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Ash - the best wood to grow for firewood?

 
john smith
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Location: western u.s.
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From a search, ash is considered to be the best wood to grow for firewood.

Does anyone have an idea of how much land it would take, and how long per cord?

Ash is widely regarded as the best wood species to burn. This is because it is a hardwood, and has excellent burning properties, including:

    * Ash logs last much longer than softwoods when burned in stoves or open fires
    * When burned, it turns into a bright red glow, with high heat output
    * It has few knots, so sparks less than other woods
    * Burns completely, and leaves very little ash
    * Less smoke emitted so chimneys are cleaner
    * Clean to handle

In order to burn efficiently, it is important that the firewood be dried - with a moisture content of less than 30%.
 
john smith
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Location: western u.s.
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Here's a thread about growing willow for firewood.

http://community.rivercottage.net/users/loosy/forums/managing-the-land/viewtopic/topic_id:18244

'm just about to plant some willow this winter

there ae types especially for biofuel

the stuff grows like mental, 10ft a year. long straight trunks

you leave it for 2-3 years to get a decent thinckness and then cut it down
 
tel jetson
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I don't think I would plant a tree for the single function of firewood.  fortunately, both your candidates there are useful for a great many other things beside burning.

ash (Fraxinus) wood is very useful stuff for all sorts of woodworking.  I don't think it'll last exposed to the elements, though.  think baseball and cricket bats, musical instruments, furniture.  the internet even tells me that automobile frames are made from ash.

how much land and time you'll need to supply yourself with ash or willow firewood is going to be very much dependent on the specifics of your site.  I have seen the figure one cord/acre/year for coppiced ash thrown around, and I imagine that's probably a reasonable estimate of what you could get from a mature woodlot.  my guess is that you would harvest on something around a five to eight year rotation, where 1/5 to 1/8 of the trunks are cut each year.  if that's the case, you'll have at least five years until your first harvest, though you would be planting every year until then.

one cord/acre/year doesn't sound like very much to me, but I'm just getting started with this firewood stuff and my sense of these things isn't very well tuned.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Almond is another good candidate to serve several functions, in this case food and fuel. Almond fruit is apparently an OK livestock feed.
 
Brenda Groth
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we have a lot of white ash on our property...problem is now the emerald ash borere is getting to be quite a problem all over our area ..so the trees don't have a great chance of growing to adulthood.

however..

once you have an adult ash and it sends out seeds, you'll have ash babies everywhere.

ash babies grow extremely fast and make tall straight trunks very quickly, which is great for firewood but also for lumber.

ash is hard..makes good tools.

some of our ash are showing signs of decline..but they tend to grow quite large before they decline..so they make quick firewood..so we aren't oging to eliminate the ash trees, and who knows, maybe they'll grow some resistance to boreres like the elm did to elm disease..

we wil be cutting a few ash this next year..but we have a lot of them growing..they eventually have to be thinned out anyway as they'lll grow quite close togheter into a large woods very quickly..

i highly recommend ash for firewood growth on your property but do keep an eye out for the boreres..yhouc an get plugs to put into the tree to kill them but so far we haven't invsted in t he lugs here yet...not sure about insecticides you know ..
 
john smith
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Location: western u.s.
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The moringa tree is usually cut to 3 to 5 feet high once a year.
This one below is probably more lush than usual as they get quite a bit of rain in Hawaii.

The wood is very, very soft, though the tree is a good living fencepost. It makes acceptable firewood but poor charcoal.

It is an extremely fast-growing tree. Roy Danforth in Zaire wrote, "The trees grow more rapidly than papaya, with one three month old tree reaching 8 feet. I never knew there would be such a tree." The tree in our organic garden grew to about 15 feet in 9 months, and had been cut back twice to make it branch out more.

http://enviro.org.au/article_moringaTree.asp

Any idea how much wood a moringa this size would yield?
 
                  
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Location: NW Ontario
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Does anyone have an idea of how much land it would take, and how long per cord?

Hard to say. Your location and climate will have a lot to do with how much wood you need and also how well a woodlot can be managed.
Where I live, black ash is available and makes a very nice fire but birch is far and away the most popular firewood because it is easier to manage than ash.


* Burns completely, and leaves very little ash
* Less smoke emitted so chimneys are cleaner

These points have more to do with the efficiency of the combustion appliance than with the wood. Any wood can be burnt completely with little smoke or residue if burned at a high enough temperature.
 
