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Elm Log Surplus Coming Courtesy of Dutch Elm Disease. What To Build With The Logs?  RSS feed

 
Terry Paul Calhoun
Posts: 32
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Hi.

Sadly, DED is sweeping across my 19 acres and I will soon have dozens, if not hundreds, of 8" to 18" DBH dead elms standing around. I am paying a huge amount of money to get injections for my two massive elms. That happens tomorrow morning. It will cost much less, though, than what it would take to pay someone to take them down dead.

After I stop crying, I want to start planning what best to do with all those logs. Right now I am thinking fences, and mushrooms, of course. My property encompasses a 28-hole disc golf course, so I might build obstacles and benches, and the like. Not sure how well Elm stands up outside as a rough piece of tree trunk to make a bench or a table?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts?
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Elm has a high shrinkage rate, so is difficult to use for fancy furniture. It does not last a long time outside. It becomes case-hardened, and is very good for making animal mangers, corn cribs and other things where it will be subjected to wear.

I think a foul taste may have something to do with it being suitable for horse and cattle stalls. Where I grew up in Southern Ontario, these things were made of elm, until the disease wiped out most trees in the sixties and seventies.

Many  barns and other timber structures, utilized Elm. My grandmother's house was made with small elm logs for the floor joists. They were only flat on the top side, and otherwise unprocessed.

I remember my dad saying something about using Elm Timbers, with maple pins. Because the elm shrinks more, it becomes quite tight on the pin that holds things together.

Many Elm trees will twist horribly when they are milled. I think that's why most larger structures used them round, or were roughly hewn with broad axes. Of course the broad axe thing may have had more to do with available technology when many of these structures were built.
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 45
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Elmwood is famously irregular, so it would be difficult to work by hand. When was last time you saw a piece of elmwood furniture? Ive never seen one.  Best use for elmwood is keeping your house warm this winter.  It burns well wand it smoke is pleasant.  Dont try to split it with an ax thought.  Maybe a maul and a wedge but I'd recommend an hydraulic splitter.

Prime mushroom logs are those that are cut in the spring while still alive. So your standing dead elm are no good for that either.  If you have injected a poison into your trees would you want to eat mushrooms that came from it??

Its so ironic that many towns replaced their dead elms with ash trees.  Now that EAB is here we are back to square one!

I am hopeful that elm will evolve a resistance to DED but not in my lifetime. Or yours or our great grandkids.

Jeff
 
John Weiland
Posts: 934
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Jeff Marchand wrote:

Its so ironic that many towns replaced their dead elms with ash trees.  Now that EAB is here we are back to square one!

I am hopeful that elm will evolve a resistance to DED but not in my lifetime. Or yours or our great grandkids. 


Actually I'm more hopeful about the American elm comeback than many....it's uncertain at this point whether some of the newer stock is just tolerant to the fungus or truly resistant [ and see http://www.nebraskafarmer.com/blogs-american-elm-set-comeback-11296 ]  But we are working with both natural selections from elms around our property that are still huge and thriving while being surrounded by DED-killed community members as well as commercially-available stock sold as being DED-resistant.  The commercial material is not without some drawbacks.  We have a 'Valley Forge' that is still young and alive while others nearby have croaked, but we did not realize the following until almost too late:

"....not all elms are the same. Valley Forge elms, with their explosive growth in all directions, need far more pruning than Princeton elms.....
....the reasons to prune are not only esthetic but also for the health of the tree. The first apparent reason to prune young elms is to enable them to develop their optimum form: that wonderful umbrella shape we all desire. The more fundamental reason is to avoid a potential weakness later on caused by the growth of multiple stems or leaders. Not only elms but maples have this tendency, causing stress and ultimate breakage of the branches. Side leaders – major  branches taking over and eclipsing the vertical leader – a potential issue with these species, are no longer a problem when pruned at a young age..." -- http://www.wmassmastergardeners.org/0403.htm

Yeah...we didn't prune.  And with even moderate wind-storms, saw many of the side branches split from the tree at the limb-joint.  We are hoping that late pruning will rescue some of these but were not aware of the problem when first planted.

On a second note, I must admit to just using a splitting maul on our elm wood, but not splitting the really knotty stuff at all....just chainsawing the knotted section into as small a piece as possible to put whole into the woodstove, like a lump of coal.  But the crucial part here as well is *when* to split:  Sub-zero Fahrenheit afternoons in winter are the best time as the wood just seems to 'pop' into the splits that you make with the maul.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1450
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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From the sounds of things,it might make great charcoal.
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 50
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first it was chestnuts, then the ash died now elm, worldwide about 1/2 the coral reefs are bleached and dead whats the world coming to?
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 45
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Dutch Elm Disease predates the Emerald Ash Borer.  And your list is incomplete, the butternut tree is being wiped out by the butternut blight, white pine trees by blister rust (dont plant ribes).  Things could be much worse if the asian long horn beetle gets a toe hold (https://www.ontario.ca/page/asian-long-horned-beetle).
All these tree species put at risk or extirpated by foreign invasive species. I see many posts on permies.com where people promote introduction of foreign invasives species. Not a position I agree with.  Every time we bring something in from abroad  we risk destroying ecosystems that have taken millions of years to evolve.
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 50
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i'm just hoping the 400 chestnut trees i planted this spring stay alive, they look pretty good so far. i've been burning dead ash for the past 2 years to keep warm in winter and it got me wondering what will baseball bats be made of in the future
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 45
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Maple  https://canada.sambat.com/
Hickory https://oldhickorybats.com/

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