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Spring frost damage to young trees and how to get grant aid

Steven Meyen, Teagasc Forestry Development Officer, based in Donegal, remembers the severe late spring frosts of May 2019, 2020 and 2021. He discusses frost damage to young trees, steps forest owners can take including availing of the Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme

Severe winter colds will rarely damage trees in Ireland, but late spring and early summer frosts can be very detrimental. Landowners who planted a forest in the last few years will remember (with dread) the severe late spring frosts of May 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Frost damage

These frosts happened at the worst possible time, as they coincided with young trees putting on new growth. Both broadleaf and conifer trees were affected, particularly young oak and Sitka spruce, resulting in the new foliage being burnt and appearing blackened and/or dead. In most cases, young trees will survive and re-flush later in the season. However the impact on future timber quality of severely damaged trees can be substantial. Damage to the side shoots is not as serious as damage to the leading shoot, which will result in the tree forking from that point on; failure to correct this will severely affect their future shape.  Where damage to young trees is particularly severe,replanting may be required. If damage is less severe, formative shaping may be an option. Frost damage becomes less of a problem as the trees get taller.

Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme

A Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme has been introduced by the Department of Agriculture to assist private forest owners who experienced tree losses of more than 30%. This scheme aims to reconstitute newly planted forests significantly damaged by the frost events of 2019, 2020 and 2021 replacing dead trees with plants of acceptable quality, provenances and species. The scheme also provides assistance to prune damaged trees where damage is significant but not severe enough to warrant full replacement of stems.

Private forest owners who planted during the period between 1 November 2014 (amended) and 1 June 2021 and whose entire forests sustained a minimum of 30% losses are eligible to apply under the Scheme. 

This grant scheme is cost-based. This means that evidence of costs expended and receipts for items purchased must be retained and produced on the request of the Department.

Maximum grant rates are set out in the table below.

Grant and Premium Category (GPC)% damage ratemax grant rate (€/ha)
Conifers GPC 1-4

more than 50% 850
40-49% 680
30-39% 510
Broadleaves GPC 5-12

more than 50% 1180
40-49% 945
30-39% 708

The closing date for receipt of applications under the scheme is Tuesday, 31 May 2022 (amended).

All grant payments under this scheme will be subject to an inspection regime at pre-planting and post-planting stages to ensure that plant losses declared are correct and that they subsequently have been replaced.

Forestry Premium Applications

8,200 forest owners have already received their very welcome 2022 forestry premium (totalling €29m) Minister of State Pippa Hackett confirmed a month ago.

If you haven't applied yet for this year's forestry premium, you want to do so as soon as possible. The sooner you apply the sooner you'll be paid.

All forestry premium applications must be applied for online via www.agfood.ie If you forget your username or password or you can't log on, the Department's helpdesk (phone 049-4368288, email agfood@agriculture.gov.ie) will be able to help you.

Forestry Division staff won't be able to help you with usernames or passwords but they can assist with forestry premium queries. They can be contacted on 053-9163400. Make sure to have your forestry Contract Number (CN) and /or Forest Owner (FO) number to hand. For more details on how to apply see Teagasc Forestry  

You can also read Steven Meyen's Step-by-step guide to online forestry premium applications

The Teagasc Forestry Department issues an article on a Forestry topic every Friday here on Teagasc Daily  Subscribe to: Forestry e-News Keep up-to-date with the Teagasc Forestry Department here or follow them on Social Media here