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Author Topic: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations  (Read 1990 times)

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Offline Dylan21502

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Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« on: September 24, 2017, 10:28:57 am »
How do you distinguish high grading from select cutting (favoring veneer quality trees,
~   <=16" DBH)?
In essence, please give me some 'tell-tale signs' of high grading and/or other irresponsible stewardship practices associated with logging.
-Any help will be greatly appreciated.

I'm working for a company (in the eastern region of the US, oak hickory association) and I have extremely limited logging experience. I'm told "[we only sell veneer and the rest is left for the land owner for fire wood use.]" A mentor of sorts nonchalantly warned me to "look out for high grading" after I explained the job details to him but didn't sound concerned.

The few sites I've visited have only large trees (<16-18"@ DBH) and caull trees marked. Though, we've cut some smaller mixed hardwoods (12-14"@ DBH) during our current operation.

Currently, the landing consists of stacks organized by spp. and grade: black walnut, yellow poplar, tie logs (the smallest stack), and mixed hardwoods- such as hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), northern red oak, black oak, white oak (possibly), sycamore, and black cherry. Some caull trees (probably spelled wrong haha, dead or dieing trees, cull or caul maybe?) are marked for extraction but we are yet to remove any (presumably, due to time limitations- just started this site and the ["contract is almost up"]).

Although I have no major concerns that our conpany is "destroying the environment" so to say, I just want to be able to sleep at night (only kidding..). I got into this buisness to improve forest health via stewardship practices.. not degrade it.
Well, that.. and to get buff for the ladies ;) haha

-Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2017, 04:38:29 pm »
Deliberate high grading would be pretty easy to spot.  Best timber is cut and crooked, ugly trash is left standing.  That trash will seed the floor with its genetics and doom the stand to a reduced future quality.  If the same site is high graded several times it pretty much guarantees no good tree will ever be grown there.

Diameter limit cutting isnt quite as bad.. "Harvest everything over 13 inch dbh" for example.  Its not best practice but not worst.  If you are culling trees you arent high grading.  It will always improve a stand to cull firewood grade and leave behind the trees with nicest form and growth rate.   Leaving the big crooked bushy scarlet oaks to stay there and reseed the openings youve made around them because.. "We dont do firewood" ... Thats high grading.  Thats destroying a timber stand for your grandkids.  Lay over and let it rot then.  Cut out the cancer, not just the good flesh.

Best practice is pretty obvious in that it produces an incredibly beautiful stand  Several successive cuts are harvested for sale but only the less than choice trees.  The prime trees are collected and cut around.  When another tree encroaches the canopy of the mama's, the encroachers are cut and mama stays.  The beauties are cut either when the market/owners needs (like retirement.. Or unfortunately property sales and subdividing) dictates.  In a perfect forest the behemoths would only go when they have reached their peak and begun decline.  Say an icestorm snaps off a bunch of branches.. Or insects, disease, lightning strike.  Youd wanna get that down and sold asap before rot takes out your investment.    If managed in this way it wouldnt be a huge loss because mama's flawless kin are marching right behind like a stand of gun barrels waiting for release.


Tennessee timber consultants has a 100 page landowner guide on their site that is exceptional if you want to read more.  Bottom line.. When ypu pull out of there.. The site should have clear space and straight stems.  If there are no straight stems to leave, then leave none.  Nature will fix it.  But it wont fix leaving behind the genetic rubbish.  It'll multiply that mistake.  Collect your fastest growers.  Look at the canopy height.  The small diameter but very tall trees.. Those are your keepers, release them. 

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2017, 06:14:22 pm »
What Mike says.

"High Grading" is taking ONLY the best trees, and leaving the junk. After a while, all you have is junk. So coming and and ONLY cutting the veneer quality trees would be considered high grading.

Good management would be a plan where you take out some mature trees, as those are where the money is. But you also take out as much junk as practical, even it it's only usable as firewood. If a tree is never going to amount to anything, take it out, and then hopefully something better will grow in it's place. Any tree that you look at, and think, "I could take that, but it's still growing strong, and will be better in another 10 years", those are the ones you leave to grow.

And of course you can encourage the saplings of the desirable species by clearing away some competition, and planning your harvest to do as little damage as possible to the "leave" trees.

