many buds and new shoots I expect the needles will continue to shorten as the new branches fill out the silhouette. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued progress!