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Author Topic: Establishing a New Pine Plantation  (Read 53045 times)

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Offline WDH

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Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« on: November 03, 2008, 10:05:41 am »
My brother and I are establishing a new loblolly pine plantation on some pasture land that we inherited from my Father.

We sprayed round-up a few weeks ago to knock back the Bahia grass.  Here is a pic of one of the fields:

 



To successfully establish the plantation on an old pasture with a hard pan, we have to rip open the hard pan so that the tree roots can penetrate below the hard pan.  Here is a pic of the ripping shank with a leading colter:

 



The ripping tooth penetrates to a depth of 20":

 



A pic of the ripped furrow.  My expert contractor pointed out that the ripping shank fractures the hard pan two feet to either side of the furrow! 

 



The ripping machine is a beaut of a tractor...A John Deere 6415 four-wheel drive.  It is doing a great job.  I thought that the soil was too hard from too little rain, but my expert contractor said not to worry ;D.  Here is the JD 6415:

 



Here is a pic of my expert contractor (and sawyer extraordinare), the Forum's Customsawyer.

He is a man of many talents!  He will plant the trees after enough rain has fallen to help get the air out of the rip, probably in January if all goes well.

 



Without the Forum, I would not have know that Jake was a re-forestation contractor.  Now he is a good friend!
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 10:13:20 am »
Hey! That's a prettygood picture of Jake there, I must say though, it would be a lot better picture if Lorraine was standing there instead. ;)


This will be a great thread to keep track of over the coming years.  :)
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 10:45:01 am »
Good story and great pictures. Those rippers have been a big improvement out here on the prairies over the moldboard plow. But most of them I see are pulled by those huge 4 wheel drive tractors with duals and well over 300 HP cause they pull darn hard, especially the first time they are used in a field.
 
Why are you converting the pasture to a pine plantation instead of cropland and how many acres?
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Offline DanG

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2008, 03:50:43 pm »
WDH, I'm glad to see you took pity and gave Jake a little something to keep him off the street. ;D :D :D   Seriously, Jake has so many irons in the fire that he's gonna be in "THE MOTHER OF ALL PICKLES" if the fire goes out! :o

Since this is supposed to be a Forestry Education site, and this thread is probably gonna be a great tutorial on plantation establishment, I'll ask a rather pointed question.  Why Loblolly?  What are some of the criteria that you, as an expert Pine Plantation manager, look at when choosing one type of Pine over another?

The reason I ask that is that most everybody down this way is planting Longleaf, so maybe you could comment on that trend as well? :P :P
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Offline Larry

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2008, 04:11:07 pm »
In north Missouri about the only pine we could grow was red, white, Austrian, and scotch.  None were native and although they grew they were not impressive.  Since moving to Arkansas we have been exposed to loblolly and southern yellow pine.  Planted some of each this spring and a few have already grown to 3 foot tall.  Seemed the loblolly grew slightly faster than the syp.  Donít know if this is normal as we had I would think, a perfect growing season with abundant rainfall.

Looking forward to your comments and thought process WDH...thanks for taking the time to compose what I am sure is going to be a great thread.
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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2008, 04:24:21 pm »
I can help answer your question, DanG: See the red clay on the ripping tooth in the picture above?  That is prime loblolly pine territory, and it will outperform any other species on that site.  In Georgia, part of the reason longleaf pine has become more popular in recent years is because it's easier to get government stipends from the Coservation Reserve Program (CRP) to plant longleaf than loblolly.  It's part of a growing movement to help restore the vast acreages of longleaf pines that were converted to cropland many years ago.  My very own grandfather planted longleaf pine on a site very similar to WDH's for that reason, and he had to replant it twice before he had adequate stocking due to excessive mortality.  Longleafs simply prefer sandy soils, while loblollies will grow so fast on a red clay pasture, you'll have to step back after you set them in the ground to keep from getting hit in the nose ;D.

You, DanG, are in longleaf territory, with soils more suitable for that species than are present in WDH's area, which helps explain why everybody down your way is planting longleaf pine.

Gary_C, I can't speak for WDH, but I can speak as a forester: the rate of deforestation in Georgia is pretty startling.  We are one of the most forested states in the nation, but we're losing forestland at an increasing clip due to agriculture and urbanization.  I'm glad to see that WDH will be putting some trees back on the land :).  Plus, I'm willing to bet that he know a lot more about trees than cotton ;).
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Offline DanG

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2008, 04:38:12 pm »
Thanks Dodgy.  I pretty much had all those factors in mind when I asked the question.  I don't see how Loblollies could grow any faster up there than they do here.  They will knock yer hat off if ya ain't quick on yer feet! :o :D
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Offline Radar67

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 04:41:00 pm »
Other than the County Extension Office, what is a good source for Loblolly and other pines?
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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2008, 04:45:46 pm »

Gary_C, I can't speak for WDH, but I can speak as a forester: the rate of deforestation in Georgia is pretty startling.  We are one of the most forested states in the nation, but we're losing forestland at an increasing clip due to agriculture and urbanization.  I'm glad to see that WDH will be putting some trees back on the land :).  Plus, I'm willing to bet that he know a lot more about trees than cotton ;).

