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Planting firewood: BTUs/acre  RSS feed

 
Posts: 567
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Good morning all,
my wife and I have 5 acres in mid Michigan, and we're heating exclusively with wood. I'd like to plant something for firewood on my own land. (In the meantime the plan will be to respond to "Free wood, you cut" ads on craigslist, and to help my neighbors clean up their fencerows.) That should do for a few years, until I can start growing something myself, and really I'll probably never be able to supply ALL my own firewood with just an acre or two out of my five to devote to it.

So my question then, is what species to plant. Willow? I hear they are the fastest growing woody species of all, and although people are down on them for being fragile and breakable trees, if I'm coppicing them for firewood, that's no downside to me.
(This guy recommends willow: http://www.thewillowbank.com/willow.firewood.facts.htm. he also sellsthem...)
I've also read that black locust grows nearly as fast as willow, and I certainly wouldn't mind having a having a ready supply of rotproof fence post, tool handles, and roundwood rafters. My wife has an unreasonable antipathy towards anything that anybody has ever labeled "invasive," so I may have a little trouble getting it by her, but they're not out of the question.


I've poked around the Internet both on Permies and elsewhere for discussions of appropriate firewood plantings, and it doesn't seem that anyone is looking at what I think ought to be the most important metric: I have a limited number of acres, and I want to create indoor heat from them. That means what I care about is annual BTUs per acre. Not feet of height per acre or even cords per year, but BTUs per acre per year. How much heat can I grow? I don't much care whether I have to cut and stack two cords or twelve cords to get my BTUs, so long as I'm getting as many BTUs as possible from my own land and not driving around the county to gather them up. (Ok, all else equal, give me one that's denser... but not at the expense of total BTU yield.) I'll be building a masonry heater this summer, so I'll be perfectly happy to cut and burn 3" sticks rather than waiting for 20" trunks to grow and then splitting them.


So what do I plant? Willow? Black locust? Birch? Something else entirely? Your input and any links you can provide to good resources on the subject will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Lots of people have thought about this dilemma for a long time. Generally, the faster a tree grows, the lighter and less dense the wood will be, and, thus, the heat output will be less. Very hard dense woods will produce the most heat, but they also tend to grow slowly. In every climate where people have lived for a long time and where trees have gone into relatively short supply, a few species have risen to the top as being the best compromise between the two extremes. For northern temperate climates; this short list will be topped by ash, locust, alder, perhaps closely followed by birch, elm, and maple. Unfortunately ash may be on the way out in your region.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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It might be difficult to find, but there is a wonderful old book, "Camping and Woodcraft", by Horace Kephart, first published in something like 1916, which has an extensive list of different trees by many various qualities, including their burning qualities....As well as many other tidbits difficult to find elsewhere....
 
Mike Cantrell
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Alder Burns wrote:Lots of people have thought about this dilemma for a long time. Generally, the faster a tree grows, the lighter and less dense the wood will be, and, thus, the heat output will be less. Very hard dense woods will produce the most heat, but they also tend to grow slowly.



Right. And so on average, it probably goes like this:

LIGHT: 50 cords/yr. 2 BTUs/cord. =100 BTUs/yr
MEDIUM: 10 cords/yr. 10 BTUs/cord. =100 BTUs/yr.
HEAVY: 2 cords/yr. 50 BTUs/cord. =100 BTUs/yr.

(These are obviously nonsense numbers for the sake of being clear.)

But that's got to be only on average. SURELY some trees are 105s or 110s, right?
I mean, even if you told me, no, every single woody plant produces exactly the same biomass per quantity of sunshine, they're ALL 100s... even then, some must surely make more leaves and less wood, or more bark and less wood, or more roots and less wood, and therefor some make more wood!

So that's what I'm after. Out of the trees that grow successfully in Michigan (or USDA zone 5b if that's easier), what yields the most firewood per year?
 
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I'm not totally sure this is the correct article because it is long and I only skimmed it looking for familiar info. http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/hybrid-poplars-zmaz80jazraw.aspx If I rememer the article correctly, they managed to completely wood-heat a home in someplace cold on only 1 acre of woodlot, broken up into 4 quarter acre lots and harvested on a rotating 4 year cycle. They needed a lot more bundles of wood but they got it from how fast the wood grew. It was the only type of wood that they found they could use to wood-heat their home on 1 acre of woodlot.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Well, I'm doing a little more homework.