Brenda Groth
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i was informed by a neighbor this weekend that the ash and elm that have been dying around here seem to nearly all be 25 years old or older..they said that they were reesarching and found that the diseases generally don't hit the trees when they are young  and that nearly all the trees that are dying are at least 20 yeaqrs old.

a 20 year old tree is just about the right size for cutting for firewood, not too large to handle and will yield a decent size log that won't have to be split to be burned..so i guess i'm not going to be so concerned about my baby ash trees and the elms that are growing around here..if they'll live 25 years and i'm 59..the ones that will die in my lifetime will be burned for firewood in our wood furnace and those that live longer will provide shade and habitat
 
                                
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I found this list of firewood trees for zones 5 and up.  Oddly neither Ash nor Elm are included, however, I cannot grow either tree because of Dutch Elm disease and Emerald Ash borer, which decimated all trees near me (Long Ialsnd, NY).

http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2006/05/top-10-fuel-trees-for-zone-5-and-above.html
RANK NAME Heat/Cord
(Million BTUs)

1. Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) 32.9
2. Oak, White (Quercas alba) 29.1
3. Locust, Black (Robinia pseudoacacia) 27.9
4. Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana) 27.9
5. Hickory, Shagbark (Carya ovata) 27.5
6. Apple (Malus domestica) 27.0
7. Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) 26.7
8. Hickory, Bitternut (Carya cordiformis) 26.7
9. Oak, Bur (Quercus macrocarpa) 26.2
10. Mulberry (Trees from the Moraceae Morus family) 25.8


WARNING:  DO NOT plant the Asian / Russian white or paper Mulberries!  They are devastatingly invasive!  You CANNOT KILL THEM!  The roots spread when you try; they take over EVERYTHING!  One tiny piece of root destroys your compost pile and leaf mould.  Even the most potent tree killing chemicals do not work (stump dies, roots THRIVE and SPREAD)!

Plant the native Red Mulberry or even the Black Mulberry – yummy berries and NOT invasive!  The native red grows so fast – keep on top of it with pruning if you want a traditional tree!  I haven’t tried coppicing them, but I can tell you that when I cut down the white one (hoping to kill it – BEFORE I knew how bad it was) within 2 weeks I had over 10 new shoots that grew into a shrub overnight; the next year they were at least 7 feet tall and FAT but the roots spread over 20 feet away into a new planting hole and took over the ENTIRE garden with little baby white mulberries EVERYWHERE – that’s when I bought the deadly chemicals and killed the stump – that only made the roots more determined to spread!

OK, sorry, that tree should be BANNED, it is so bad!  Anyhow, as for how many trees to plant for firewood, that site says this:

“Now unless you’re a lumberjack, or semipro wood cutter, you’re probably wondering what the blazes is a DBH. That stands for diameter at breast height, taken by measuring a tree’s diameter at about 4 1/2 feet from the ground. Now, this list only goes up to 6 DBH for one reason. Most trees are coppiceable if they are less than 6 inches in diameter and less than 10 feet tall. Therefore, if we want the tree to survive and continue providing us with firewood in a sustainable manner, we don’t want to let it grow bigger than that. So, we will need, on average, about 34 of the above trees to produce one cord of firewood (if that is the amount you really need). I would suggest more, as we are going to coppice them on rotation. The average by today’s standard home (considering the average home is lacking sufficient insulation, has ceilings too high, and if it has a fireplace or stove, it’s inefficient) needs 4 1/2 to seven full cords of wood per year to heat. I will be bold here and state that this is probably due to the fact that modern structures aren’t built toward energy efficiency, and most people don’t burn wood that kicks out a high BTU. The common, lazy fire builder usually goes for lighter, faster burning woods.”

34 trees for one high-BTU cord.  That's nuts!  I burn 3 cords on average, but I don't start until the interior temp drops to 54 degrees.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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I'm incline to say the best wood is what ever you have that is dry and not resin filled. For us that is mostly sugar maple but this year we have a lot of ash. Varies with what I've thinned out or is left over from our forestry. Generally I keep the less nice wood as we sell all the rest. Dead wood standing is nice.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I agree with Walter that the best firewood for you is what grows where you are!  If ash will grow there, then go for it!  Where we lived in Alaska, all that was available was spruce (black and white) and aspen -- there were a few birch trees, but not enough to do much with them, and they are so pretty that we didn't want to cut them anyway.  Aspen is NOT good firewood at all, so we burned spruce, and it kept us plenty warm.  If I ever have to burn spruce (or any other softwood) again, I'll do it in a rocket stove, because we did have quite a bit of creosote in the chimney.

