Ponderosa collecting help


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Salt Lake City, UT
I've recently discovered an area in western Wyoming where I will be able to collect. I'll primarily be looking for ponderosa pine and junipers, but I'm open to spruce and fir as well depending on what I find. I will be able to obtain permission.

Unfortunately the collecting area is more than 3 hours away, and I'm a graduate student...

What I'm trying to determine is the approximate conditions when ponderosa buds begin to swell. I know this is a very specific question, and that there is no specific answer. Is there a minimum overnight temp. that I can look at (i.e. they'll probably start pushing when overnight temps. are at least above 35F?)? I'll be collecting in higher altitudes, so I know the date will be later in the spring/early summer. I want to avoid going too late and missing the collecting period, but also going too early with the probability that I will only be able to make one trip during that time.

I have collected deciduous trees successfully, and I've read all I can about experiences collecting conifers. Luckily the climate I'm bringing the trees to will be past frost danger, but not too hot yet. I have an auto watering system so I can regularly mist them if needed. I would seek the advice of local experts, but Salt Lake isn't exactly a bonsai haven and local information has been hard (but not impossible) to come by. I'm open to any advice from all of the wonderfully successful collectors here :).

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