Industry is leaning toward willow and poplar:
biomassmagazine.com/articles/5209/cream-of-the-coppice

In California, they can grow 20 dry tons per acre per year with Eucalyptus:
http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/newtown_square/publications/research_papers/pdfs/scanned/OCR/ne_rp466.pdf

Long and boring (tl;dr = black locust and maple are good), but full of excellent info, " Biomass yield and cost analysis (4th year) of various tree species grown under a short rotation management scheme in eastern Kansas":
http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/ch/ch03/CHvolume03page315.pdf

University of Illinois likes Black Locust too (Year 3, 12Mg/ha or 26.9 tons/acre (1 megagram/hectare =2.24 tons/acre), that seems implausible, wow):
http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/black-locust-showing-promise-biomass-potential

From Energy Plant Species: Their Use and Impact on Environment and Development by Nasir El Bassam (mostly viewable on Google Books):

"In comparison to other wood species, black locust produces the highest biomass yield as a result of its early growth and high density. In field experiments in Austria, annual dry matter production between 5 and 10 t/ha was reached by three and four year rotations of black locust stand from 10,000 trees/ha (Muller, 1990). The four year rotation reached an increase of yearly dry matter yield that was some 1.4 times higher than that for the three year rotation. The moisture content of the wood ranged between 30% and 38%."
Also:
"Experiments have shown that the heating value of the bark is higher than that of the wood: Strigner and Carpenter (1986) reported average heating values of 20.81MJ/kg for bark compared with 19.4MJ/kg for wood."
 
Posts: 131
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If it were me, and I were just interested in firewood, I would see what is trying to grow there now and seriously consider just letting it grow thinning and coppicing from time to time. You will likely be able to get a large part of your firewood from other parts of your land and from helping friends from time to time. However, firewood takes so long to grow and is such a low value product, I would be thinking about ways to stack functions.
 
Posts: 1947
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Industry is heading towards willow because it can be harvested efficiently by essentially conventional machinery, and can be chipped easily. Not necessarily factors for a small scale production.

My view would be to plant with a mix of species that also produce secondary crops - fruit, nuts etc...

Nitrogen fixers can be coppiced and standard apples left to grow slowly yielding fruit, increased fertility and fuel wood from the same space.

Regarding wood - denser woods generally are better - you needed to handle far less of it to keep the fire going. We burn chestnut coppice and some occasional oak. When we are burning oak we load the fire far less frequently.

Big steps to needing less fuel come from insulating a draft proofing the house properly, as well as using an efficient stove.
 
Posts: 185
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Brian, thanks for the Mother Earth article. It's from 1980. I searched the Fry nursery and they still sell the hybrid poplars for fast growing shade, phytoremediation, strip mine regrowth, cordwood. They are at http://frysvillefarms.com
 
Michael Cox
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Poplar has been pretty much the worst firewood we have tried - we cut and stacked it and came back a year later to collect it and burn it. The splits were so light they might have been balsa wood and burnt through 4 times as fast as our chestnut. We didn't collect the rest because it was so hopeless for heating.

Go for something denser that coppices well - locust, chestnut, hornbeam etc...
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1947
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Mike Cantrell wrote:Well, I'm doing a little more homework.

Industry is leaning toward willow and poplar:
biomassmagazine.com/articles/5209/cream-of-the-coppice

In California, they can grow 20 dry tons per acre per year with Eucalyptus:
http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/newtown_square/publications/research_papers/pdfs/scanned/OCR/ne_rp466.pdf

Long and boring (tl;dr = black locust and maple are good), but full of excellent info, " Biomass yield and cost analysis (4th year) of various tree species grown under a short rotation management scheme in eastern Kansas":
http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/ch/ch03/CHvolume03page315.pdf

University of Illinois likes Black Locust too (Year 3, 12Mg/ha or 26.9 tons/acre (1 megagram/hectare =2.24 tons/acre), that seems implausible, wow):
http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/black-locust-showing-promise-biomass-potential