Kathleen
 
rose macaskie
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In spain the tree used for fire wood is oak very heavy and calorific wood, some coppiced and some pollarded which is to say they grow four to six, usualy, arms on the tree, just above the heads of cattle and cut the wood off these when the shoots that grow off the arms get to about nine centimetres in diametre.
    I have written all about it on another thread in this woodland section.
    They did, when i first came here and still probably do, in some places, use a brazier here, that they kept under a table that is covered in long heavy cloths. You boil when you sit at the table, I could not think what was wrong with me the first time i sat at a table with a brazier under it and had the clothes kindly wrapped round my legs.
  The brazier is like a   babers dish without the bite taken out of it and is  usually bronze and is held on a wooden stand.
  To make embers for the brazier they put wood standing up in the fire place, i have only seen it done with broom, stood up in the fire place so it fires up fast and burns down quick leaving burning embers which htey say last all day. In the town, in Madrid, they used to have a funnel they took out into the street in the morning to burn up the wood for embers in, according to a friend of mine.
  If the wood is for embers  it matters what sort of wood you use, they don't have a chimney on brasiers and i was told pine was likely to produce fumes that poison you.  rose macaskie .
 
Brenda Groth
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were burning mostly elm and ash this year..and yeah, you are right, it all died from the borer or elm disease..some elms and ash are still alive..but they'll eventually be firewood..as they'll eventually all be likely dead.

we are having to learn to figure out other woods to cut for firewood..as oak takes forever to grow and they and maple are about the only hardwoods left in this area..i'm starting to think of harvesting the alder for firewood the more i read about it..it grows fast and is abundant..so i'm going to try it for next year..i know it won't hold fire overnight ..too small..but it might work for daylight fires...when i'm up and stoking it
 
rose macaskie
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    Here as they cut the logs of wood oak from the arms of the trees having developed four main arms or from a bol, the new wood grows form the roots and bol or branches of an old tree and does not take too long to regrow. I can check it out to find out after how many years they crop the tree. As a lot of trunks start to grow when you cut down the trunks of the trees imore sprouts grow from the roots of some  types of oak than from others, if you have a good thicket i think you can cut out fire wood each year, cutting out the trunks that have grown big enough that is of about nine centimeters diameter, they use small logs here. agri rose macaskie 
 
Moody Vaden
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I would not limit myself to just one single type of tree.  Especially Ash.  As mentioned before because of the Emerald Ash Borer.  Back in the 70's my father grew a few acres of Hybrid Poplars for wood.  Not the best burning wood, but boy does it grow straight and fast, and we are in zone 6b/7a, so it doesn't get too cold.  Blight hit the patch of woods into the 6th year and killed off about 80% of the trees.  Funny thing is, thirty-some years later, there aren't any left, but there is Maple, Oak, Cherry and a few others that have established themselves over the years.  My point being, don't put all your eggs in one basket.
 
                            
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Well, I have to throw in my 2 cents - The hottest wood in my area is Osage Orange.  We just call it Hedge.  We use ash and elm for daytime, warmer weather (30-ish or so) burning.

The hedge gives you green, ripply looking balls, some baseball or even softball size,  that critters will eat.  The hedge balls are also used to keep crickets out of your basement or buildings.

Years ago, farmers would plant hedge trees to keep cattle in a pasture.  The wood is also used as fence posts, won't rot as a rule, burns really, really hot.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Here's a bummer for ash everywhere
http://www.emeraldashborer.info
 
Fred Morgan
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One other positive thing on ash, it is a joy to split.
 
Burra Maluca
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[center]The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.[/center]
 
Dale Hodgins
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      Birch is a great firewood because it's almost always the perfect size for one swipe splitting or no splitting at all and it comes with its own firestarter attached in the form of quite flammable bark. It's seldom limby and dries quickly.

