I think the denser the wood, the hotter burning, but they are also the slower growers. Maybe someone else has some ideas that would work for you. And if there is something that would grow fast here, survive our winters and burn hot, I sure would be interested in it, too!
Mulberry is another to consider - you get more than just firewood (10-12 tons/acre/year when established). There are berries, and the leaves can be used for forage, although if heavily browsed, the wood yield will be lower. Mulberry wood is also pretty energy rich.
Locust is another fast-growing, energy rich wood.
Energy content of various woods:
I remember a website where the guy advocated planting poplar for firewood. You staggered the plantings annually and could start cutting wood to burn after the first plantings were 5 years old. The next year you cut the second bunch of trees and the first ones would start growing back from the roots, and so on. I decided not to do that as poplar doesn't burn hot enough for our cold winters. The guy did address that by saying you just burned more wood.
poplar requires more room than I have... The roots go a long way. Check out the distance from things like foundations the trees need to be (farther from my house than my property line). I am thinking of planting willow tree/shrubs. They can be harvested every second year. I have only a city lot, so I don't know if I can grow enough... but everyone else throws away all their trimmings. I would make bundles to use instead of logs.... this would only work in a mass heater (rocket or masonry) where quick burning was a plus or it would be a lot of work tending the fire On the other hand... maybe a machine could cut them the right length to use in a pellet stove.
Travis Philp wrote:
What is your climate/hardiness zone? Soil type, etc.?
Zone 5-6(right at the line). I'm not sure about soil type--some places it's rich with rotted leaves and wood, others it's grassy, others it's barren from the pine tree droppings(acidic?).
I did fell 2 mulberry trees that were 24-30" diameter this past fall. They were horrible looking with broken branches all over and vertical splits in the trunk--maybe from ice storm damage some years back. They did keep the birds out of my other berries though--food for thought. I do want to try the Osage Orange--if anything they make a useful fruit to play with.
Bamboo might be a bit tricky to burn in a typical woodstove as it is hollow sticks instead of logs, but can be used in a rocket stove, and there are places that are pelletizing bamboo for fuel or using it to generate wood gas and burning that.
The biggest issue with bamboo is that it is rather difficult and expensive to establish a large planting, and it takes time.
I don't know of any other tree that grows as fast, however, you gotta store the wood high and dry and use it up as it won't keep for a lot of years as firewood, it tends to rot from the inside out..
Here's a tool that splits bamboo easily.
(edited to strike through 'not' - my bad!)
Jonathan Byron wrote:
Yes, bamboo could cause issues with a rocket stove - but not if it is split into splints, or if the side branches are used. Even when split, bamboo is just kindling to most stoves.
The only bamboo I have seen around here is pretty small.... less than 1/2 in thick. It does seem to be hardy though. As far as using in a rocket stove... maybe a cartridge system would work so that the top of the bamboo would be covered. The old stoves on the Canadian prairies used grass and straw. Black berry canes burn well and grow fast.... but it would take a lot to warm all winter... not to mention hard to handle. I think the burn chamber needs to be designed around the easiest to obtain fuel.
What about planting birch? or Manitoba maple aka box elder? Why not a mix of several?
Dave Jacke is one author of the two volume set "Edible Forest Gardens" that you might know of.
Jonathan Byron wrote:
Also, for general consideration, bamboo can be far more productive than wood (10-30% increase in biomass per year for bamboo vs. 3-5% for most trees).
thanks, beat me to it.
dont know why it isnt used more in rocket stoves especially . i use it in my garage/woodshop woodstove(along with firewood,branches and scrap wood) it burns great (and hot/fast) as a woodworker/bamboo artisan it's a tough choice as i see the potential in every culm and splinter,i much prefer burning the quickly replaced bamboo and save the usable hardwoods .
2 things i came across on midatlantic bamboo nursery's site:
Bamboo, when used as fire wood, produces more btu per weight than hardwood and makes less ash.
Bamboo charcoal will maintain a constant heat longer than hardwood charcoal.
definitely like the coppicing ideas here too for their other benefits.
i think i recall Erica/Ernie mention in a RMH post that they feed their RMH on just their tree trimmings? which i think might've equaled 1/2 a cord.dont quote me on that!.
edit: i was wrong it wasnt in a post...it was a video
The willow has given us quite a bit of firewood so far. My basketry was not very good but it burned well Willow does weave well into wattle with hazel uprights. It is also fun to play with making living structures such as benders.
When we fell a few willow poles, they get left on the field for the sheep to graze off all the leaves and young shoots. Then it is left to season for a while and cut up for kindling and firewood.
May or may not be an issue for some folks:
Bamboo has air pockets so larger bamboo does a lot of serious popping in the fire place if not split first
oh you DO need to split it! i just cut it down to size on a chopsaw real quick-like and splits easy with a small hatchet .i do want to get a bamboo splitter(for craft projects mostly. probably a 4-way and maybe a 6 or 8. they go up to 12 ! useful for making fly-rods i'd imagine
GPTech, Here is a list of coppicable trees I've compiled for Missouri so far (I'm over on the KC side):
maple (not sure which species, yet)
oak (verified red and white, so far)
butternut (aka white walnut)
The hazel tree had me going, as I am only familiar with American hazel bushes, but hazel is always listed in the European coppicing literature. It turns out their hazel tree is related to our bush. But it is listed as a large bush/small tree. I think it would be better for rods and poles than for firewood. Hervor, are you using American or European hazel?
Catalpa, willow and alder are off my list as firewood, due to their low btu content.
