NZFFA guide sheet No. 2: An Introduction to Growing redwood
Two species of redwood are of interest to foresters:
- Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).
Grows naturally on a strip of land near the Californian coast. Timber is in high demand, but supplies are limited, and are unlikely to increase.
- Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
The worlds biggest tree, confined to small groves in the Sierra Nevada range in inland California. Best suited to South Island sites.
Why grow redwoods?
- Many of the early New Zealand redwood plantings failed — The main reasons are likely to have been unsuitable sites, poor weed control, and poor planting stock. On suitable sites, and with good management, growth rates in New Zealand are better than in California.
- Early New Zealand plantings were in competition in the marketplace with old growth Californian redwoods. These have now been largely milled, and the remaining old growth forests are protected. The quality of New Zealand redwood is likely to match the second growth redwood currently being milled in California.
- Because of the balance of supply and demand, the value of redwood timber in the Californian markets is now very high, and is likely to remain so. There has been recent interest from Californian forestry companies in growing redwood in New Zealand.
- There are reasons apart from simple economics — redwoods are among the worlds’ most spectacular trees.
Redwoods are site-selective. They need:
- good soils, with adequate summer moisture and good drainage.
- shelter from strong (and particularly from salt-laden ) prevailing winds. They are best suited to sheltered valleys. Avoid frost pockets and waterlogged soils.
Control weeds before planting, and for the first two summers. Redwoods do not like grass competition.
Plant in winter, before new shoot growth occurs. Seedlings should be grown from Californian- sourced seeds. Seeds from New Zealand grown trees may be inbred, and therefore grow more slowly. Clonal selections from quality trees will become available in a year or two.
Sequoia Group (An action group of the Farm Forestry Association- Objectives are information sharing, and joint research.)