     One of the worst woods to burn is called piss elm. It smells like piss
 
Perry Way
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Nobody mentioned black locust yet on this thread. Grows fast, on any soil, in any climate I think. And it doesn't rot. Not the hottest firewood but certainly better than most. I think it's in the top 90%.  In those areas suffering from those diseases for Elm and Ash, black locust will grow nicely, and it's nitrogen fixing.  Someone else mentioned Alder, and that's nitrogen fixing too.  That's okay too but I think black locust makes hotter fires.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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We have a lot of ash and locust in our woodpile this year. The ash seems to burn hot and pretty quickly. The locust takes a little while to heat up but tends to burn for a longer period. I've been burning the ash during the day and then start burning the locust from dinner time until bed time. I still have a good amount of hot coals in the morning even if i happen to sleep in late (8am).

We have tons of ash growing too close for their own good so we cut the large ones for firewood then thin the rest out using them for either small fence posts or trellis poles. Even the side branches of the large ash trees are straight enough to use for posts and all sorts of garden supports. I've even used them in a woven fence design for windbreaks. There is certainly a lot you can do with ash. It's too bad about the borers.
 
Yone' Ward
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It will take nothing less than a miracle to stop the Emerald Ash Borer from going nation wide, so I would plat something else. If you can grow it, the Vine Maple is a good choice as it will grow multiple trunks. You can cut several of them off and it will just grow more. It is also a good hardwood useful for much. There is another tree that will grow here locally that behaves in a similar manner, but I don't know it's name. Keep up the research!
 
Brenda Groth
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unfortunately finding very small ash trees are dying now from the emerald ash borer..very small ones (see my blog)..I am cutting down most of the ash on our property that are large enough to actually CUT DOWN..4 or 5 " at base or larger..you can see on our blog where we had to have a crane come in to take one very large one down that died.

They aren't getting big enough now to even really use for firewood (although we will burn them in our furnace they won't really provide much heat as they are very small)..the largest ones have already died and I've taken nearly all the larger ones down already.
 
L. Jones
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Still have ash, no EAB yet, no reason to think that will continue to be the case, though. They'll get here, and they'll have help from morons travelling with firewood.

Wish I could find someplace that actually has the data online from the purple triangle traps they have up to monitor EAB travel/spread. What they are willing to publish claims it's not here yet, but it's way too close in New York for comfort.

It's great firewood, but there are plenty of things that might be better overall - trees that are good firewood and also grow a significant food (for people or animals, depending how much/little processing you care to do) crop (honey locust, some oaks, mulberry, hickories, pecan if that's an option (it's not here.)) Leguminous feeds the soil around the tree (honey locust, black locust.)

A tree that coppices well (can be grown and cut and will resprout, so the sprout gets to take advantage of the root system and you can get multiple trunks going) is so much the better. Many do, anecdotally, but not having managed a forest that way I'm not sure which ones would be best at that. Likewise if you can cut limbs from it while leaving the tree, and/or cut the top off without killing the tree the replacement growth should be faster than new trees, but you also have to not kill yourself while cutting it.

Speed of growth is a function of light, crowding, and soil.
 
lil hodgins
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i grow ash in the mountains and it coppices really well. also throws up lots of babies, so there are always new ones coming on. you can burn it green or seasoned. also it can be used for feeding animals if you have to keep them indoors due to the weather, can even be dried and then fed to them.
 
Brenda Groth
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well in france you likely don't have the emerald ash borer..

we were really hoping for the firewood from our ash trees as well, they grow very fast and are prolific seeders..but some of my very small ash are dead now from the borer..see my blog..I have photos in there of some of the borer damage and dead ash that are tiny..but the bark has already come off at the base where the borers compromised it.

I wish I could say there was a faster growing tree that is good firewood..the fastest growing tree in our area is aspen, however, it is lousy for holding fire as it burns to hot and fast.

we do burn it however in the spring and fall..

maple is somewhat faster growoing that some other trees like oak, and is great firewood, and we have thousands of baby maples coming up all over our property, but we likely won't be cutting them for firewood in our lifetime (I'm nearly 61)..

the alder and wild cherry on our property only live for a short time and then die..also..so we probably will probably have to IMPORT all of our firewood after the ash are gone, except the aspen.

you can burn fruitwood, but then you don't have the fruit.
 
steve bossie
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the locusts grow as fast as a hybrid poplar up to 30ft. then start to slow but by then you have at least 6in. dbh. I'm in zone 3 b. i planted 3 4in.high bare root black locusts seedlings at the beg. of may last year. by end of oct. they were 7ft.! our soil is heavy clay and very rocky. also very poor organic wise. i didn't even fertilize these trees! they resprout from the stump and are commonly coppiced in europe. you never have to replant. they also have higher btus than oak and rock maple and they grow 3xs. faster! there aren't any that grow naturally around here but north of here, in quebec I've seen stands of them in parks and along the ocean. supposedly you can bury locust in the ground for 40yrs. and its still solid! surprised more people don't grow this tree instead of the hybrid poplar for fast wood.
 
