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Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

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Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby calvertwood » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:32 am

Bright red spots on the bark, mainly on sycamore logs, followed by the bark falling off, the appearance of black 'soot', and weight loss in the logs (desiccation? or rotting?). The pile is 16 months old and stored in my wood, under a loose tarp.

Is this coral spot? If so, do I need to worry? Is the calorific value of the logs affected? Any precautions I should take? All advice welcome.
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Re: Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby oldclaypaws » Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:34 pm

If you cover a pile of close packed fresh green logs completely with a tarp in a damp location, you trap the moisture and heat and create the perfect conditions for rot. I've found uncovered loose log heaps left in a clearing dry quite nicely when exposed to the sun and wind, only any ones in direct contact with the ground for a year or more show signs of spalting and decay. Ventilation and not having them too close together are important to dry them out, the wood needs to breath and be exposed to the elements to season. Big logs will need to be either split or cut into rounds. Its the same principle with planked commercial timber, its carefully stacked with spacers so that the air can get through it, under cover but ventilated so that the moisture can escape.

Suggest in future you try leaving logs loosely stacked, exposed and uncovered, off the ground on bearers and where they get a bit of air, for no more than a few months before then chopping to size and putting in in a wood store. There's that nice new book on Norwegian wood stacking in the shops in time for Christmas.

There are dormant fungus spores in all woods, waiting for a nice dead damp log. The less ventilation on the log, the happier they are.

On a positive note, sounds like you've created some great rotting deadwood heaps for bugs which should benefit the ecology. :)
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Re: Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby calvertwood » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:52 am

Thanks, OCP.

At home, I stack 1' stove-ready logs to a height of 2' in a single south-west-facing row, for final drying, and I don't cover, as I think the wind will do the job.

In the wood, though, I stack the 4' cordwood end-on to the wind, in piles 8' wide by 6' high, and I do cover with a tarpaulin cap, to keep rain from reaching and stagnating in the lower levels of the pile; I leave the sides fully open, though. I used not to bother with a tarp, and am still undecided whether it's a good thing or not.

I think you're right that I'm stacking the cordwood too tight. I'll try changing to 4' x 4' piles, with each layer at 90 degrees to the previous one, so the logs can be more distant from each other. If that does improve the air circulation, I may not bother with a tarp at all.

Meanwhile, I'm finding that my coral spot-infected logs are burning surprisingly well; they are much lighter than the un-infected logs, and they cut and look like dead wood, but they seem to have desiccated without rotting and without losing calorific value.
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Re: Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby Terry » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:57 am

I would stack cordwood losely in the wood and not bother with a tarp. Any way to keep air circulation up is worth trying as is keeping it off the ground.

Regarding the 'coral spot' infected wood, you say it is mostly sycamore?
I find sycamore is generally a lot lighter and drier than most other woods when seasoned for a similar amount of time, regardless of any fungal or other issues.
The bark falling off is normal and the black 'soot' sounds familiar and is probably just another fungus that likes the environment you have created.
And yes, it does burn well :)
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Re: Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby Rich » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:09 am

If I've cut wood of a size that does not require splitting, (the best size!) up to say 3 or 4 inches in diameter and I'm stacking it as cord wood in 4ft lengths, I reakon it needs 2 years seasoning. The water in a bark tube needs a lot longer to escape than a split length. Running a chainsaw down the length of your cord to break the bark can really help in the drying process.

The first year I stack it uncovered, if I can, I create my cordwood stacks by laying cross barers length ways this really lets the air in to circulate.

Image

The second year I cover it as I use it and try to work the stack down so the water runs off easily.
Image

works for me.
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Re: Coral spot fungus in coppiced cordwood pile

Postby calvertwood » Tue May 24, 2016 5:05 pm

Thanks all, belatedly, for the suggestions. Here's an update on my seasoning problems. I took to heart your views that I was stacking the wood too tight, so now I'm using bearers, to improve the air-flow, and I'm being more rigorous about splitting any log over about 20cm diameter (which I do with my wonderful Fireside Friend https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000KL0WVG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

I'm still in two minds about whether or not to cover with a tarp. The main thing is that I haven't had a return of the coral spot. Also, the logs seem to be drying better, and the ash logs make a delightful musical 'chink!' when tapped on the ends.

Photo shows a typical pile, with Welsh Terrier for scale.
Attachments
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