From Energy Plant Species: Their Use and Impact on Environment and Development by Nasir El Bassam (mostly viewable on Google Books):

"In comparison to other wood species, black locust produces the highest biomass yield as a result of its early growth and high density. In field experiments in Austria, annual dry matter production between 5 and 10 t/ha was reached by three and four year rotations of black locust stand from 10,000 trees/ha (Muller, 1990). The four year rotation reached an increase of yearly dry matter yield that was some 1.4 times higher than that for the three year rotation. The moisture content of the wood ranged between 30% and 38%."
Also:
"Experiments have shown that the heating value of the bark is higher than that of the wood: Strigner and Carpenter (1986) reported average heating values of 20.81MJ/kg for bark compared with 19.4MJ/kg for wood."



Mike - I think these figures are deceptive as they are based on chipping for massive scale furnaces, replacing coal and the like. Other factor become considerable more important when hand processing on small scales.
 
Posts: 3366
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There is definitely a difference in scale processing. I don't like cottonwood, poplar, or willow because they are soft and wet to cut with chainsaw and stack, but very light to burn--you are moving more water than wood. And they burn up chains as fast as a good hardwood. But they grow fast and in areas others won't. So plant a few to get a fast wood crop, or plant the wet spots that would drown out other species.

Locust is a legume and common support tree for food forest establishment. Most will get cut down in 5-10 years, so that is your woodlot for a few years.

I want diversity in my woodlot, just in case some new bug or disease runs through.

Ben Falk's book puts some energy to woodlots. Kephart's book is available online. And there is a 50's USDA version online, too. All good.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Luke Townsley wrote:If it were me, and I were just interested in firewood, I would see what is trying to grow there now and seriously consider just letting it grow thinning and coppicing from time to time. You will likely be able to get a large part of your firewood from other parts of your land and from helping friends from time to time. However, firewood takes so long to grow and is such a low value product, I would be thinking about ways to stack functions.


Right now, it's almost all grass and goldenrod, with a little corner of mature mixed hardwoods (walnut, oak, maple). I have a single flourishing black willow, big enough for a hundred or two cuttings to take and propagate, if I went that route. There are big stands of black locust up the road, but none on my land. (So they're suitable for this area, but I don't have any yet.)


I don't know that it's such a low value. I'm buying it all this year because of life circumstances, and it's going to add up to about $700. That's not the biggest item on my annual budget, but it's not the smallest either. It's worth it to me to spend some effort to meet the need on an ongoing basis.

Michael Cox wrote:Mike - I think these figures are deceptive as they are based on chipping for massive scale furnaces, replacing coal and the like. Other factor become considerable more important when hand processing on small scales.


Good point!

Michael Cox wrote: Big steps to needing less fuel come from insulating a draft proofing the house properly, as well as using an efficient stove.


Right, working on that too. Masonry stove!

Michael Cox wrote: My view would be to plant with a mix of species that also produce secondary crops - fruit, nuts etc...
Nitrogen fixers can be coppiced and standard apples left to grow slowly yielding fruit, increased fertility and fuel wood from the same space.
Regarding wood - denser woods generally are better - you needed to handle far less of it to keep the fire going. We burn chestnut coppice and some occasional oak. When we are burning oak we load the fire far less frequently.


That sounds like a vote for black locusts, but not monoculture, of course. My wife's crazy for pecans, so maybe if I present the locust trees as nurses for the pecans she wants, we might get somewhere. Then I get to mix in the fruit trees that I want. Now we're talking.

R Scott wrote:Locust is a legume and common support tree for food forest establishment. Most will get cut down in 5-10 years, so that is your woodlot for a few years.


Another vote for black locust! This sounds like the beginning of a plan.
 
Luke Townsley
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Do keep a least a willow or two. The natural rabbit forums are all abuzz about feeding it to rabbits. BTW, I love locust, and the thorns might help keep the deer from eating them. Probably won't impress the wife though...

