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Author Topic: Tree Maturity?  (Read 11339 times)

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Online Jeff

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Tree Maturity?
« on: March 22, 2002, 04:50:56 am »
This was the intended topic of another thread. "High grade or not" started by Tarm. I now, as a non-forester want to know the answer too, or answers.

How do we define the term maturity in relation to a tree, and how do we know when a tree has reached this point? Do we need to know what we want of our woodlot, and if our goals are different is the answer to the question different?
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Offline Tom

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2002, 05:16:59 am »
My Forester asked me, "What do you expect of the land?"

The points he gave me to think about included, Residential Development, Recreation, Wildlife habitat, pulpwood, sawtimber and firewood.  The suggestions for trees included hardwoods and conifers. The rotation depended on what I was aiming at for the end product. Most of my swamp is "overmature" because the commercial mills have a cutoff of 22" diameter.  My desire for a Wildlife passage and Recreation is not limited to tree size but rather to health.  Even the dead ones have a place.  Crowded trees become firewood and occasionally a board or two from my mill.

I have pine in plantation that is destined for sawtimber.  It will be cut for pulp as it reaches that stage (economic maturity) and the rest will be taken care of until it reaches marketable size for saw logs (its econonmic maturity).

I would suppose that a tree is measured in "economic maturity" until it reaches a point in its life when it begins to degrade from age and its ability to cope with the strains of life, just as we do.  Even then its use is based on economics.  It can be left, to die, to feed the forest or taken to feed the human.  

That's a non-forester answer but viewed as a landowner and an inspired keeper.
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2002, 07:14:53 am »
   Your definitions of 'economic maturity' are predicated on a market set limit of 22" in the case you mention. If the mills were less limited, would the trees themselves be capable of producing sound would of greater diameter? I'm not saying I'd expect you to cut your own throat and defy market reality to give the trees the chance to achieve their full potential  :) - but I can see that asking the question in the 2 different ways can give 2 different answers. It's like raising steers for slaughter versus raising a herd sire. Functional maturity and optimal growth curve will be drastically different.  lw
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Online Texas Ranger

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2002, 07:23:51 am »
Hmm, more envolved topic than you may think.  I can call up three levels of maturity.  Economic, physiological, and cultural.  Each has a different purpose, and view from the individuals doing the looking (sure wish we had spell check to work out the bad typing I am exhibiting this morning).

Economic maturity is just that, the value has reached a level where it is time to cut.  This is at different ages for different species and products.  Obviously, poles will have an economic maturity later than pure pulp wood production.  Economic maturity has absolutely no connection to physiological maturity.

Physiological is just that, as well, when the tree has the markings of a mature plant, usually when it reaches the full potential in height growth.  Again different by species.  And this (height) varies with site, so there is a little slipage here as well.

Cultural is the kicker of the three.  That is maturity in the eyes of the human species, in terms of human life expectancy.  Few humans, other than those envolved in producing the forests for the future, think beyond a human life span.  They do not recognize that all life, even trees, have a life span and that 40 yearl old pine is as mature as the 80 year old pine, just not as old.  They see the land they remember as having big trees on it as a kid now in pulp production to meet the needs of the population, and wonder where all the "old growth" went, when it may have been the end life of an earlier plantation.

I suppose the "kid" foresters out there may have a few more refinements in maturity than us old hands, but I have never been much for reinventing the wheel.
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2002, 07:37:56 am »
   EXCELLENT post! Those with discerning eyes will recognize- as has been mentioned- that even snags- which are unlikely to evoke much tenderness in yer typical treehugger- will afford a wonderful resource for woodpeckers and possibly nesting raptors or other cool creatures.

  Take time out from the debate to realize how privileged we are to be living in these surroundings. Even if it is a cultural battleground at the moment, hopefully the level of consciousness is being raised by the debate- and more light and less heat is being generated.   lw
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2002, 01:57:02 pm »
A mature tree is a tree that based on ownership objectives has reached the desired size, age, or condition at which it should be cut. The tree should have attained the age or size at which it possesses the qualities characteristics of the species. You as the landowner determine when your trees are mature trees based on your management objectives whether is be social, economical, bilogical, etc.

