I recently purchased 10 acres of pretty much all woods. The trees are large poplar, oak, and hickory with some pines mixed in. I guess i am looking for a place to start with managing the woods. I have a few lumber guys coming out to give me prices on harvesting some of the trees. Now i am second guessing that approach. Id also like to start converting some of the forest into nut trees. as it is now there is no room in the canopy to grow any more trees. My end goal is to create a healthy forest that i can harvest from for building or money when need be. Does anyone have words of wisdom on forest management? where to start? any good books?
If you wish to convert to a food forest and there is no room for nut or fruit trees you will need to remove some trees. The first thing I would do its walk through and find what trees I (the human caretaker) find valuable, and what trees the wildlife uses most. Then simply ignore the given price for those trees. Selectively remove 25-35% of the trees and use the money to to buy edible trees and shrubs to fill the gaps. If you don't, Gaia will fill them for you. Make sure the tree people chip the branches and stuff for you. You can then use it for growing edible mushrooms. If you have a honey fungus problem, Paul stamets recommends oyster mushrooms. Even if you don't like mushrooms don't neglect this part. Mushrooms are one of the most important ecosystem puzzle pieces. After that you may want to spend a few years removing troublesome shrubs and herbs and reseeding them with desirables. If you have a desire for livestock you may want to alter this a bit and post your questions in the animal forums.
As for books I recommend 2 above all others mycelium running and gaia's garden. There are many others but I think these cover most of the basic and important topics.
I always go through and thin trees that are struggling or dangerous( tilting half way sideways for example) I might thin a few dead trees or limb them back so only the main branches stand, birds of prey love dead trees to hang out in. And last would be trees I find useful for a purpose I already know I need, not something i might need in the future. Some trees are thinned to create more shade/sun edge as well.
That is after I select the best trees to be forever immune to cutting.
Replacing the canopy is easy if you buy your trees in bulk and bareroot. Diversify as much as possible in species.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
thanks for the info everyone. I met with a select cut logger today that uses a bobcat to get the logs in and out to minimize damage to the land.
I am going to leave all the stumps of the poplar and oak. the oaks i am going to fill with mushroom spores and the poplar i am thinking of trying to cultivate one of the sap suckers into the next generation. I read this is one of the best ways to regrow poplars. anyone have any experience with this?
Poplar is a sort lived species. If they are large they may be getting to the end of their life so maybe take them first. If you leave the oak it will seed the area where the poplar were. Look for a logger with a winch, so they can get the log out without having to move equipment off of the trail.
The sun's a light bulb and the moon is a mirror-- Gord Downie
I work as a consulting Forester for a living. I set up and administer private timber sales quite often. If you are still looking for advice I have a few questions for you.
You said your trees were large, can you be more specific? The commonly used measure is the trunk diameter 4.5 feet above ground level. This is an important measure since many trees over, say, 14" at this point are large enough for higher value markets like rail road ties and grade lumber.
Could you be more specific about some of your species? Any guesses as to the types of oaks you have? Red or White, or even species? Red oaks in your area will generally have dark bark that holds tight to the tree, their leaves also come to a point at the tip of each lobe. White oaks generally have lighter bark that will flake off in small pieces when you rub it with your hand. White oak leaves do not have points on the lobes. White oaks live much longer than Reds and can be 2-3 times more valuable (depending on size, species, and tree grade). I am guessing if you are in North Carolina that the "poplars" you have are Tulip Poplars "Liriodendron Tulipifera"? If that is the case disregard the earlier comment about poplars being short lived. Tulip poplars are not "true" "Populus" "Poplars", they are very long lived and highly sought after for timber.
Using a "selective" logger is the way to go, but I would give a few words of caution. Did you get any references? Could you check out some areas he has logged in the past? If your land is less than 20-30% slope his machine will do a great job getting around and minimizing damage. The term "selective" means different things to different people. If you have large (diameter/height) high value (depends on size, species, and tree grade) trees it could mean a "high grade" or "diameter limit" cut. This would essentially take out all the commercially valuable species in the woods. While this kind of harvest usually leaves many trees standing it guts the diversity and future value of the forest. The ideal way to harvest would be to take some of all the species in all the diameter classes out in a stand wide thinning. That would likely mean you take a few very large, more medium, and a lot of small trees out all at the same time. Specifics would depend on the diameter distribution of your property. Shawn's advice to remove about 30% (of both total number of stems and standing volume) is a good rule of thumb. The small tree (here I mean 10" diameter down to 1" diameter) removal would likely have to be done by you. The small tree thinning is often the hardest to explain. In trees there is a very loose relationship between diameter and age. In a thick stand many of the 3-10" diameter trees can be as old as the trees 2-3 times their size, they simply lost the race for the sun and got over topped. Just because they are small does not mean they will be able to respond to a thinning by growing larger. By removing some of these older/smaller trees you are allowing the more vigorous saplings to really take off, and that is where you want your growth to be concentrated.
By thinning this way you would open all layers of the canopy and make some significant canopy holes ( a single 20-30" diameter oak can have a canopy that covers 1/4 acre or more). This lets you have a mix of direct and diffuse light on the forest floor. It allows for the most diversity of regeneration. If you are wanting to add edibles I would suggest looking into your state nursery. You should be able to get many of the native fruit and nut trees as bare root seedlings for well under a dollar a piece. Post thinning would be an ideal time to plant as many species as you can get in the ground. If you want to continue to manage this tract it is important you don't cut to heavily right now, or it would simply take to long to recover.
Your idea to select a single root sprout is a great way to propagate most hardwoods. Oaks, Hickories, Tulip and true Poplars, will all stump sprout given enough sunlight, and they will grow quite quickly off the old tree roots. I usually suggest waiting 3 years post harvest. Then select the tallest or straightest sprout present to leave and cut all the rest (don't use herbicide). Thinning the sprouts speeds up growth and prevents you from having an abundance of multi-stemmed trees.
I purchased trees from two local state nurseries and the results were mixed. In one case the trees arrived in January, while I would have preferred a few months earlier at the beginning of winter. Also they often had few lateral roots which meant it took them longer to get going. What I do now is in the fall I collect the nuts from local trees which I wish to propagate (them being local ensures they are well adapted to my situation), bury them in a good location (well drained, irrigated etc.) and a year later in October/November I plant them out. I wait for when the ground is moist so I can save as many root hairs as possible when I carefully dig them out. Also, I have concluded, you do not do the seedling/sapling any favors if you follow the maxim of a $10 hole for a $1 tree. If there are established trees nearby (and in your case there likely will be), their roots will outcompete your new trees' roots for the nourishment you provided. Which means they will be worse off than if you had snuck them in under the radar.
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thanks everyone for all the replies.
@Jay, thanks for the great reply. sorry i dont know how i missed it but really enlightening.
It seems that this guy really know what he is doing because that is exactly what we are doing. although he didnt really mention the small trees. How do i know if a tree is a small old tree or a new promising tree?
Should i keep pines? they dont really seem to hold much value.
we mainly have white oak and poplar. not really sure on the exact type of poplar.
@jay any suggestions for clean up once the logger is done. its nothing bad. there is a bobcat road going through the property. they use this road to skid the logs out too. I am going to plant cover crops and food plots on it. where its sunny i am planning on putting in wildflowers. But what do i do with all the tops (slash?)? I have been looking into having a forest mulcher come through and take care of all the stuff that is 8" or less but that is kind of costly. Then using all the big stuff for firewood and wod projects. i have been splitting some up for fence posts. Its just kind of overwhelming.
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