Steve Hoskins
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I agree that black locust is amazing firewood. Scary heat output when fully seasoned. This year, I have a pile of ash for firestarting, thanks to emerald ash borer, but it can't compete with the black lucust, in my humble opinion, other than as kindling.
 
steve bossie
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Brenda Groth wrote:well in france you likely don't have the emerald ash borer..

we were really hoping for the firewood from our ash trees as well, they grow very fast and are prolific seeders..but some of my very small ash are dead now from the borer..see my blog..I have photos in there of some of the borer damage and dead ash that are tiny..but the bark has already come off at the base where the borers compromised it.

I wish I could say there was a faster growing tree that is good firewood..the fastest growing tree in our area is aspen, however, it is lousy for holding fire as it burns to hot and fast.

we do burn it however in the spring and fall..

maple is somewhat faster growoing that some other trees like oak, and is great firewood, and we have thousands of baby maples coming up all over our property, but we likely won't be cutting them for firewood in our lifetime (I'm nearly 61)..

the alder and wild cherry on our property only live for a short time and then die..also..so we probably will probably have to IMPORT all of our firewood after the ash are gone, except the aspen.

you can burn fruitwood, but then you don't have the fruit.
hi brenda! you guys ever conside yellow birch? they grow like crazy in n. maine and grow well in the under story. the only drawback is they like moist fertile soil but they grow nearly as fast as aspen and have similar btus as maple.
 
Alan Loy
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Here in Australia the debate is about which eucalyptus tree is the best. Redgum (Eucalyptus camaldelensis) is well regarded and box varieties, yellow (Eucalyptus melliodora), grey (Eucalyptus microcarpa) are also good. Many other varieties are also good as fire wood. I mention this because I understand that eucalyptus trees have been planted in many countries and may be available near you.

I found this here http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2585.html?s=013ca9670c41cc397c09e79cfd462c80

Ah,woods ain’t woods, they can be the difference between having a really relaxing socialtime with a well cooked meal, enough light to see around camp, and enough heatto keep it pleasant, to the opposite of beingcovered in smoke, being forced to cook on one of those stove contraptions, andsitting in the dark waiting for bed time to arrive.

I had to put the thunking cap on for this one to remember all the places and the campfires that we made over the years. Obviously, it’s really unlikely that a campfirewill burn only one species of wood, particularly in the coastal regions of Ozwhere mixed species occur. Three areas stand apart – rainforest, alpine and desert areas – in these areas often only one or two species of tree provide decent quality burning wood.

Ironbark, Stringybark, Red Gum, Scribbly Gum, Blue Gum and Ribbon Gum - all burn well, good for deep, long lasting and penetrating heat with generally large coals. Perfectfor heating, cooking, and a bit of light; I think the light issue is dependent upon how fresh the wood is, for example, if it’s old wood that’s been laying aroundfor a long time, the volatile oils tend to diminish. If it’s fairly fresh, that is, dried out but still characteristically stringy and tight grained, then ithighly likely that it will burn very well and be a reasonable lighting source.If you stack up a fire before going to bed, it’s almost certain you’ll find hotcoals in the morning to restart a fire. We’ve found these woods burn so hot and for so long that even after a heavy night’s rain, there’s still enough heat inthe lower portion of the fireplace to restart it.

SheOak and River Oak (Desert Oak too) - these burn really well, but tend to burnto fine ash so it’s unlikely that if you stack up a fire hoping for the coalsto be hot in the morning, it probably won’t be. Good light source. Need tomodify cooking practices to get the most out of burning these woods. (The smoketends to smell a bit too and will probably leave a thick resin on your billy.)

Turpentine– as the name suggests, burns well but stinks and leaves a resin on cookware.Unlikely to burn this wood exclusively.