When pertaining to an individual tree or even-aged stand it is one cabable of reproduction and has attained most of its potential height growth, or has reached established mechantability standards.

Again, select them by the "worst" first based on management objectives. Recognize that your "worst" beech tree might be your "best" wildlife tree if your objectives includes an emphasis on wildlife. This beech may provide mast and be an "animal inn".  
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Offline Tillaway

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2002, 04:19:20 pm »
I think all the previous post pretty much hit the nail on the head.  Maturity is what you decide it is.
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Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2002, 07:56:42 pm »
I heard  a rumor today that, Boise Cascade is not going to cut any more "old growth".  Have any of you folks heard anything of the kind in your neck-of-the-woods? :P
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Offline psychotic1

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2002, 08:23:07 pm »
If I remember what I "thought" I heard correctly.  they're defining "old growth" by a certain numbers of years "?" and in stands over 5000 acres.  I distinctly remember the tree-hugger they allowed to comment after the story not being satisfied.  Imagine that.

Bruce
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2002, 08:04:39 am »
I've heard the same and seen it publicized. Boise isn't going to harvest in old growth. They will manage the same as the Feds in this respect.

Age is only one component of old growth.
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Offline Cedar Eater

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2002, 07:53:52 pm »
I define maturity as when the urge to whack it becomes darn near uncontrollable. :D :D :D :D

It's like the old supreme court justice who said about pornography, "I can't define obscene, but I know it when I see it."

The key seems to be having enough knowledge and experience to know what you are seeing. I've been getting a crash course in forestry for the last month or so, because some of my aspens and red maples appear to my uneducated eyes to be declining. The CD forester confimed this and pointed out things like conks that were "corrupting" the trees. I've now learned about seed trees and wolf trees and wildlife trees and other reasons why you wouldn't harvest a tree just because it was "big enough". I've also seen a graph with two curves that show a comparison between ideal and actual quantities for the different diameter classes in a given area. Graphs I can understand, but I know that they are just analysis tools. They don't help much when you have two trees in front of you and you can't decide which or whether either should go.

So for me, it's a matter of gaining enough education to balance my urges. One urge says to cut any tree that will probably die before the next cut in 10-15 years. Another urge says to take out all the crooked trees. Another urge says to leave all of the desirables and weed out all of the undesirables. I pity my consulting forester already, because he's gonna be justifying every tree he does or doesn't mark until I learn his trade. If he's patient enough, I will reward him with work on my "other" woodlot. Even I know that one's gonna be a challenge to make productive.
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Offline Bud Man

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2002, 08:54:56 pm »
That could take a while. :P  At least you have a local familiar with the area. ;) Knowledge is exciting when you combine it with a usage.  Mikes you feel like you doing the right thing.  allthough sometimes you wanna just rip and snort, and theirs a lot that's not in the books, it just feels right !! 8)  Saw On
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Offline Tarm