Around here (timbered southern Indiana) firewood pretty much sells for the cost of the labor/equipment to cut it up. There is really no value in the wood itself. No one here sells timber for firewood. Pulpwood pretty much pays for hauling it to the mill. Your area might be different. The convenience of having it on your own land is worth something though.
 
steward
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I certainly agree with having a mixed species wood lot. And, I believe that Black Locust should be one of those species.
This is what J.L. Hudson has to say about them:

'BLACK LOCUST', 'FALSE ACACIA'. Fragrant white pea-like flowers in dense clusters to 4 - 8" long
in May and June. Open-crowned tree to 80 feet, with graceful pinnate leaves. E. and Central U.S.
Zone 3. A valuable and useful tree, producing hard, durable wood, and an excellent fuelwood crop.
Produces up to 100 cubic meters per hectare at 10 - 20 years old, and can be coppiced.
Good erosion control and soil builder, fixing 600 lbs N/acre in 20 year old stands.
Good wildlife browse and bee forage, producing an exceptionally fine honey.
The leaves crushed in water have been used to kill flies. The seeds are said to have been
boiled for food by the Indians, but are toxic raw. One of our finest native trees.
Yet another native species being falsely labeled an alien invader and being killed in the eastern US.



If you cannot collect seeds locally, you can get around 6,000 seeds for $3.40 from Trees & Shrubs

If you want those rot resistant fence posts, you will probably need to wait for 10-20 years. The 3-5 year wood wont be mature enough yet.

 
Posts: 200
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Think about Osage Orange. From what I've read the BTU level is crazy high, approaching the level of coal. They could also form part of a living fence around your place and it is supposed to coppice well.

You might also want to check out http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2006/05/top-10-fuel-trees-for-zone-5-and-above.html
 
Luke Townsley
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True that about the BTU value of Osage Orange, or Hedge as it is sometimes called. People in areas with a lot of it often won't burn it saying it gets so hot it will burn up their stove. It is almost most like burning coal. They also complain about it dulling saw chains in no time flat.
 
Mike Cantrell
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Jerry Ward wrote:Think about Osage Orange. From what I've read the BTU level is crazy high, approaching the level of coal. They could also form part of a living fence around your place and it is supposed to coppice well.

You might also want to check out http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2006/05/top-10-fuel-trees-for-zone-5-and-above.html



Hey, thanks for the link! I like that.

I do like Osage Orange (also Maclura pomifera, Bois D'Arc, Bodark, Hedge, Hedge Apple, Horse Apple, or this is one I've never heard in real life but just saw on Wikipedia.... Monkeyball)- as far as useful wood, it's even better than Black Locust. I've made some knife handles with Osage, and it's mighty pretty.


(Here's one I did a couple years ago- it's lightly torched for that color. Cool, eh?)




Osage also brings big bucks from bowyers, who say it's hard to find straight staves of any reasonable length.
But for firewood, my impression is that it grows mighty slow, although I'm not able to find a solid figure. (The absence of a ready resource saying, "look how many tons of Maclura pomifera per acre we grew!" might be indicative by itself...)

The upshot then is, I'd like to grow some, but I'm not going to count on it for my firewood plantation.
 
steward
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This is what I'd do. In fact, I am doing something very similar this spring.
-chestnuts from Badgersett
-locust from Lawyers
-walnuts (or hicans/butternuts/etc), oaks and pears for your grandchildren. And Korean pine for the nuts.
-Could throw in something stupidly fast that you would pull out first, like poplar, giving the trees for the next generation more room eventually.

Interplant with the spacing set for future coppicing of chestnuts and locusts. Say a grid of 20 x 20. L=locust, etc.
L C L W L C L O
P L C L O L C L
(this is how Stefan Sobkowiak has laid out his support trees at Miracle Farm. The locusts are cheap from Lawyers.)

3 chestnuts at every spot on their grid, with the intention of seeing which of the three makes the best nuts by year 5, then remove the other too (Badgersett recommends 1.5-3' spacing for large plantings)

Get some bees in year 3-4. Locust and chestnut honeys sell for premium prices.
In ten years you will know which was the best, but until you do the experiment, it's all theory.

Edited to add:
Perry pears on a full size rootstock. You should find a good market for them in Michigan with all your new cideries popping up, they need much less care and the harvest is much easier.
 