Sassafras and Coachwood – since these are generally found in deep ravines and rainforest areas, the wood doesn’t burn that well - lots of smoke, but persistence pays off once the wood gets going. It burns nicely and provides a moderate heat with a bit of light. From memory I think it burns to small coals – neither ash nor large coals.

Wattles– all wattles tend to burn really well. I think one or two are poisonous, but it would be highly unlikely to burn wattle exclusively as it burns to ash veryquickly – perfect for starting a fire (kindling) not so great to cook with asit flames rather than provides long term coals. The perfect wood to start afire when first arriving at camp as you can place the billy on it and by the time you’ve laid out the tent and gear, she’ll have a rolling boil just right for a cuppa and a bickie! (Just before deciding to head out and collect ‘real’wood for cooking and heating.)

Banksia– like wattles, Banksias burn well, but many species provide really good long lasting heat, light and coals. Some just burn to ash. Again, it would be rareto have a camp fire made exclusively from Banksia. Even though finding an exposed and dried Banksia stump in the bush is as rare as rocking horse crap, they burn REALLY well and are great for providing heat on a cold winter’s night. That deep red glow kind of heat.

Melaleuca(Tea Tree, Paper Bark) – burns really well and, like the Oaks, burns to ash and sometimes small coals. Can leave a resin on cookware. Good heat and light –burns with an intense heat i.e. volatile oils.

Personally, I'd rather use a stove than burn pine - pine sucks, it stinks when burnt and leaves a treacle like resin on cookware.

Hope this assists.
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 213
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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Who ever wrote above "what will grow in your area" has it right. In this area it mostly means running up the mountain for pines and spruces and aspen or harvesting down low for cottonwood, russian olive or chinese elm.

I have burned a bit of apple and a bit of ash of the ones on the popular lists. Chinese elm and russian olive are nearly as good heat density. And cottonwood isn't far behind. All 3 are far better than pine for heat density. Chinese elm is slower growing is its problem. A cottonwood will produce probably 3 times the wood volume in the same length of time compared to chinese elm. Cottonwoods big advanage is if dry it basically doesn't make creosote. Burned green it does and it is about like road tar but good dry cottonwood the chimney will stay clean. Its big disadvantage is ash volume. It is probably 3 or 4 times as much ash per cord compared to any other wood burned. Another disadvantage is that it is one of the toughest woods to split with hand tools. Russian olive is a pain to harvest because of thorns and it bark eats chainsaw chains. It is also slower growing. All 3 will out preform green ash in amount of wood grown in this area. All 3 will copice if needed. The only other possible comparison wood I have burned is silver leaf maple. It is between cottonwood and pine in energy density and was fairly easy to split.

While nearly every soil type from gravel to sand to clay can be found in this area it is nearly all calcite bonded in its rock form which is shallow so that means soil pH over 8 in most places.(little or no organic in the soil) Also fairly high sodium content in the soils. Right where I am is heavy clay with shale down less than 2 feet, soil pH as high as 8.7-8.8 and high sodium content. Add in 20 below to 40 below most winters along with 110 to 120+ summers and choices reduce more. The fact that this is a deep deep basin surrounded by mountains means when a cold front comes by it can fall in and stay for weeks even when the rest of the country around us has warmed up. But the real killer here is that things tend to warm up and then hard freeze in the spring which takes many trees out unless they tend to start slow, are freeze hardy or have a second set of leaf buds. I found the warning on russian mulberry earlier in this thread interesting. I originally planted it here after reading that it was a weed in eastern MT. It is just barely hanging on here. The 15 year old tree is about 8 feet high at this point with a 3" trunk diameter and shows no sign of spreading so far. black locust is supposed to be so hardy and my about 15 year old tree there is 3 ft tall with a about a 1" trunk diameter. It freezes back to the root every spring. I have an aspen that is surviving and suckering but still the biggest trunk on it is probably 6 feet tall after about 12 years.(rutting bucks have been hard on it. Even fenced with woven wire. One buck apparently left wearing my fence and I never found it) My biggest green ash tree is less than half the size of the average cottonwood in the same length of time for nearly similar fuel values. Thus right here cottonwood would be be my choice for firewood to grow. It takes tough trees to survive the climate and soils here. Find what grows well in your area is the point of all this. Just because it is a strong performer else where doesn't mean it will grow where you are. Find something that doesn't need help to grow in your area. It should spread by seed or by sucker and grow quickly with good fuel value.




