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Author Topic: Natural tree density/acre  (Read 748 times)

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Offline livemusic

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Natural tree density/acre
« on: February 16, 2017, 05:36:15 pm »
As I like 'big woods,' meaning big trees with not much density, I would like to grow such a forest if possible. I won't live to see it, but give it a big headstart. As I drive around, I always look at the forests around here. Take a hardwood plot where there are not many southern pines... nature seems to allow really thick density. Makes me wonder how 'big woods' ever occur. I have much to learn, lol. But it seems that a lot of woods are really, really dense with trees, and you don't see many big trees. Mature trees, but not real big. I wonder if these same woods looked pretty much the same 200 years ago.
~~~
Bill

Offline curdog

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 09:29:39 pm »
Fire played a major role in shaping forest in the past. Many southern forest had a fire return interval of 1-10 years give or take. This favored more fire tolerant species and lowered the volume of timber per acre, which allowed for more diameter growth.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2017, 06:08:50 am »
One of my first timber purchases as a procurement forester was a stand of old growth oak.  I'm not sure of the age, but there were pretty decent sized trees.  I didn't take any readings and it was 45 years ago.  If I recall, the understory was non-existent.  The canopy was completely enclosed and allowed for no reproduction.  The stand was probably from abandoned fields. 

About 5 years later, I worked as a consulting forester and we had a sale of what was probably virgin timber.  The largest tree was a 54" red oak.  The red oak averaged 36" in that stand.  Again, the canopy was closed and it was very park like.  What stood out in that stand was not only the big trees, but the stand composition.  The first stand had lots of oak - red, black and white.  This stand had a lot of beech. 

About 20 years ago, I replaced the old pine on my house with new pine.  The house was built in the 1850s, and the pine was old growth.  What stood out was that the pine had 20 rings per inch.  That shows the stand was very thick.

To get a stand of big wood in the shortest amount of time, you need to have room for crown expansion.  The only way you get growth is for the crowns to get bigger.  Best way to do that is to get rid of the competition.  In nature, it takes a while before the more dominants crowd out the competitors.  If you want to manage for big wood, you favor the dominants over the smaller co-dominants.   But, you do it in such a way that you don't allow big holes in your canopy. 

I once saw a German plan of management.  They were growing white oak in the overstory to 36".  This allowed some periodic thinning, but they utilized full canopy.  The next zone was the middle forest.  They took advantage of the trees that could grow under those conditions.   If I recall they were coppicing ironwood for fuel and had a 20 year rotation.  The lower forest was reserved for shrubs and the like. 

Basically, to get big trees you want to use full utilization of the canopy through thinnings and favoring dominants over co-dominants and suppressed trees.  In my travels, that is often contrary to most management that I see.
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Offline DMcCoy

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2017, 08:42:04 am »
You are talking about a management plan, one that extends beyond your lifetime.  I'm not sure if you can put deed restrictions on this sort of thing or not.

I view my activities as augmenting the natural process, except where nature might allow a beat up tree to live I remove it if there are better ones near by.  I thin weak trees that won't make it long term, and I thin frequently.  Also I thin looking up at the canopy not always the stem, making sure what I leave has room and the ability to fill in.  I took a full 50% out of a 15yr old stand about 8 yrs ago, you would never know it today.
I also limb up my trees. Limbing to 12' reduces fire hazard over the long haul, ladder fuels they call them.  There were cost share programs that I didn't know about until after the fact.  Most of the limbs I cut are missing their needles already, limbing also prevents dead knots in lumber but I seriously doubt a log buyer would pay extra.
Lastly I seek diversity.  If I get a rare tree(rare to our area) like a dogwood, cherry, mountain hemlock, or Western Yew I will cut everything else.  I leave the wild climbing honeysuckle as well.  Totally personal choice here and not an economic one.
I have a few monster trees 4'-6' DBH @150'.  They are almost too big to cut because of the damage they will do to everything else.  Big trees are cool and I feel a sense of reverence towards them, but trees are a resource.  Every time I think about cutting them I think about the other 20 or so trees that will get crushed, unless I do a clear cut. I have left them and probably will, you just don't see trees like that around here anymore. Not rich but don't need the money either.  Mills are not set up for big trees anymore either, another factor to consider.  Lots of factors and it really is a personal choice - what the long term plan is.  Can you leave a few patches of big stuff and manage the rest for a shorter duration.  Do you want the money during retirement sorts of questions factor in too.
What ever you do - enjoy it.  When I get stressed out I grab my tools and take a hike.
My 2 cents FWIW.


Offline livemusic

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2017, 10:38:51 am »
What you gents expressed is exactly what I want to do. I am repeating myself, as I have stated this goal a couple of times already on this board. The expertise you fellows have is exactly what I wish I could find around here. I haven't tried, so, maybe I can. I mean, a forester or expert who runs counter to the norm around here, which is growing pines for profit. Egads, now hardwoods bring even more money and they are cutting them like crazy. Mostly clear cut, yikes.

So, my goal is to leave a legacy of a diversified forest with lots of big trees. I want to acquire more land; I just closed on the first purchase, 57 acres. I hope I can buy more around it, but that will likely not be easy. It's prime deer hunting land, and the tract I would like to have most (because it adjoins mine and is hardwood) I may have no chance for, because the owner is a deer hunter. The other tracts are owned by wealthy landowners or timber companies. If they were to sell, I would probably have to pay a large amount. I don't know what it takes to buy land from a timber company. I would prefer to have at least 160 acres. More if I can find it and buy it at a reasonable price. If it were a quarter section, it would be square one-half mile in each direction, a nice, big piece of ground. But 640 acres is a square mile. How awesome that would be. Too bad I wasn't born a generation earlier when land was much more affordable.
~~~
Bill