But the thing in the back of your mind as you harvest is that you are planning for the NEXT harvest, and the one after that. And those harvests are going to be better than this one, because of the quality of the part grown trees that you are leaving (for now).

And of course, as pointed out, the future seedlings are going to be seeded by those better trees, hopefully leading to better quality in future generations of trees. Not re-seeded from the "reject" trees that were left behind.
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Offline Clark

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2017, 10:21:16 pm »
Generally speaking, identifying the motive behind a cut is difficult after the wood has been cut. On really high quality sites high-grading becomes very difficult to identify after the fact. When you don't know the average quality of tree that was taken and you're left looking at stumps and the remaining trees you are often guessing. There could be a lot of defect left in the stand and it was not high graded.

If you can see what is marked before it is cut then everything becomes very easy. Poor quality/form trees in all size classes should be marked whether you have the markets for them or not. A well-run timber sale (including the contract and the forester) will recognize that such trees can be left where they lay although a couple of cuts to make the tree lay flat would be expected. The remaining trees should be on the better end of the quality spectrum for that site.

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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2017, 08:26:57 am »
The other side of this coin though is that it is unrealistic for only low grade/junk/overmature trees to be removed. That of course is subject to the intent of the harvest (firewood/pulpwood is a different game) but the commercial reality is that mills and loggers need to make money and the money is in the good logs not the rest. And only the best logs tend to make veneer grades.

So along with removing the trash you need to expect a proportion of better stems to be extracted.

Much depends on the harvest cycle. Theres a lot of difference between only removing veneer logs and leaving nothing but junk behind, and only removing veneer logs but leaving some good logs behind and either taking the trash as well or knowing the next harvest if a fire/pulp cut to clean it up behind ya.
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2017, 10:26:47 am »
I definitely agree.  Its almost economically impossible to alter current practices on any meaningful scale.  Youd need to be a rich man wanting to leave behind an ideal stand to follow best practices.  And some nephew would probably have it high graded before there was grass around your burial plot. 

Seems to me like many of our forests are headed for pulp slowly but surely. Hopefully im mistaken.

Offline Plankton

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2017, 12:45:42 pm »
It does seem like the woods are heading towards pulp from what I see in new England unfortunatly because pulp just doesn't pay and barely anywhere buys it anymore.  The last paper mill around me just closed suddenly they didn't buy logs but they made a lot if paper just another sighn of the declining pulp industry.

At the same time there's a big push for biomass around here by the forest industry unfortunately being held back by Eco people worried about air quality and loggers destroying the forest.
If we can get past that maybe there's hope for a future in a mostly pulp industry.

Offline chep

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2017, 03:38:02 pm »
I wholeheartedly believe in positive forest management. Doing the right thing for the future generations. Leaving good growing stock and culling undesirable is critical.
 The only thing I want to add to the discussion is the idea of seed tree selection. There are 2 terms that I feel are important to introduce here. GENOTYPE and  PHENOTYPE
  Trees genotypes are the genetic characteristics that each specie possesses. And in the right soil and growing conditions trees will naturally obtain "perfect" form. 
 Phenotype is the non genetic response or influence on an individual. Wind, insect damage,  poor soil, mechanical damage etc etc.
 Now. A tree with poor form will not pass that form onto its offspring. It's poor form is the result of it's PHENOTYPE (or growing environment)
 a bully pasture pine has The same genetics as a perfect woods grown pine tree, but because it's environment was open grown, windy etc it ends up with poor form. 
 What's the point?  Your seed trees don't need perfect form. In fact the larger and  healthier their crown is will allow for more seed to be produced. So aggressive cutting around these large trees will give it room to throw more seed then a smaller crowned perfect form tree.
 So it really depends on what stage your forest is in. All forests should have these "nurse" trees left in them. They add biomass and habitat and an amazing seed source for generations. They can be referred to as "legacy" trees also.
  I'm not saying just leave junky big trees everywhere but they are important. I also like to girdle these unmerchantables and leave them ad habitat. Easier then smashing regeneration.
 I think some of you may be a bit mixed up on what is considered a good seed tree. This is my 2 cents and could be a bit dusty from my college classes but just wanted to add to the discussion. Forestry can be confusing and without knowing the foresters goals jobs can look suspect.
 It's great to question the job. But it's also great to understand it.