I've ordered mulberry and persimmon for my edible-forest hedge row, but I hadn't realized how high their btu's were (Most fruit trees have decent btu's, so I shouldn't be surprised).. I'll probably experiment with some of them to the firewood lot, for more diversity and food for critters. Like the hazel and osage orange, they don't get very tall and are normally wide trees. But they may grow tall and straight in a dense planting... I'll let you know in 5 to 10 years
I also have butternut and shellbark hickory ordered for the edible hedge. Once they get established, I'll be adding them to the wood lot, too.
Yet another wood btu content list, my favorite: http://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm. It has trees sorted by both btu content and by name.
I like those bamboo splitters.
Lastly, http://www.gardenguides.com has a field in its taxonomy section for "Responds to Coppicing". I'm was surprised and impressed when I saw that. It makes it easy to check the coppicablity of your local species.
I used to live in the Pacific Northwest and work in a hybrid poplar research lab. Now compared to a traditional forest setting, a hybrid poplar clone (often a P. deltoidies - P. trichocarpa cross, sometimes others) can, in the right setting, produce four times the fiber per acre. There's a lot of genetic variation. What works outstandingly in one location may be poor in another. That's why they do multiple trials of multiple clones. A clone is just planting material from one tree to grow another. There's nothing extraordinary about it. Some idiots once attacked our lab, worrying we were making supertrees that would replace the natural forests of Oregon and Washington. Hogwash. As someone with some environmental consciousness, I was proud of the work done there. It uses farmland, not forests. It soaks up groundwater pollutants from manure runoff to dry-cleaning solvents. It takes pressure off of natural forests to produce fiber. It's fiber is very pale, so when paper is made from it (a common industrial use) less bleach is needed to make the paper white. But anyway...
Wood burns at 6400 BTU per pound, +/- 1%, pretty much regardless of species. The trick is to spread branches fast to capture as much photosynthesis as possible, and then turn that energy into wood. This means that the fastest growing trees, producing the most wood, are also going to be fairly light weight wood, lower in BTUs per cord, but high in BTUs per acre per year.
The fastest growing species are going to be willows and poplars, generally. Neither is the ideal wood in the stove, but both produce lots of wood per acre. Being fairly soft, they're easy to cut. This is an advantage. I haven't dealt with much willow, but poplar splits easy when green. It's almost impossible to split when dry. Once rotted a little, it splits again. Rotted more, it splats instead of splits. Split it green. Beware that poplar gets slimy under the bark when it's half dry.
Now the ideal wood is going to be easy to plant. Poplars plant by shoving a 12" cutting, about as big around as a finger or thumb, into the ground so there's only one bud showing. Protect it from voles and grass competition. It should grow 6' per year. Willow will do the same, more or less. I understand that locust is almost that easy, but I need confirmation from someone with experience. Don't pay $20 for a tree when a free cutting will do just as well. If you need lots, maybe buy cuttings, but for just a few, keep your eyes open and pruners handy.
The ideal wood is going to take well to coppice. Willow does this. I don't know if poplar does this quite so well, as we never did coppice experiments when I was working in that lab. Depending on species, it might. It certainly propagates from root cuttings. Damage the roots near the surface and they all sprout into new trees. There are places in the center divider on I-5 near Seattle where the commercial mower scalped the ground around a poplar, and now there's a poplar grove. Locust is known to coppice well. Splitting won't be such an issue, as it never gets big enough in a short coppice rotation to need to be split.
Locust fixes atmospheric nitrogen. So does Alder. Trees shed and grow roots yearly or even more often, so that nitrogen may be available to nearby trees, if their roots intermingle. Here I come to my point: I plan to plant a mix of locust and willow. I may add other species. All will give me firewood. All will be coppiced for fast regeneration. If Permiculture principles are correct, having multiple species will increase yield. Willow will get the fire started, and locust will keep it going.
I used to live in the Pacific Northwest and work in a hybrid poplar research lab. Now compared to a traditional forest setting, a hybrid poplar clone (often a P. deltoidies - P. trichocarpa cross, sometimes others) can, in the right setting, produce four times the fiber per acre.
Poplar is one of the best coppicing trees around. As you said less BTUs per volume, but lots of growth per year to more than make up for it. The only thing I would like to know is how far from foundations do they need to be? Anything I have read says I don't have room for even one because of the root system size. Also, it has to be used before it rots.... which they do even while standing... probably need to be cut at 3 to 6in diameter... split and dried.
these are called red baron willow but do not get the weeping shape. I planted some 5 years ago and they are now 35 feet tall and 11" dia. and this is in clay in wisconsin so they should grow faster in MO. best thing is you can cut branches and stick them in ground to plant more.
not as good as burning hardwood but fast growing
Kathleen Sanderson wrote:On the bamboo, can they handle a heavy clay soil? I was looking through the information at one of the places that sells cold-hardy bamboo and couldn't find anything that said.
Bamboo grows like crazy in the hard red clay down here in Georgia. Careful though, it can spread and take over.
I've slowly been working on a wood lot. I was gald to know that butternut is a good choice. I selected it for its nuts not for wood burning. Its the only zone 3 nut tree I could find.
So why isnt pine on those lists?
Regarding poplar. they do burn fast but they are known in these parts to burn really hot so you have to burn twice as much to heat a house. People burn them to clean out their stove pipes around here. It will actually clear out the junk in the pipes so they tell me. We have lots of popular locally available. You have to drive 50 miles to find pine.