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Can you coppice ash, and if you can would that not be a way to preserve them? Most of, what I think are ash, seem to be dying from the top down, if coppicing
preserves the root, maybe we can out last the beetle. Or maybe the tree can build a defense from continual attack. Would hate to see them dissapear the way a
tree I knew as a little girl did. A popular I think. Real tall, thin and straight. Remember my grandfather cutting them down at the boarder between his lawn and
the small woods on his lot. What really sticks out is them being along the tracks on Broadway St. leading into Buffalo. They never replaced them with anything
and it's an ugly barren stretch now.
Also if you were to grow hedgerows for natural pasture fencing, what would you consider using if you wanted to be able to copice for firewood. As a stacking
funtion. Though the locust sounds perfect, from what I've read, so far. I'm not planning on a huge heard of anything. Rotational grazing of half a doz. goats. 2 highland cows and a
calf from each by-yearly. Couple pigs, and poultry. All on 26 acres.
 
Posts: 65
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It's our 5th year burning black locust and while it is hard on the saw, it is great firewood. Anytime I burn something else I am reminded just how great.

It coppices very well, and will grow on sandy Michigan soils with no attention. It leafs out later than many others, so it is less of a nuisance than many other species when it's growing to the south of a garden. Its the kind of dappled shade you can benefit from on a hot dry day. Hops do well growing up it.
Great uses as rot resistant lumber.

I wish it were more "invasive". I may consider helping it along. It was my wife's grandfather's favorite tree, and may become mine if we get any more winters like this past one.

Also, I have thought about the ash coppicing idea, and tried it. It coppices vigorously, but it's in full sun, so mine will not make straight poles. Looks very healthy though, 2 years later. I wonder if we can save the ash trees here after all.
 
Posts: 1791
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All plants have about the same conversation ratio for sunlight and so produce the same amount of btu per acre under optimum conditions.
Given that nature is not always under optimum conditions plants that fix there own nitrogen are normally the best such as adler (wet to regular), honey locus (dry to regular), etc
 
Mike Cantrell
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Steve Hoskins wrote:It's our 5th year burning black locust and while it is hard on the saw, it is great firewood. Anytime I burn something else I am reminded just how great.

It coppices very well, and will grow on sandy Michigan soils with no attention.




Great to know- thanks, Steve!
Are you in Michigan, too?


I have a buddy who's skeptical of my plan because of the thorns. How do you cope with them?
 
Luke Townsley
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Mike Cantrell wrote:
I have a buddy who's skeptical of my plan because of the thorns. How do you cope with them?



Wear heavy leather gloves, work boots, and be careful. They are a nuisance and particularly troublesome if you have kids helping out. There are schemes out there to burn off the thorns before cutting firewood.
 
R Scott
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S Bengi wrote:All plants have about the same conversation ratio for sunlight and so produce the same amount of btu per acre under optimum conditions.
Given that nature is not always under optimum conditions plants that fix there own nitrogen are normally the best such as adler (wet to regular), honey locus (dry to regular), etc



The big deal is the storage density. Yes, you get close to the same pounds of wood which is the same BTU's per acre, but that may be one cord of firewood for locust or 3 for pine. It becomes a volume problem to deal with that much firewood for some.

This is the best thing we found for clearing thorns: http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-7860-Brush-Axe/dp/B000F99IEU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395604250&sr=8-1&keywords=brush+axe

Long reach, light weight, the hook grabs them better than a plain machete. YMMV
 
Steve Hoskins
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Glad to spread black locust love.

Yep, northwestern lower MI.

The thorns are truly scary. I usually deal with them by soaking the wound in warm water.

I wear welding gloves when I deal with lots of tops or young trees. Older trunk growth is thorn free, so most of time I am just careful. Regular leather work gloves provide a false sense of security, so I don't bother.

I think this topic is important because if we use locust, it doesn't have invasive qualities. Immigrating farmers planted it because it is awesome.
 
