Bonsai Study Group Forum

Species Specific => Japanese Black Pine Bonsai Discussion => Topic started by: Josh on October 11, 2011, 01:55 PM

Title: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Josh on October 11, 2011, 01:55 PM
Ernie Kuo wrote a brief, yet very interesting article about JBP development, in particular needle/candle treatment.  (Bonsai Today #48, pp 23-26.  He developed a year long system for development of needles and candles for JBP in development, in which he demonstrates the ability to get growth/ramification in a single year comparable to 2 years using the more traditional candle cutting technique.

Anyone tried this?  What was your experience?  I thought this may be of interest for those with experience with JBP.

Thanks, Josh
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 11, 2011, 03:55 PM
So, what does it say?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on October 11, 2011, 07:16 PM
I have read the Kuo article. I guess I wonder where those trees are today? I know hat a number of folks in the deep south (texas and Florida) have tried decandling on a nearly continual basis. I have never seen a good tree done this way (not the technique's fault, just the material chosen), I guess I would need to see this done over a number of ears and see how uniform and strong the trees are. My suggestion is that if you want to see how this approach works, try it. If it works well I am sure that a lot of folks will look at it again, though I don't know why it didn't catch on after it was published back in the 90's.

JOhn
(I am heading down to the basement to pull out Volume 48, I looked at it a few years ago after someone brought it up on another site.)
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on October 11, 2011, 10:21 PM
it would be interesting to see if Ernie still does this technique today. I can ask him next month as i see him every 2nd sunday of the month.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on October 12, 2011, 09:41 AM
I would be interested in hearing if he oes, when Cheng Cheng, the Si-Diao master, was at the GSBF convention about 5or 6 years ago, Erne was the translator and Iasked him about it, he was just starting o answer when he got called off to help with Workshop and I had to leave before we could finish the conversation. It looks compelling.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: bwaynef on October 12, 2011, 09:59 AM
For those w/o BT48, ...anyone care to share what it is that's being discussed?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Dave Murphy on October 12, 2011, 10:33 AM
For those w/o BT48, ...anyone care to share what it is that's being discussed?
Developing secondary and tertiary ramification in one growing season on JBP.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: akeppler on October 13, 2011, 02:06 AM
When reading anything to do with bonsai and fast growing techniques coming out of California, keep in mind that black pines grow all year long. We fertilize all year, and prune all year. Getting two years growth in one year is not that big of deal out here. Coastal climates are a little slower due to temps, but they are still temperate conditions needing no winter care and still continue growing.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on October 13, 2011, 08:30 AM
Al,
I fully understand you point, however the Florida and South Texas trees that folks try year round cycles on don't develop as well as those done "conventionally". My trees develop fast enough using the "contemporary" bud and needle management techniques. It is always interesting to see new takes on the approach. And yes, the climate in The warm part of California does simplify things.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on October 13, 2011, 08:40 AM
Agreed. 

A few years ago I allowed a traveling instructor, at his insistence, under his supervision, to talk me into removing fall buds on one of my black pines.  Predictably, the next year the tree did nothing but set buds for the following Spring.  When he returned a year later I brought the tree in to review the results with him. 

He said:

Quote
...yeah, mine did the same thing this year.  The tree looks healthy enough, so it shouldn't die.  With the needle work that you're showing on your other trees you don't really need to do this technique.  I would guess I've only put you 2 years behind on this tree.

 :-[
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Woody on October 26, 2011, 11:02 PM
Hi Nathanbs

Just wondering if you had a chance to ask Ernie Kuo about whether he still uses his previously published technique of spring and fall candle cutting?

Thanks

Shaun
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Woody on October 27, 2011, 12:47 AM
This question is guess goes to mainly to Al but if anyone else has something helpful to add, I would be most grateful.

Al you mentioned that you prune your JBPs year round. Do you find this results in reduced needle size?

I ask because I live down in a tropical region of Australia with a climate similar to to Hawaii's. We get almost continuous growth year round so the methods typically advocated on forums and books are largely irrelevant given they are usually based on temperate climate conditions.