Is cotton the only crop option?  Do they raise any soybeans in that area or even corn?
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2008, 04:51:39 pm »
Pine seem to do very well on fields. We have a lot in red pine up here. Some fields that had white spruce naturals sometimes had red pine inter planted because they catch up to the spruce. The most successful pine on fields with tall weeds and grass were prepared by single furrow plow. By flopping that furrow over and planting on the hinge, it holds the weeds at bay for 3 years. We don't plant down in the scalp and not beyond the hinge the other direction as the roots would dry out. By 3 years the red pine is lots tall and sturdy. We found spraying alone released the worst bunch of weeds God created on some fields.  :D So, I prefer to delay the spray for at least a couple seasons in case a field needs a little dose to help the pine the 3rd and 4th year. Not too much problem with hard pan right around here. Problem is some fields are not meant for pine in these parts, some are too wet. So white spruce will take better. Be good to plant cedar in with it, 50/50 but can't get the seedlings at a good price. Cost quite a bit to get them going in the nursery I guess.

Going to be a nice looking spot WDH when those pine get going. Look forward to see the project unfold. ;D

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2008, 04:53:04 pm »
Other than the County Extension Office, what is a good source for Loblolly and other pines?

I know Weyerhaeuser has a very large pine nursery near Meridian, MS.  I believe the seedlings they sell will be more expensive than those you can get from the government, but they have also been selected for better genetics (in GA, the Georgia Forestry Commission, not the Extension Service, will sell pine seedlings).  WDH may know more since he works for Weyerhaeuser.

Is cotton the only crop option?  Do they raise any soybeans in that area or even corn?

Oh, there's lots of other crops grown in that area, including wheat, soybeans, corn, and sorghum.  I think WDH would have to rent out the land or crop in on shares if he were to keep it in agriculture, but as a forester, he can do a good job looking after the trees himself.  I think I'll let him respond before I go about making any more assumptions about his decision ;)
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Offline WDH

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2008, 06:27:08 pm »
Jeff, you are so right!  I will try to rectify the situation ;D.  Ms Lorraine is a sweetheart!  I apologize for the oversight :).  While Jake may be a handsome man to some, Ms Lorraine is a real beauty!  He says that she is his partner in the tree planting side of the project, so there will be some pics of the better half of this Reforestation company forthcoming!

Dang...we checked out the availability of longleaf cost-share assistance from the FSA.  They have established criteria that say the land must have been row cropped for 3 of the last 5 years.  This land was in hay, which does not qualify.  Like Dodgy points out, this is a sorry site for longleaf, even worse than on Dodgy's Granddaddy's land (some of the best Ag land in all of Houston County).  Even then, the longleaf project on the Tyson Farm required multiple re-plants.  The FSA requires a minimum stocking, and you have to keep re-planting until you achieve the minimum.  I was hesitant about longleaf on this site, but the lure of the cost share money plus the annual CRP payment (about $40/acre) was enticing.  Since we did not qualify, it was a moot point.  Plus, loblolly grows much faster and will yield income much sooner.  The focus on longleaf is a romantic attempt to restore the pre-colonial ecosystem that existed in the flatwoods of the South.  It is well intended, but in many cases, longleaf is being planted on sites that it was never adapted for.  Like this one.  Loblolly was the predominant native pine on these red clay sites in the old days anyway.  Tell that to the government do-gooders :).

Gary_C.  This land was cropped for many years, especially peanuts.  My Dad became unable to farm the land in his latter years, so hay was a fall back position.  Then, he became unable to bale the hay with advancing age, so he allowed others to cut the hay for a share.  The economic return from the share was about the same in annual $/ac the annual $/ac of a tree crop.  If I had the equipment, I could do better with hay.  If I had to invest in the hay equipment with such a small area (40 acres), that would reduce the economic return back to the tree level.  Being a forester, I decided that I was more suited to trees.  Plus, I have about 100 acres of other plantations ranging in age form 13 to 23 years.  It fit my business plan better.  Excellent question, though.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2008, 06:38:53 pm »
Other than the County Extension Office, what is a good source for Loblolly and other pines?