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Link with BTU/cord
https://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm

Hybrid Poplar is something I'd been wanting test out
It doesn't have a very good BTU/cord, however BTU/acre is a different story

http://www.frysvillefarms.com/hybrid-poplar-trees.php

"We recommend planting 1200 trees per acre, which means spacing your trees on 6'x 6' centers. These 10” unrooted Frysville Hybrid Poplar cuttings when planted as early as possible in March thru May will reach heights of five to eight feet by the end of their first summer. By the end of the second growing season they will have reached heights of from 10 to 14 feet and by the end of four years will be approximately 25 to 30 feet high. We suggest the planting of ¼ to ½ acre per year according to your needs with unrooted cuttings. This will be done for four successive years. At the end of four years the trees from the first years planting of ¼ acre will have reached 25 to 30 foot high, should be approximately 4 to 6 inches in caliber and should yield 3 cords of great firewood. On the second and succeeding harvest this same planting will yield five cords. This size is just right without having to split it to fit into your stove."

9-12 cords/acre =160-200MBTU/acre

Seems like there is already a permies thread
http://www.permies.com/t/6958/woodland/Yield-acre
 
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Rather than planting a quarter of an acre all at once, is it possible/beneficial to plant a whole acre at one time but only 1/4 of the trees each year - so that all of the space has trees, the first year, the second year trees will be more densely planted at the second planting, the third year even more dense after the third planting. I hate to see a whole quarter of an acre practically clear cut...but if 1/4 of all of the trees are cut, the view can be relatively undisturbed.




Tim Whittaker wrote:Link with BTU/cord
https://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm

Hybrid Poplar is something I'd been wanting test out
It doesn't have a very good BTU/cord, however BTU/acre is a different story

http://www.frysvillefarms.com/hybrid-poplar-trees.php

"We recommend planting 1200 trees per acre, which means spacing your trees on 6'x 6' centers. These 10” unrooted Frysville Hybrid Poplar cuttings when planted as early as possible in March thru May will reach heights of five to eight feet by the end of their first summer. By the end of the second growing season they will have reached heights of from 10 to 14 feet and by the end of four years will be approximately 25 to 30 feet high. We suggest the planting of ¼ to ½ acre per year according to your needs with unrooted cuttings. This will be done for four successive years. At the end of four years the trees from the first years planting of ¼ acre will have reached 25 to 30 foot high, should be approximately 4 to 6 inches in caliber and should yield 3 cords of great firewood. On the second and succeeding harvest this same planting will yield five cords. This size is just right without having to split it to fit into your stove."

9-12 cords/acre =160-200MBTU/acre

Seems like there is already a permies thread
http://www.permies.com/t/6958/woodland/Yield-acre

 
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Lots of good info in this thread. I am doing something similar.

There are thornless honey locust varieties around. I started with ~110 seeds and ended up with 92 living trees in the ground. I believe there are thornless black locust varieties out there too. The wounds tend to become infected easily say some folks...


I also lobby for a mixed firewood plantation. What if you decided Ash was the best and that's all you planted. You could be in serious trouble with the Ash emerald borer.

Plus, as a general rule, mono-cropping is evil and leads to more complications and problems.


Willow does well in the wet spot, so that's where I put my willows. Willow bark tea -is- aspirin, only better. Willows provide outstanding fodder for ruminants from rabbits to cows. Willows provide excellent basket making materials.

Hybrid poplars might win the BTU's per acre contest, but it will take about double the cords to heat your house, so have a place store all that bulk. I planted some and am experimenting. Poplars also make good fodder.

Black and honey locust are probably nitrogen fixers, and if they're not, they still grow and produce well in poor soil. Excellent nurse trees next to fruit/nut trees.

Wisconsin/michigan pecans make outstanding firewood, but very very slowly. But you get the queen of all nuts. Hickory is also good in this respect, as well as the mix, Hicans.

Fruitwood has good to very good btu's per pound, and you get fruit!


So yeah, plant some of everything.

But this is all focusing on the supply side. Let's look at the demand side.


My house will end up insulated to r-50 levels, and take ~ 1/4 of the heat energy to keep very comfortable. So I could easily heat with "poor" quality firewood like willow and hybrid poplar. Or tiny amounts of good hardwood that I scrounge.


I built a hoop greenhouse to dry and store my firewood. It's 12.5' x 28' and will hold 3-5 years worth of firewood. You have to seal the moisture in the ground with poly to get truly effective firewood drying. Some active ventilation helps too. I put in a window at each end and a box fan to push the hot humid air out. Works a charm on the wet wood. Every percent more moisture in your wood costs you some efficiency. For sure, don't burn stuff that is greater than 20% moisture. My goal is to get it below 10%.