 
Brett Hammond
Posts: 65
Location: Maryland, USA
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I'll join the chorus and agree it depends on your climate and soil.

Regarding black locust, beware...

The good news is grows like a weed, even in poor soil, and can grow 30 ft tall with 6 inch diameter in 5 or 6 years. At that age will provide maybe 1/10 chord per tree. You could grow hundreds in an acre, cut them to the ground, and the roots will send up shoots all over like weeds, so no need to replant. I prune mine as high as I can reach from the ground once a year to get straight thick trunks for firewood, and so I can walk around my yard without bumping my head. They will drop a few branches every winter for kindling.

Cut logs to length right away after felling, because in a year they will be too hard to cut. Chop the tree down every 5 years, and you won't need to split as it will be 6 inches or less in diameter, so it is quick work to lay up a chord. After drying for a year, they will be rock hard and burn like coal, very slow and very hot, and the coals will last a long while. If you don't have very good draft in your wood stove, you may need to start with softer wood, like when burning coal.

People talk about how Locust won't rot, but I have had locust rot if left on the ground after felling here where there soil is wet all winter. You should raise it, or stack it to dry for a year to be sure it is rot proof. You might get lucky and not have any rot on the ground, but I have lost some to rot by leaving it on the ground after cutting, and have also had bug infestations, so I suggest stacking it right away. Then, only some of the logs on the bottom of the stack rot.

The bad news is, I believe it is toxic. I have read in woodworker magazines that foresters recommend wearing breathing protection when cutting or sanding locust, and washing hands after handling it. Also, after a few years of burning locust for heat, I get nauseous now when I burn it. A tiny little bit of smoke comes out when I open my stove door for refueling, and that is enough to make me feel sick, so I stopped burning it. I now burn red oak, which is very plentiful around here, and do not have this problem.

I don't know if I developed an allergy to Locust, or if was poisoning me, but I wouldn't burn it again indoors without doing a lot of research first about its toxicity.

Also, I live in zone 7 and burn 1 chord in a mild winter, and never more than 2 chords in a harsh winter (4 ft snow, months below 32F) to provide 95% of my heat. So I am surprised hearing about people burning 5 or 6 chords in similar climates. If I burned that much I would invest in some thermal mass, south facing windows, much better insulation, and a mass heater. My old 1700 sqft 1-story house is very poorly insulated and no thermal mass, but do have some south windows that heat the whole house during sunny days. I have a "so called" high efficiency cast iron wood stove with catalytic converter, but would much rather have a mass heater to eliminate the huge temperature and humidity swings between the time I go to bed, and wake up in the morning.

I think money is better spent on building a house that is easy to heat, rather than acreage for firewood. Then you could heat your house with white pine (or anything), if you had to. My next house is going to be heated with 1/2 chord per year, and it doesn't take much property to generate that much wood.

Best of luck!
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 269
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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john smith wrote:
'm just about to plant some willow this winter

there ae types especially for biofuel

the stuff grows like mental, 10ft a year. long straight trunks

you leave it for 2-3 years to get a decent thinckness and then cut it down


I'd like to pile on with the folk here who have extolled the virtues of black locust for firewood - although I know nothing about alleged toxicity; that is very interesting and I must research further. Note that BL is #3 on the list provided above for most BTU-dense firewoods,behind only white oak (which I'm sure is great, but takes forever to grow) and Osage Orange (which I can't speak of knowledgebly). And I can personally vouch that BL will meet or exceed the 10feet/year growth rate quoted above for willow and is, so far as I've experienced, almost completely free of pests or other problems. Disclaimer in this regard: I am growing it on the edge of the Southern Appalachians, which means that I have a mild climate offering at least 7 months of growing season, and which means I am at the edge of the BL's native range. Nonetheless, I've read that it is widely and easily adaptable in other climates.

Plus, of course, it is a N-fixer so requires no fertilization and makes a wonderful food forest support tree even if one never intends to burn it. Not to mention the old claim about naturally rot-resistant tool and fence wood. I have found my BLs very aesthetically pleasing trees, with delicate little leaves that dance in the wind and cast a wonderfully lightly-dappled shade, plus lovely flowers in the spring like white wisteria. Though my own trees are only approaching 5 years, so I am just beginning to see the flowers.