The way I understand it, the method developed orginally in Japan and propagated elsewhere works by cutting candles late in the growing season thereby causing the subsequent secondary growth to be limited by the shorter growing season available before the onset of winter dormancy. However the mechanics of this method fails in warmer climes where growth occurs continuously. Thus in my mind needle reduction can only occur through other means. Limiting fertiliser is an option but a poor one. Perhaps increasing ramification is another. Maybe allowing trees to become pot bound could help.

My trees are growing strongly and seem to thrive in the tropics. I don't seem to need chemical fungicides. My only problem now is how to achieve a reduced needle size.

Any advice or words of wisdom would be so appreciated.

Shaun

P/s: should try to get the bonsai today article discussed earlier in the thread?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on October 27, 2011, 09:31 AM
Have not talked to Ernie yet, however i will make a point of it. Have you tried removing then entire candle in mid-late july to see what the resulting needle length is. Im in So. California so im not sure how we compare, I think you  are still warmer year round. Either way the tree has a cycle of budsetting that can be tricked by removing the first set of candles when they are fully elongated typically, this triggers a second budset that im thinking as long as you time it right the tree will only dedicate so much time to producing these second buds. In addition you certainly want to zap the tree from making any additional energy by needle pruning all old and alot of the new needles once they have hardened off.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on October 27, 2011, 10:06 PM
to avoid any further confusion its better to refer to the needle removal as thinning instead of pruning.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Woody on October 29, 2011, 07:23 AM
Nathanbs

Thanks for your helpful reply.

You are correct in thinking that my climate is somewhat warmer than southern california.

I haven't quite started needle reduction on my tree as they aren't up to that stage of refinement yet. For now I'm concentrating on trunk and branch development. However that being said, I've previously cut candles and pulled needles in higher strength areas around the apex to direct growth to lower branches. The effect was more balanced growth and even needle length. The thing is the effect was short lived as we get almost continuous year round and the next flush of growth erased previous efforts. So thus I think there is hope.

I'll be looking forward to any info you can pass on about Ernie Kuo's technique.

Shaun
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on October 29, 2011, 08:45 AM
So Woody, are you in Quennsland?

A number of folk raise JBP in tropical climates with varying levels of success. In the US the two most likely states with similar conditions would be parts of Florida and Hawaii (Puerto Rico as well). The keys are balancing energy and stressors, fertilizer removal, candle and needle removal and roots. I know that Boon has worked with the south Florida folks to get them on a once a year decandling program. Regardless, timing (February? in the Southern Hemisphere), leaving as long a "neck" from the initial candle to retard growth as possible, reducing the number of needle pairs more significantly than typically done in the temperate zone and an annual to every other year repotting cycle.

I wouldn't let the fact that a single decandling didn't result in a reduction in needle length or candle growth. We frequently see that really strong growing developmentally immature (not refined) trees take a number of cycles to stabilize, in a climate like yours this will most likely take several years to get right. The dangers associated with year round/continuous decndling programs is long term weakening of the tree, loss of uniformity and "exhaustion". I once bought an older JBP from Hawaii, nice tree, was  refined at one point in its life, took it a couple of years to just get it growing on cycle again, let alone to get it starting towards refinement.

Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Woody on October 30, 2011, 10:52 AM
Hi John

Thanks for the insight and advice.

Yep I'm located in Queensland. Right towards the northern tip in fact. So it gets pretty warm here at times during the year.

I do think needle reduction can be done here but it may be a little more tricky than in temperate climates. Trying to get a 6 inch shohin going could be a challenge.

With regards to what strategies I may employ when the time comes for needle reduction, here's what I'm thinking so far:

1. Selection of good tree - good characteristics like native needle length will make my overall job easier right from the start. Unfortunately, in Australia, procuring good JBP material is pretty hard. What you guys pay $10 for,I've seen the equivalent for $150 over here! Also specific varieties grafted with bonsai appropriate grafting technique is almost impossible to buy - I wish I could import some of Brent Walston's trees! I've been lucky though that I've managed to get some seedlings going with good characteristics. They will take time to mature however.

2. Candle cutting technique - once or may be twice a year. Will have to experiment on that one. Continuously cutting candles throughout the year may be excessively stressful and weakening to the tree. Cut the candle stubs long to hold it back.