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2017, 04:58:46 pm »
Hard to say not actually seeing the site. However, if the only trees you are cutting are veneer quality and you the cull trees are "marked for extraction but we are yet to remove any (presumably, due to time limitations- just started this site and the ["contract is almost up"]). I'd be concerned if it were my property. Are the cull trees actually going to get dropped, or are they going to "run out of time"?  If you are taking only veneer and not doing a fair share of timber stand improvement while you are in there, I have to wonder what is going on.

Then again, I'm not a Forester by profession. There are those on here who are much better judges of this than I am.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2017, 02:20:01 am »

...Trees genotypes are the genetic characteristics that each specie possesses. And in the right soil and growing conditions trees will naturally obtain "perfect" form. 
Now. A tree with poor form will not pass that form onto its offspring. It's poor form is the result of it's PHENOTYPE (or growing environment)
 a bully pasture pine has The same genetics as a perfect woods grown pine tree
 What's the point?  Your seed trees don't need perfect form. In fact the larger and  healthier their crown is will allow for more seed to be produced. So aggressive cutting around these large trees will give it room to throw more seed then a smaller crowned perfect form tree.
 So it really depends on what stage your forest is in. All forests should have these "nurse" trees left in them. They add biomass and habitat and an amazing seed source for generations. They can be referred to as "legacy" trees also.
 ...

 Are you saying that all tree genes are basically the same, that a tree's environment is what makes it turn out poorly, totally?   Kind of like the argument regarding human beings, nature versus nurture, sounds like you're coming down on the side of nurture big time.

I only thought about going into forestry, and I would up in accounting, so I can't claim any real expertise.  But though I like the simplicity of your argument, I'm not sure I agree,  assuming I understand what you were trying to say.  Swat me if I erred.
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Online Ianab

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2017, 03:51:21 am »
Quote
Trees genotypes are the genetic characteristics that each specie possesses. And in the right soil and growing conditions trees will naturally obtain "perfect" form. 
 Phenotype is the non genetic response or influence on an individual. Wind, insect damage,  poor soil, mechanical damage etc etc.
 Now. A tree with poor form will not pass that form onto its offspring. It's poor form is the result of it's PHENOTYPE (or growing environment)
 a bully pasture pine has The same genetics as a perfect woods grown pine tree, but because it's environment was open grown, windy etc it ends up with poor form. 
 What's the point?  Your seed trees don't need perfect form. In fact the larger and  healthier their crown is will allow for more seed to be produced. So aggressive cutting around these large trees will give it room to throw more seed then a smaller crowned perfect form tree.

I hear what you are saying, but genetics do have an effect on trees. For the last ~120 years NZ forest industry has been selectively breeding Radiata pine for better growth and form. So the modern seedlings are faster and straighter growing, less branches, more resistant to fungus, and less prone to forming multiple leaders. So if you buy "High GF" seedlings, you can expect 80% good trees, compared to "wild" Radiata that might give 40% with perfect form. And each one 30% bigger. And that would be the average with 2 plots side by side in identical conditions. The difference is genetic. The high GF seedlings are produced by controlled pollination of the pines, and even cloning of the germinating seeds to produce more seedlings. The nursery know exactly the characteristic of both parent trees, so it's not left to chance.

This is the same as crops like corn that seed farmers have bred over the years. Now trees of course have much longer generations, so you can't get a generation to select from every year, maybe 10 years in a controlled nursery environment.

So you might not see such a huge difference in one high grade, but if you do it enough times, the seed stock you are selecting is going to be more of the ones with poor form, poor disease or insect resistance, basically the "runts", and many of their problems will be genetic  Just ask any farmer if they keep the Runts of the litter as their breeding stock?

If you keep selecting the worst trees I'm sure you could breed Pine trees with a Negative GF rating, that were worse than the original wild specimens.
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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2017, 08:09:03 am »
Chep - I'm not sure I followed what you are saying either. Are you saying that IF a trees bad form is due to growing conditions/environment, it will not pass that bad form on to it's offspring? If so, I agree.  If you are saying that genetics has no influence on a tree's form, I can't agree with that.
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Offline Lumberjohn

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2017, 11:47:00 am »
Maybe the landowner wanted it cut that way for the most money? Theres no law in PA that I'm aware of that says the landowner has to have x,y,z trees cut.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2017, 11:51:55 am »
I cant claim to know which is true, but two different forestors have advised me to cull the slow growers so they dont seed the floor and pass the trait on.