In the old days, some folks warned against getting your firewood too dry. With a good, efficient modern (catalytic or conventional) airtight wood stove, that's really not true any more. A blaze king catalytic stove might need 1/3 less, to 1/2 less firewood to produce the same heat as a cheap wood stove. Or go good rocket mass heater...


Between dry wood, and efficient wood stove and a well insulated house, you can cut your wood needs to 1/4 or less of what a "normal" house would use. Maybe you really only need a half acre, or just the prunings from your orchard/fruit/nut trees...



HTH

troy

ps, I neglected to add that hickory and osage orange both make excellent bows.
 
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May not be entirely useful - but over here in the ireland we tend to have lots of small fields which are demarcated with hedges - almost exclusively made from whitethorn/blackthorn/hawthorn which are excellent living barriers as...thorny. Plant 12-18 inches apart. After a 4/5 years the branches can be 'layed' horizontally (where a cut is made approx 50% of the thickness and the vertical bough pulled horizontally. this makes the hedge a lot less liable to breakthrough by cattle. the wound will close over and the horizontal branch will sprout new vertical branches, thickening up the barrier nicely. Also is a dense wood which burns well though liable to spitting if in an open fire. Carefully managed you can have a good fence and a source of firewood. While these species may not be available in your area, the idea of laying the branches horizontally after a few years may be useful. main problem is in the initial period before it is mature enough to keep animals in/out. also if not managed well the vertical boughs can get over vigorous causing your fence to thin and become a bit useless.
 
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I hope to never plant an inch of my land to firewood. 90% is currently covered in trees. To me, firewood is what you're left with after the tree is harvested for some higher use. Knarly branches, damaged or twisted bits, tops and undesirable trash trees become firewood. I have seen people cut up nice big Douglas Firs and cedar for firewood, when they could have sold those logs and bought far more cut and split wood with the money. When I lived in Ontario, much of the available firewood came from maple tops. Sugar and black maple logs are worth far more as lumber and that was where they went.

Whenever I start my saw, I look to improve the value of my woodland by cutting out over crowded and undesirable specimens. Once I reach a point where there are few storm damaged or other trees that will never yield good lumber, I will burn branches and tops. On any well managed farm of 5 acres in my area, firewood should be a by-product of good forest, orchard and road management.

If I lived in an area that didn't have abundant free wood available, I would build my house the right size and of the right materials to fit that reality. I would not become a slave to a heating device and would not dedicate any good farm land exclusively to firewood production.
 
Mike Cantrell
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What's actually come to pass this summer is, once the word got out that I'm heating with wood, I've got much more firewood to cut and fetch than I've got time to do it.

I can see this remaining true indefinitely, but I still intend to plant some black locusts for the sake of N-fixation, handles/posts/lumber, and a firewood backup plan. (I got a hold of a couple dozen little saplings, but didn't water them diligently enough and they died. Ah well, try again.)
 
Michael Cox
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I've found that collecting "free" firewood is often not sensible. The time associated with gearing up, getting to a site and collecting wood is often not worth the timber you actually get to bring home. Perhaps a different situation if you can collect a decent trailer load at a time, but that is unusually where we are.

Most tree surgeons in the area have a side business selling wood so there is usually nothing left on site when they are done.
 
Mike Cantrell
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People offer you firewood less than a trailer at a time? The UK is a strange place indeed!

Most of Michigan is heavily wooded, so firewood's easy to be had, in great quantities. I helped a friend remove a big dead walnut tree (couldn't get any money for the lumber, which baffled me), which made two and a half full cords by itself. My neighbor lost a few trees in a windstorm two weeks ago, and pow, I'm set for the winter.

If I had more time, I'd be getting ahead on the winter 2015!
 
Dale Hodgins
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If I wanted tons of it, I'd take on clearing contracts. Building lots and associated roadways grow over quickly. My part time tree service produces a lot. When I work far from the property for extended periods, I give away wood. Firewood hounds are quick to answer my adds and this reduces my workload. I've found that I can earn more from tree and hedge pruning than from handling firewood.
 
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