There is something peculiar about tree nurseries. Everything grows, greens and thrives – the inner mood barometer rises automatically. A green thumb is not a prerequisite for growing high-quality planting material, but solid knowledge is. One question we are confronted with again and again is why we don’t use super fertiliser to accelerate the growth of the seedlings. The answer: seedlings are like other living creatures, so they get spoiled quickly. If they do not learn to draw their food from the soil, they are not able to do so after they are set out. They starve to death even though the soil has the food ready.

The most glaring example: I visited a teak plantation in the northern Philippines whose owner was wealthy and had poured bags of artificial fertiliser to accelerate the growth of the trees, which visibly worked. After he tragically died in an accident, his widow stopped this expensive procedure. With the result that almost all the trees stunted. Moreover, very fast-growing wood is often of poor quality, not infrequently also susceptible to pest infestation, so that in addition to the application of artificial fertiliser, other chemicals have to be used in order to have a secure harvest. From our point of view, all this is unnecessary.

Trees are clever creatures. It is only important that they find sufficient nutrients in the soil. We take care of this with wider planting distances. Teak trees (bottom right) show best results when the distance is 12 x 12 metres, but this requires huge areas. However, they are also very happy with our 4 x 4 metre system.

In Monkayo, our inventory will be carried out until December in order to selectively fell mahogany trees in 2023. Although many do not yet have the required diameter, some already do.

Evangelyn is again the model for the thickest teak tree, planted in December 2005 in Monkayo. Teak loves the climate in Mindanao and is increasingly planted by us.

This truckload shows the different trunk diameters. All the falcata trees were planted and cut in the same month.

Fast-growing grass is one of the problems for young trees. The seedlings need sunlight and slow down their growth when they are overgrown by grass.

The grass around the trees has already been cut short. It is welcome to stay between the rows, as this is where it keeps the moisture after heavy rainfall.

It is also important to understand how trees “function”. In nature, seedlings usually grow up in the shade of the crown under the mother tree. Slowly, but like sprinters always ready to “take off”. Should parts of the crown break away from the mother tree due to strong winds or pest infestation, or even the whole tree fall over and the sunlight reach the ground, the seedlings strive upwards as if in a sprint. Only those who reach the top quickly can shade out the others and are winners.

As our photos show, most of your trees grow without light cover, so they already grow faster than when they are waiting in the forest under the mother tree to get started. If artificial fertiliser were also used, the young trees would certainly be overtaxed or at least the wood would be of very poor quality.

From our point of view, our forestry is professional. We have foresters and agar foresters in the team. Despite all our experience and the creation of favourable conditions, however, nature cannot be outwitted, which is also very reassuring and should be accepted. A tree needs its time, even if growth in the tropics is already amazingly rapid. The lack of seasons, sufficient sunshine and lots of rain ensure a constant increase in the amount of wood.

The price of wood is currently not increasing and is firmly cemented at 37 Peso (0.65 Euro) per board feet (424 board feet are one cubic metre). The demand for timber (mahogany and teak) for doors, furniture and constructions is limited by the pandemic. In Asia, however, the economy has already picked up, so we expect a price increase, albeit a very small one, in 2023.

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