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What to cut ? Woods to savannah conversation SilvoPasture

 
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Hi, my farm is in mid Missouri, the property is mostly pasture, but there are trees along the fence row, in the back 40 there is a dry(ish) creek that has some woods and brush on the edges.  I have cattle I would like to graze in a system similar to Greg Judy. I want to keep trees on the property, and even plant more ( orchard , and lumber ) I would first like to start by improving the woods I have.

What trees do I cut , what do I keep? Obviously this will be hard to answer, but what are some general things to look for and theories on sustainable woodland management . Do I cut big trees, small trees , dead trees , should I prune and clean up other trees? Leave standing dead ? What percentage should I cut?


Thanks
 
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T Sousley,

I will take a stab at this project for you.  Please bear in mind that these are just my thoughts based on a small amount of information.

Regarding your orchard, I would plant those trees close to your house as possible to ease the surprising amount of maintenance they require, especially at the beginning.  If possible, cut nothing.

What exactly are your plans for lumber?  Do you plan to plant trees to harvest for lumber in the future?  Do you need lumber now?  If instead of lumber, do you want a source of firewood?  Before I can give you any information I need some information from you.

Give me a few more details and I might be able to help.

Best wishes,

Eric
 
T Sousley
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Thanks for your reply.

We have terraces , so our idea is to plant trees on those and graze in between, and then eventually graze under the trees when they are big enough.  In a permaculture orchard/silvo pasture type set up, but not limited to fruit trees, also include shrubs, nuts , vines , n fixers etc.. As far as timber for fire wood, animal fodder, wildlife, and of course lumber I'm thinking in the back pasture where there are already a fair amount of trees, I would thin , and use the wood in the best possible way for each tree, but I would thin to encourage grass, but then also plant not trees , for wood. I figure improving the current stand will give benefits this year and next , especially in improving grazing , then fruit trees will be about a 3-5 year investment before the return, and timber will be much further in the future ( other than harvesting what's already there).

So really it's more about what to cut to improve the woods currently. If that means taking out large trees so little one can grow, or cutting out little ones to big ones can grow I don't know. If it means cutting out sick trees, or if it means trimming them up. If it means cutting 10% 20% etc. Idk . So really I'm just lost on what to cut to improve a stand .

I don't want to cut and then realize I made a huge mistake by removing a 100 year old tree , or some rare native tree or what not . Or turned a nice lumber tree into firewood etc. Cleaning up woods just scares me , because I see the destruction it often is tied to conventionally, and don't want to get advice from someone who isn't sustainably focused so I figured the people on  permies forum could help me make these decisions in a way that's best for environment, wildlife, livestock, and me.


Thanks

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Eric Hanson
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Nice pictures btw,

I think I have a better idea now of what you have in mind.  From what I gather, your orchard is pretty straightforward.  It is the lumber that is the difficult aspect.

If you are really wanting a significant quantity of lumber in a short to medium time frame (read from now to about 20 years), then your best bet will likely to be to clear out weed trees and woody shrubs and immediately plant out your desired species of tree for lumber harvest.  I would also take out the dead trees.  You will have a significant amount of woody debris left over and I recommend that you get a large wood chipper and turn that wood into woodchips.  I am in the process of converting all of my garden beds to woodchips broken down by mushrooms.  I am about 2 years into a 3-4 year project and so far it is going well.  I could go on and on about woodchips and mushrooms but I will try to stay back on track.

For the actual harvest of lumber, unfortunately you have a decision to make that will likely be clouded by emotion.  Those large trees are likely to give you the most lumber.  Unfortunately, who wants to cut down a 200 year old oak?  You could cut them and immediately replant.  This would bring light into the lower canopy and help the younger trees grow faster.  I am not saying that you should do this, as I would have a very hard time cutting a huge tree of almost any species.

Alternatively you could cut a lot of the younger trees and immediately replant.  Either approach may work for you.

I wish I had a more precise option for you, but maybe some others might jump in and give some input.

Eric

 
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Definitely do away with diseased, weak trees
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