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2002, 07:52:59 pm »
Jeff, the thread I started you moved over to here so I'm following it over.
As I've said before there seem to be many different beliefs as to what is a mature tree. From my experiences one could describe four different harvest philosophies.
1. The "if it makes a sawlog, cut it." This method is usually used by the diameter limit logging crews that cruise the countryside looking for a farmer who needs some quick cash. " Heh, Mister Farmer I'll give you $3,000 for all the trees over 12" in your woodlot." Farmer thinks " $3000! Wow! That woodlot hasn't done anything for me since I took the cows out in 1972. I was wondering where I was going to get the money to fix the transmission on the tractor." " Okay, where do I sign and when do I get my money." A 12" tree should make one, grade three, eight foot sawlog with a 10" top. This unfortunately is probably the most common form of harvest.
2. The "grow it until it has a number one sawlog in it" This method is popular in publicly owned timber companies. They carefully nuture their woodlands but harvest them aggressively. Most trees over 16" are harvested. They simply cannot afford to carry the huge capital investment in a forest of large diameter trees. If they do they become the target of corporate raiders who will buy the company, strip off the timberlands and resell the mill(s).
3. The "as long as it is increasing in grade let it grow". Privately owned timber companies and multigenerational families usually use this method. Trees are grown much larger and given a chance to be all they can be. Trees are harvested when they no longer will jump grades. Sawlog to veneer or #2 sawlog to #1 sawlog. This method increases the value output from an acre of forest but also increase the standing inventory and demands patience.
4. The "trees will be allow to grow as long as they remain low risk and show high vigor". Big Tree Silviculture is another name for this method. The Menominee Tribal Forest is the only place I know of where this method is used. Trees are allow to grow and grow and grow until they reach huge size by today's standards. 150 year old trees are common. Hard Maples 28" in diameter  White Pines 36" in diameter. Obviously very high quality logs are harvested from such a forest. Forest inventories are very high. I once went on a tour of the tribal forest. I asked one of the foresters how much would an acre of mature white pine and hemlock would be worth. He said, (ten years ago) stumpage value only, $9,000. Although I think this would be the ideal way to manage a forest I don't see how in the real world of taxes and human lifespans it would be possible outside of very special situations.
My confusion about all these methods is that they cannot all be right .Somebody has got to be wrong. So fellow forum members how should we manage hardwood forests? Which of these four method do you think is "THE RIGHT WAY". For your own forest, for the national forests, and for that matter for forest around the world.    

Offline Tom

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2002, 08:11:36 pm »
Tarm,
I'm not a forester nor an economics major.  I am a miniscule landowner with hardwoods in an area that is not known for them and pines planted in plantation.  

I approach my crop with the same attitude as I would the purchase of a tool.  I wouldn't buy a tool and then go out to try to find a use for it. I would have a need first and then puchase the tool to solve it.

By this token I manage my land.  The market for pines is post, pulp, chip and saw, sawlogs, poles and veneer.  My plantings have the opportunity to be sold in each of these catagories.  For esthetic purposes I would like to produce veneer ultimately but if the price of sawtimber is high enough to warrant their cutting when the time comes then I will replant rather than wait.

The thinnings produce each product.  The low grade will almost always make pulp.  I will not interplant but will manage to a clear cut.

The mechanical limits of the mills control the sizes of the product.......I am a grower. Maturity depends on the market and the availability of the product on the land.  

I think that a Cookbook/one-size-fits-all management plan is a fallacy.

Purhaps hardwoods could be managed much the same way.  Aim for the ultimate market.  Harvest today's market with the idea of grooming your better trees.  The difference is that Hardwoods can be interplanted,.I understand, so you could reach some sort of equalibrium where the woodlot was sustaining its growth.

And yes, in reality, my trees are probably for someone else.
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Offline Bud Man

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2002, 10:27:53 pm »
Tarm  I think farmers are a tad smarter than your scenario in #1 In fact they are one of the smartest segments of the populace I know of, out of necessity. Want to learn how to barter , take on a Farmer, they turn a right smart amount of  money in a years time and have to be quick on their feet and with the smarts to get a modest return, dumb ones lost there farms years ago.  Yes, I suppose their are a few logging crews out there trying to seek out easy prey, but hopefully  woodlot owners are becoming educated and maybe Gordon will get a chance to oversee their predation efforts in the future.  #2 I don't know too many publicly owned Timber Companies and if there are I hope they aren't run on diameter limits.    #3 Privately owned Timber Companies squeeze their trees and holdings  for every nickle or % return they can get and plan for sustained maximum yield in the future. The bigger they are the more they have had to deal with the tree hugging envirofreaks and special interest groups to maintain their ability to survive and be able to provide the wood products and resources they tend.   #4  Approximates the usage of Silvicultural practices, in so much as some trees will reach a larger size.    You can bet their are some Economics being utilized in all of the scenarios you have listed or these folks, like fools and their money, will part with their money, land,  and or profit.    The Native Americans, were never use  to worrying about ownership or limited resources till they were confined to a specified amount of land and resources. They were not and are not wastefull people and utilize things to the maximum, and plan for the next crop. Next time you chat with them ask them how their harvesting is based.     All of the scenarios you created call for management and purposeful actions, and they all would most likely be vastly different.  There is no "Yellow Brick Road Or Universal Answer "   Maximizing yield and getting the most return of many, many kinds (timber and $ dollars being just one ) and maintaining a renewable resource for the future is not based on a Crap Shoot or hitting a diameter number. Have a great day.
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2002, 03:54:23 pm »
Tarm