3. Pulling more needles than usually advised - I like that tip you gave me John. I'll use that one

4. Watch fertiliser use - aggressive feeding is probably not so important once development of trunk and branches has been achieved. High nitrogen levels do promote longer candles and needles so the use of fertiliser with a more balanced NPK ratio will help. Perhaps I might even try a more high K formulation which will help restrict the effects of nitrogen further.

5. Watch watering during needle growth phase

6. Allowing roots to become a little pot bound thereby reducing vigour a little more

7. Using a mix which is a little finer in texture

8. Ramification - obviously a marker of a developed tree but ramification could help in "spreading" the tree's energy. Needs to be managed properly however otherwise the extra photosynthetic potential could end up giving the tree even more energy to draw on.

Let us know what you think of the above strategies.

Shaun
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on October 30, 2011, 11:47 AM
SO a couple of keys,
1. We fertilize the trees to build strong buds. So, normally in temperate zone trees, we fertilize the trees strongly up to the day of decandling. I would do that in Queensland as well. After decandling, we remove all fertilizer and in temperate zones, leave it off for 4-8 weeks. I would try leaving the fertilizer off for a longer time in your area- maybe 12-16-20 weeks. This will allow the needles to grow in the absence of fertilizer. This will shorten them.

2. I would repot the trees annually, for small (shohin) trees and every other year for larger trees. You will thus be diverting more energy for root development, again slowing the trees, without the catastrophic potential of root bound trees not being able to regenerate roots. THis would allow you to clean out 1/4 of the root ball each year (in addition to the 40-50% reduction in root mass that you would normally have.

THis strategy would gve you something like- Repot in July or August, no fertilizer for 8-12 weeks, add fertilizer, start light then add more as the season progresses. Decandle the trees and then pull fertilizer for 12-20 weeks, fertilize lightly, then repot. This would  allow you to have about 20 weeks of fertilizing per year to help the buds grow, yet not having fertilizer on trees while the needles are elongating. I don't know if you can consistently have 1/2-3/4" needles on shohin, but maybe you can get close.

The big fear that I have on JBP is that we weaken the roots too much with starving techniques (little water, little fertilizer, and allowing them to become rootbound) that we cannot recover them over the long haul. I would suggest restricting root function by systematically repotting, limiting the time of fertilizing and aggressive decandling.

As you think your way through this, you might want to pick a couple of JBP that don't have much "potential" as bonsai and start managing them as you might finer trees as you move forward. Keep some detailed notes and pictures and keep us posted.

I have been up to the Daintree, my wife and I drove up from the NSW/Vic border (on the coast) up to Cooktown and then over to Mount Isa. 4 weeks of great camping and  touring.
John
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Adair M on November 05, 2011, 06:47 PM
I spent the morning over at Plant City Bonsai in Clermont, GA.  Warren Hill had been in last weekend giving workshops.  Warren is known as a "black pine expert".  And he was teaching to remove fall candles.  And, several of the trees at the shop were used as demonstration trees, so I will able to see how they do.  I was not able to go to the workshop, so I don't know if Warren prefers fall decandling, or if he suggested fall decandling because these trees had not been decandled last summer when they were supposed to have been.  I was also told that when the buds do expand in the spring after a fall decandling, they should be pinched back, per Warren.

I did not see that any of the "last years" needles were pulled, so the trees had this years' needles, and last year's needles, and the terminal buds were gone.  The trees I saw were not wired.  I mentioned that they needed detail wiring, and the owner, Steve, agreed, and said he hoped to find to find time to do it.

Personally, I'm sticking with the training program as described in Boon's JBP video series.  But, it will be interesting to see how the fall decandled trees at the shop fare.  Sorry, I did not take any pictures, but the trees looked just like they do after a regular summer decandling.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Owen Reich on November 05, 2011, 10:43 PM
I may not be understanding this right, but how many of buds are pulled?  This technique seems a bit risky to me.  I have been taught to candle prune completely on vigorous shoots once shoots elongate but do not open in Spring.  I think John Calloway's statement was telling for sure.  It may work, but using the trees ability to multiply shoots by spring work works reliably.  Being in a non-tropical zone (I am actually from Atlanta), I do not see this as a good idea (fall bud removal) from a physiological standpoint.  Has anyone else from the Southeast done this successfully without stressing their trees?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Adair M on November 06, 2011, 08:12 AM
Owen,

I did not go to the workshop, I am only describing what I saw on the trees that he (Warren) used as demonstrations, and what someone who was at the workhop "said he said".  But, the workshop attendee was a novice, and so things might have not been understood correctly....

