Site and preparation

The site of the trial is located on the Hucking Estate in Kent owned by the Woodland Trust.

The trees were planted on a 2 ha plot of ungrazed pasture on a drift clay soil with flint (typical of the region).

The plot was fenced to protect young trees from rabbits and deer and mowed prior to planting. Layout plans were formulated and marked up.

Planting

A total of 3,780 trees were planted with 2m spacing in a block design replicated 3 times.

Each block contains 27 individual plots of 36 trees planted in one of the following configurations:

  • Single species, single provenance
  • Single species, mixed provenance

In addition each block had a further plot containing 288 trees as:

  • Mixed species, mixed provenance

Mixed provenance plots were planted in 50:50 and 75:25 ratios. The uneven ratios were chosen to reflect anticipated success rates; for example, since Italian stock was anticipated to perform less well it would not make sense to plant it as the majority species.

Planting took place in February 2011 and all seedlings were protected by vole guards. Any trees that died within the first two years of the experiment were replaced – like for like. The site is regularly mowed and approved herbicide applications made when required.

  •  Randomised block design of planting at Hucking provenance trial.
    Randomised block design of planting at Hucking provenance trial. Blocks indicate the 3 replicates of the experiment. Each numbered square (1-27) represents a plot treatment. Plot 28 represents the area of planting of 288 trees in mixed species/mixed provenance configuration.

Assessments

Every tree on the site is assessed for the following attributes (with specified frequency):

  • Survival (spring and autumn)
  • Growth – height and diameter (annual)
  • Phenology - timing of spring bud burst (weekly May to July) and autumn leaf discolouration (weekly September to November)
  • Associated Biodiversity - insect herbivores (annual or biannual)

It is hoped that data collection will be continuing for a minimum of 10 years.