I like the way you broke them down into the 4 categories.  I would suggest that all 4 are valid in certain situations.  What would dictate the size of timber would most probably be site quality.

It would be futile to try and grow large trees on a poor site.  Growing to sawtimber size may be a viable alternative.  As the quality of the site improves, so would the size of timber.

The only drawback, there is never any mention of providing reproduction.  Is it supposed to be stump sprouts, seedlings or just releasing surpressed trees?  If you're releasing surpressed trees, trying to get large trees wouldn't be a wise management choice.  They'll go bad before you reach your objective.

There was a German forester on another board who was explaining some of their management techniques.  He also had posted some pictures of the German hardwood forests.

They were growing large sized trees in the overstory.  But, they also managed the middle forest - the secondary layer.  These were mainly shade tolerant species and were cut every 20 years for fuel wood.  An interesting concept.

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Offline Tom

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2002, 04:07:55 pm »
Ron,
Reproduction in my case would be seedlings.  It's not that seed trees lack the ability to reproduce the stems but nursury grown seedlings are generally much better.  What is being done on the nursury now days is unbelieveable.  The Super Slash I have planted on the front of my property is 2/3 the size of the trees in my other plantation and  only 1/2 the age.

When I get ready to replant, I'll bet they have something even better  For pulp, it's good. I think they will work for sawtimber because most of the growth is in height.  Time will tell.

The genetic engineering going on is what makes me lean toward a final clear cut.

uneven aged pines (interplanting) has already been proved to be non-viable..




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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2002, 04:16:22 pm »
Very little planting in hardwood stands up this way.  Planting seedlings is usually reserved for Christmas trees and strip mines.

The reason I bring up regeneration is that everyone always talks about trees being mature but very little about growing the next stand.  The only regeneration cuts I see are on governement property or something the pulp companies are doing.

Most foresters do not mark any pulpwood timber, in this area.
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Offline L. Wakefield

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2002, 03:02:11 am »

Quote

.

It would be futile to try and grow large trees on a poor site.  Growing to sawtimber size may be a viable alternative.  As the quality of the site improves, so would the size of timber.


  Hi Ron. I'd like to zero in on this a bit. Are you defining 'a poor site' in terms of location (swamp for example)- or poor soil- or present timber or other trash? I see you mentioning the prospect of the site improving. I'm trying to see how this would happen (depending on what's wrong with it in the first place).

  I have a couple swampy areas where the trees seem to have a lot of bark defects suggestive to me of rot- and don't seem to be very well set in the ground. I think it's because it's a) too wet, b) too shaded, and c) maybe too acid. Is this the sort of thing you are talking about?

  In my case, I am not sure that removing some of the trees would lighten it up sufficiently to result in significant drying or lowering of the water table. It would help if it is a problem of too much shade. And i suppose lime might help IF it's too acid.

  What problems have you seen, and what strategies have worked?    :P   lw
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Tree Maturity?
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2002, 03:59:18 pm »
Site quality refers to how productive an area is for a particular species.  This is usually dictated by climate and soil. Neither would be very easy to adjust.

What I was refering to was as site quality increases, you have a wider range of choices as to what size your timber could reach.

Wet and swampy areas are really tough for most people.  It seems that cedar does well in the swamps.  There isn't much cedar in my area.

Have you ever gotten the soil maps for your land?  You should be able to get them at the county extension office.  There should also be something on the best types of trees to grow in each of those types of soils.  I used to get a book of photos of the entire counties I was working in with the soil types overlayed.  I found them to be very useful.  
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