What I saw was the termnal buds were candle pruned.  Right at the base of the bud stem.  I did see some adventitious buds left.  The tree had the appearance of what a freshly decandled tree looks like in July. 

When the adventitious buds develop in the spring, they should be pinched back before the needles start to emerge from the sheaths.  Or so I was told.

Owen,  Plant City Bonsai is in Clermont, about an hour north of Atlanta, maybe 25 miles north of Gainesville.  I did bring home some akadama and pumice to make my soil for next year's potting.

This is supposed to encourage the tree to bud back on old wood.

Some other things I noticed:

The two trees I saw that Warren had done were trees that had been in training at the shop for several years.  As such, they were attractive but not intensively trained.  Neither had any wire on now, but you could tell they had been wired several times in their past.  Both trees were getting leggy.  When looking at the branches, you could see where the center buds had been allowed to grow about an inch and then pinched back over the past 4 or 5 years, so there were few branches.

So, since I wasn't at the workshop to speak to Warren directly to get clarification, I don't know if the technique he demonstrated was his "usual" technique, or one to use in "exceptional" cases to make up for missed training in the past.  I was given the impression by the person that I spoke with (who did attend the workshop) that this was his preferred technique, and you can do it 4 years, then give the tree a year off.

My thoughts are:  since this technique is forcing the tree to use it's adventitious buds in the spring, and since they are less vigorous than the terminal buds, the tree will have excess energy to direct towards creating back buds on old wood (which these two trees needed very badly).  The tradeoff is since some of the needles on the adventitious buds will be allowed to grow all season, the needles will be long.  (The adventitious buds are pinched back in the spring, but not removed in the summer.)

A question I have:  When decandling in the summer, the adventitious buds that emerge have little of the "stem" with no needles (or buds).  That's a good thing.  Will the adventitious buds have stems if the terminal bud is removed in the fall since the tree will be full of springtime energy?  I will be sure to go back to the shop and check on them next spring to see.  Will the spring adventitious buds pop needle buds if they are pinched back?

Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on November 06, 2011, 09:41 AM
It seems there are a number of techniques specific to JBP.  Some I would advise against using without detailed knowledge of their implementation,  timing, desired effects and outcome.

Jonas described Fall Decandling on his blog here (http://bonsaitonight.com/2010/10/08/fall-decandling/), here (http://bonsaitonight.com/2011/08/05/fall-decandling-year-two/), and here (http://bonsaitonight.com/2011/08/09/brushing-branches/).

Peter described a new technique that seems a bit scary here (http://web.me.com/petertea/PeterTeaBonsai/Aichi-en_Journal/Entries/2011/4/15_New_Black_Pine_technique.html) and here (http://peterteabonsai.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/remember-me/).

After finally getting a chance to review the Bonsai Today article in question, there seems to be a bit of detail missing.  That, and the picture of the JBP with the half-dead root base featured in the article left much to be desired.

My advice would be to find the trees you think are the best, ask about the techniques applied to them, and work to improve your trees with proven methods.  Beware the traveling bonsai artist that doesn't have a firm grasp on what he's preaching.  

I'm much too cautious to experiment with my trees these days.  I look forward to hearing about the successes of others.  :)

Oh, and it's "Callaway".  ;)
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Owen Reich on November 06, 2011, 06:23 PM
Sorry John. I will remember in the future.  Adair, I am familiar with Plant City Bonsai and have known Steve for many years.  I've bought a few trees and even helped him find some material.  Nice guy.  Thanks for the clarification on what you saw and heard. 
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Adair M on November 07, 2011, 07:30 AM
John,

Great links to the different techniques!

It's interesting that Jonas' teacher says the buds that develop after the fall decandling are supposed to be decandled again at the regular time in the following summer!  My intuition says that the fall decandling would stimulate the adventitious buds that a normal spring decandling would activate, only earlier.  If those are activated early, and then they are cut off, what buds are left?  (I'm not arguing... I'm just asking!)