Offline IndyIan

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 02:56:57 pm »
57 acres is a good start, we have a local provincial park full of large trees and the part with trails isn't much bigger than that.  Its still plenty impressive! 
I have a dozen 3 to 4' White Pines scattered in my woods but they are forest grazing and weevil survivors and aren't perfect specimens, but the just the bark is something you don't see on younger smaller trees.
I find in my woods anyways, the big guys seem to be winning quite well, but they are above the rest of the canopy.  I hadn't thought of selecting a few other "winners" to grow to that size more quickly but maybe I will experiment.

Online John Mc

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 09:03:11 pm »
Why not offer that deer hunter free lifetime hunting rights if he sells to you? If his main goal is to hunt it, he doesn't necessarily need to own it to hunt it.  He may also want some guarantee that ti won't be subdivided and developed for a certain number of years (which doesn't sound as though it will be a problem, given your goals).
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline livemusic

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 01:04:41 pm »
Why not offer that deer hunter free lifetime hunting rights if he sells to you? If his main goal is to hunt it, he doesn't necessarily need to own it to hunt it.  He may also want some guarantee that ti won't be subdivided and developed for a certain number of years (which doesn't sound as though it will be a problem, given your goals).

I suppose that might work for some people but I don't know if I could do that. He has two sons and they all hunt, so, that means three men, all with ATVs. Much too invasive for me. I guess I could consider it if it's the only way to make a deal, but I'd think hard about it. I prefer to have control of my property to accomplish what I want to do. And now, deer hunters don't just do one season, they do every season available... rifle, bow hunting, muzzle loader, with dogs, without dogs. I looked at the seasons this year and I think it was basically 3.5 months! October 1 through mid January. When I was a kid, it was about a month, lol. Of course, we have much more deer. If I were to grant him/them hunting priveleges, it eats up pretty much the time when I'd like to be doing work there -- the cool months.
~~~
Bill

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Natural tree density/acre
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2017, 04:05:29 pm »
Good reasoning. ;)
~Ron