Terry,

Weyerhaeuser has a tree nursery in Aiken, SC.  The trees are improved from controlled mass pollination of the best performing tree families.  They ship to a cooler in my area (the bagged trees have to kept in cold storage until they are planted).  There is also a state nursery about 30 miles away that provides seedlings for sale.  There are several other tree nurseries within 100 miles, some small and private and some ran by big outfits like Weyerhaeuser.  The seedling are available from a multiple of sources.  We will plant on a 12 x 6 spacing or a little over 600 trees per acre.  In total, including the pastures (48 acres), we plant 30,000 seedlings.  The seedling will cost about $1650 or about $35/acre.
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Offline customsawyer

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2008, 07:51:43 pm »
I did not know I am such a handsome looking feller. Well I am glad to see that I didn't break anything when you took that pic. ;D
Just one small mistake in the size of the tractor, it is a 6415 and the loader is a 640. I think that WDH is living right as we got some of the subsoiling done on Saturday and then a small shower today. That little bit of rain will go along way toward getting the air pockets out for when we plant.
I was trying to explain to WDH about how good I am being able to work in his hard dirt and all but he let me know real quick that he thought it was the equipment and not me so I just shut up kept driving that tractor.
With the chemical that they put out there will be some control of the grass and weeds on in to the spring but if it is needed we can apply some other chemicals over the top of the loblolly and control it even longer in to the growing season. One of the great things about the loblolly is the different types and amonts of chemical that you can spray over it with out hurting it.
Yall keep your eye on this place as it will raise some eyebrows watching these things take off. I had one customer that I planted 30 acres for and he sold them at 3 years old for $60.00 each and they came in with a tree spade and dug them up. the shortest ones was just under 11' tall and there were some above 15'.  This customer had been putting lots of fert. and such on his field just befor we planted it so I am sure that helped.
Jeff you have to admit that is a great looking tractor even if you don't like the pic. of me. :D
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2008, 07:58:01 pm »
WDH, are they bare root seedlings? Bare root red pine were really good performers and survival was high. We can't get them any longer since DNR does not sell to private owners any longer. All their seedlings go to crown land license holders for free.  ::)

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Ianab

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2008, 08:08:56 pm »
Do you guys do any lift pruning of the trees once they are established?

Locally it really improves the return if the butt logs are 90% clear wood as opposed to letting them shed branches naturally and ending up with knotty sawlogs.

We mostly grow radiata pine, but the idea would be the same. Properly pruned sawlogs are worth about 5 times what low grade sawlogs are. But the pruning must be done in the first 3-7 years to keep the knots in a small central core.

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Offline WDH

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2008, 09:02:16 pm »
SD...yes, bareroot.

Ianab...there is limited commercial pruning here, mainly done by Weyerhaeuser.  I have one plantation of mine that I pruned that is now 22 years old.  Pruning is done after the 1st thinning, generally around age 11 - 15 years of age.

I saw a good bit of pruning in NZ on my benchmarking trip in 2004.  Here is a pic of a pruned radiata pine plantation in the Nelson, NZ area like you described:

 

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Offline Ianab

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2008, 10:59:45 pm »
Yeah, thats the sort of thing.

Those trees have probably just had their 3rd prune, you can see the lower branch stubs have healed over. I'm guessing your system would need to be different to suit the climate differences. It probably looks a bit extreme if you aren't used to the system, having 20ft of tree with 10 ft of green on top. But it's all about producing that valuable clear wood in relatively young plantation trees.

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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2008, 05:13:30 am »
Pruning isn't practices here on a commercial sized operation. Irving and others have 1000's of acres of pine plantations and never prune a stick. They are so darn limby that I don't even know how you could debark them. Some land owners will prune pine. Many do more damage than good by running the chain saw up the bark. Some do a decent job but only on tiny acreages. I never see much more than 3 or 4 acres done near roads. Never see 50 or 100 acres done. In the west they used to have a pruning program for hemlock and probably lodge pole. Never would you prune spruce or fir because of rot, so here in the east we grow them tight. Most landowners need to do thinnings, but rarely follow up. One logger is going around chipping whole plantations that are no older than 15 years old. He's convinced the owners somehow they should be removed and never planted again.  ::) Either he's desperate to cut wood or the owners are starving to death. I think the owners are still pretty hungry.  ;)

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Dodgy Loner

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Re: Establishing a New Pine Plantation
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2008, 08:42:59 am »
When I worked for Weyerhaeuser, they only pruned once after the first thinning, to a height of 17-18'.  This made the bottom 16' log much clearer.  Labor is too expensive to prune more than once on a large scale, however.

Ianab, it looks like your radiata pine has a tendency to produce "whorls" of branches, rather than branches that alternate along the length of the trunk.  Pruning would probably be more common here if loblolly had that tendency, because concentrating the knots in one area of the stem makes boards much weaker.
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