Whoa!  That second method (Peter's) of pulling all the needles is scary.... But, on the other hand, it sounds like the buds were left alone.  It's not as if the terminal buds were cut off and all the green was gone.  The presence of the buds keeps the sap line going.  The end result had fairly long needles.  I wonder if it had been done later in the growing season the needles would be shorter? 

It will be interesting to follow the progress of these "alternative" techniques and see how well they work over time. 
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Josh on November 07, 2011, 10:23 PM
Thanks to all those who replied to this thread.  Lots of great information came forward.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: boon on November 08, 2011, 03:22 PM
John,

Great links to the different techniques!

It's interesting that Jonas' teacher says the buds that develop after the fall decandling are supposed to be decandled again at the regular time in the following summer!  My intuition says that the fall decandling would stimulate the adventitious buds that a normal spring decandling would activate, only earlier.  If those are activated early, and then they are cut off, what buds are left?  (I'm not arguing... I'm just asking!)

REG TIME- JUNE -JULY DECANDL WILL NOT ACTIVATE AS MUCH AS FALL DECANDLE.  IF YOU CUT THOSE BUDS THE SECOND TIME, YOU WILL WEAKENED THE TREE AND I HAVE SEEN SOME GOOD TREES DIED FROM OVER PRUNING AND PRUNNING HARD TOO MANY TIME IN A YEAR

 
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: Adair M on November 08, 2011, 08:36 PM
Boon,

Thanks for adding to the conversation. 

Personally, I'm going to stick with the techniques you outline in your DVD series.   It  will be interesting to see what happens to the fall decandled trees that Warren used as demonstration trees over the next year.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on November 13, 2011, 07:13 PM
I talked with Ernie today and he said that he would still follow the techniques he has written about in the past. His technique in a nutshell is that when you are trying to develop branches and ramification on a black pine you prune the spring candle in June or July at the appropriate length for the branch you are trying to build. Shorter pruning if you need a shorter internode, leave candle longer if you want branch longer. During this branch building phase he does not suggest needle thinning for purposes of energy balance it will only hinder/slow the trees ability to build branches. once branches are set then needle thinning and bud pinching are used to produce short needles and balance the trees energy. He doesn't currently practice the candle pruning method as he no longer has any black pines that are in this phase of development
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on November 13, 2011, 08:26 PM
I must have read a different article.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: bwaynef on November 13, 2011, 08:47 PM
I must have read a different article.

What did the article YOU read say?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on November 13, 2011, 09:21 PM
maybe he has written or published something since. I apologize i did not specify the Bonsai Today article.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: MatsuBonsai on November 14, 2011, 09:12 PM
What did the article YOU read say?

The article I read was the one referenced by Josh.  It was a few weeks ago at the end of a long jet-lagged day, but from what I remember it seemed to emphasize Spring and Fall bud removal.  I don't remember a whole lot about the article. 

Perhaps someone that owns a copy can give a more accurate synopsis?
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on November 14, 2011, 10:12 PM
i think whats more important is that he does not currently practice that so unless i misundersttod him i would abandon this technique
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: nathanbs on November 15, 2011, 10:12 AM
or atleast do not try it because he said so
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: jtucker on November 19, 2011, 04:30 PM
I'm just starting to understand black pines (meaning not much at all) but it seems that, according to Nathan's conversation with Mr. Kuo, this technique might just possibly be useful in certain climates and with trees in a certain development phase...

That said, just in from an experimental/scientific point of view, I wouldn't NOT try it just because Mr. Kuo doesn't do it anymore, but I would also KEEP IN MIND the cautions that Boon has given us that this technique can severely weaken and even kill a tree.

So try it if you're interested, but don't do it on one of your prize winners.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: John Kirby on November 19, 2011, 08:16 PM
Um, No. Retread. Just do it right.
Title: Re: JBP Experts, needle/candle treatment by Ernie Kuo?
Post by: scottroxburgh on November 21, 2011, 12:17 AM
Hmmm...If I knock all of the corners off my square I might just be able to roll around on this thing ??? ::)