Everyone says that BL coppices even faster than it grows. I cannot yet personally confirm this, as I am just approaching my first coppice harvest, but I have no problem believing it from what I've seen. I can say for sure that it's true that they send up root suckers all over the place, doubly so when the main trunk has been cut. So you will NEVER need to replant your BL woodlot, that's for sure.

I have loved the BLs I planted within my foodforest so much that ever since I've been sticking more in wherever I can find the space for them: I must have 3 or 4 dozen on my 1-acre property! I plan to coppice regularly, so none of these will ever much exceed 25' or 30' tall maximum, which makes this kind of dense interplanting more reasonable. My one and only complaint to date is that, since they grow so tall so quickly, they tend to be spindly at first and I have found they are vulnerable to high winds. During the late spring of the 2nd or 3rd (don't remember) year since I planted my first bunch of BLs, when most were about 15-22' tall, a monstrous storm blew a dozen of them over. Now here is the funny thing: none of these uprooted, even though the soil was softened by heavy rains, and only two of these broke. The rest just bent over without breaking until their upper branches were touching the ground. I thought they would quickly right themselves, but they never did. They just continued to grow horizontally! Soon thereafter I had to pull them up and stake them to get them growing vertically again. This would have been much easier, no doubt, had I realized the need to do so immediately after the storm; a couple months later after I'd returned from a summer trip they REALLY didn't want to be pulled up straight again. So all you potential BL growers out there, you've been warned what to watch out for, LOL!
 
Brett Hammond
Posts: 65
Location: Maryland, USA
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I just googled and looked at a few dozen sites regarding burning black locust, and there seems to be consensus that the leaves, bark and fresh young growth is very toxic to many (but not all) animals, yet the flowers and (at certain times of year) the pods/seeds are safe to consume. At other times the pods are poisonous. Some even said the heartwood was not toxic, but not sure about the sapwood. I could not find any good scientific links to prove any of this, so if you find something regarding toxicity while burning, please post links. Other aspects and uses for black locust are discussed in another discussion thread in this group, in which Paul posted a quote from someone else about toxicity in the first page of the discussion, if you are interested.

Since I don't debark my firewood, and any bark that falls off gets tossed into my fire, it is possible it was the burning bark that made me feel sick, but I can't say for sure. If you leave it season for a year, I have found thick old bark will usually drop right off pieces 12 inches or more in diameter, but 6 or 8 inch or smaller will not shed bark.

I do recall reading in a woodworking magazine about a forester saying to wear a respirator and wash hands when cutting or sanding the wood, for what that's worth.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 1571
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I have worked with both older and young coppiced black locust, and have found that new wood and small branches tend to rot quickly, while older heartwood can lay on the ground for decades without rotting to weakness. It can look like mossy punk, but as my best friend found out, kick it and risk breaking your toe!

It does indeed burn wonderfully, but I have far more outdoor building projects than black locusts, so I would never burn a piece that was large enough to use for something else.
 
Anthony Ventimiglia
Posts: 1
food preservation fungi trees
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L. Jones wrote:Still have ash, no EAB yet, no reason to think that will continue to be the case, though. They'll get here, and they'll have help from morons travelling with firewood.

Wish I could find someplace that actually has the data online from the purple triangle traps they have up to monitor EAB travel/spread. What they are willing to publish claims it's not here yet, but it's way too close in New York for comfort.


I would contact your local extension agent or speak to any foresters you know in the area. I'm in NW New Jersey, they put the traps out a few years ago, and earlier this year a forester friend told me EAB is here, and all our ash will eventually die. I know it was confirmed to be in NY about 50 miles north a few years ago, so I'm guessing if it isn't in Western Mass yet, it will be soon.

It's great firewood, and here it's also seems to be host for our Morel patches.

For the OP, I'd recommend hiring a forester. Timberstand improvement is very much like weeding a garden.
 
Ora shany
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Sorry for my bad English.
Why cut live trees? Ther is so many Gardeners pruned and fallen tress and branches, and building leftover.. that is enough,(definite for RMH) that way you are earning free wood and also cleaning the environment from fire hazard.
 
Did you see how Paul cut 87% off of his electric heat bill with 82 watts of micro heaters?
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