How much time do you spend plucking needles?

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Out of curiousity, how fast are people at plucking needles on their black pines? How long does it take you to do a medium-sized tree (i.e. something 2-3" trunk caliper)?
 

Tachigi

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In the beginning I use to pluck a set at a time and it took quite a while to do an entire tree. As my collection grew and then the addition of inventory. I wasnt quite as "delicate" as I was when I started. So plucking involved pulling 6 sets or so at a time. Still a sticky and time consuming project.

With the advent of ponderosas to my collection and inventory and the process for needle cutting to preserve there precious buds. I adapted that to JBP. This increased the speed and delicacy of handling the trees. It also proved to be beneficial as buds almost doubled in production. Not to mention the fact that my fingers ended up almost resign free.
 

Graydon

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Out of curiousity, how fast are people at plucking needles on their black pines? How long does it take you to do a medium-sized tree (i.e. something 2-3" trunk caliper)?
Not much time at all. I generally have adopted the "no pluck" approach unless there is an area being shaded out. When I do pluck it looks more like a tear by the handful approach because it is.

Of course we should clarify why we are plucking. I don't believe in removing needles on a pine still in development (building branches or trunk girth). In that case I let them stay on the tree if they are not shading stuff out and they will brown and fall when it's time. On a refined pine I don't remove needles until fall and then it's with a bud scissor like Tom pointed out - to preserve a dormant bud at the sheath.
 

rlist

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I typically pluck old needles that are ready to fall like Graydon mentions, and then cut the rest. I do this as I can be as fast as plucking, and yet I can be more cautious to make sure I do not damage the trunk.

With larger ponderosas I typically use my standard shears. With the smaller trees I have gone to using a pair of scissors from my fly tying days that have a D loop that my right ring finger goes through, and the scissors rest in my palm. That way I am free to use my left hand and the thumb and first finger of my right hand to manipulate branches, needles, buds, whatever and have the scissors in hand to instantly cut needles when needed. Due to the precision nature of these tools, they need to be cleaned about every tree to remove sap, and they have diffiuclty on large thick ponderosa needles. Works for me and makes things go fast through...
 

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Graydon

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Now your question makes sense. I was dumping more video to the drive today and saw you plucking needles on your pine at the pine workshop. How long did that take? How did it turn out?
 

Bonsai Nut

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Now your question makes sense. I was dumping more video to the drive today and saw you plucking needles on your pine at the pine workshop. How long did that take? How did it turn out?

Plucking THAT pine wasn't the issue. It was the 30-odd pines at home that got me thinking :) When I'm in a rush, or working on 5-needle pines, I cut them. However there is something about plucking black and red pines that I enjoy. Call me a masochist :) I might be better off cutting them all - especially when I make a mistake and pull off a bud. I was plucking pines so much this weekend that I was getting a blister on my finger from how I was holding my tweezers.

On my bigger pines it can take me 2-3 hours to thoroughly pluck, trim and select buds (if they need trimming or bud selection). Wiring takes even longer. That black pine in Bill Castellan's workshop took me about 3 1/2 hours to pluck, trim and wire (taking breaks to look at other trees, talk to people, etc). I bought a couple of red pines that had already been plucked for this Fall, but looking them over there were some sloppy areas that needed some touch-up (about 30 minutes or so of delicate work). In the Stone Lantern Pines book, they talk about how Kimura will sometimes trim only one or two needles out of a 5-needle bundle on the WHOLE TREE. That would truly take hours and hours.

So I was curious how much time people spend on a single tree and wondering whether I was some sort of anomoly.
 
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I did it for the first time in late August on a pine with pretty sparse foliage. It took me 4 hours, wich was about 3 hours more than I thought it would take...
 

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