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2017, 12:06:56 pm »
Maybe the landowner wanted it cut that way for the most money? Theres no law in PA that I'm aware of that says the landowner has to have x,y,z trees cut.

That may be the case, but he's not asking what the landowner wants. He's asking whether or not this sounds like high-grading.

I don't know about PA, but in Vermont, if you want to be in the Use Value program (which significantly lowers the property taxes of forest land), you have to have a Forest Management Plan and get it approved by the County Forester (and get an updated plan approved at least every 10 years). Then you have to follow what is in the plan. It's unlikely that the County Forester would approve a plan that called for high-grading. Taking out good trees when they are ready for harvest? Sure. Taking only good trees and doing nothing else? Probably not - especially not doing so repeatedly.

I'm not arguing what the landowner should or shouldn't do. He/she may have very good reasons for whatever decision they have made - or they may have no idea what is going on.
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Offline Lumberjohn

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2017, 02:09:13 pm »
"That may be the case, but he's not asking what the landowner wants. He's asking whether or not this sounds like high-grading."
That's my point, whether its cut right, wrong or perfect, , whos to say and what does it matter if that's what the landowner wants. He sounded worried about doing the right thing (whatever that is). Sounds like they were suppose to cut cull trees also, which makes it sound like a forester job to me?
Ultimately, I think its up to the landowner or forester or a combination of to figure it out before hand.

Offline Clark

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2017, 03:33:32 pm »
I cant claim to know which is true, but two different forestors have advised me to cull the slow growers so they dont seed the floor and pass the trait on.

In this sub-debate about genetics and site you are now confusing the two issues. Cutting the slow growers is always a good idea because they are...wait for it...growing slow. Will that trait be passed on if you let them seed in? It seems unlikely since site has such a huge impact on the growth of any and all trees but it could be. Ianab points out the genetic improvement plans for radiata pine and there are similar programs that have been done for doug fir, red pine, southern pines, etc. Genetics does have an influence on growth but you can take the most genetically improved seedling, put it on the wrong site and watch it transform into a cull tree.

So are you better off planting the improved seedlings on the correct site? Of course. Can we, the simple forest-dwelling troglodytes who enjoy trees, tell the difference between a genetically superior tree and a "normal" one? Since it is growing in the wild and site has such a huge influence, probably not.

If we look at red pine (Pinus resinosa) as an example we can see a tree that has very low genetic diversity. If genetics has such a huge influence on growth we would expect red pine stands to be very similar in growth across their range. By and large that is a true statement (site index of 60-70 is almost a given) but there are plenty of examples where site index is considerably higher or lower. Across it's natural range red pine has sites indices of 40-90 which is not simply a doubling of growth rate, it's more like quadrupling! If it was genetics that played such a huge role in growth we would have developed red pine that always grow to 80' tall or more in 50 years.

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2017, 04:54:36 pm »
I agree, site probably does have a much bigger influence on growth than genetics. Mostly if the site doesn't suit that particular species (too dry, too cold, too wet etc)

But if you know that species should be growing well in your location, and the one beside it actually is, that suggests it's not the site, it's the individual tree.

So either way, if a tree isn't growing well, you don't want that tree left there. It's either a genetic runt, or it's the wrong tree for the site. Take it out, and let either a species more suited to the site, or a healthier specimen, grow there.
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Offline g_man

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2017, 07:30:33 pm »
Great discussion all ! Thanks for the excellent explanations. Very interesting and informative.

gg

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Re: Distinguishing High Grading from Veneer Timber Operations
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2017, 08:50:09 pm »
I wholeheartedly believe in positive forest management. Doing the right thing for the future generations. Leaving good growing stock and culling undesirable is critical.
 The only thing I want to add to the discussion is the idea of seed tree selection. There are 2 terms that I feel are important to introduce here. GENOTYPE and  PHENOTYPE
  Trees genotypes are the genetic characteristics that each specie possesses. And in the right soil and growing conditions trees will naturally obtain "perfect" form. 
 Phenotype is the non genetic response or influence on an individual. Wind, insect damage,  poor soil, mechanical damage etc etc.
 Now. A tree with poor form will not pass that form onto its offspring. It's poor form is the result of it's PHENOTYPE (or growing environment)
 a bully pasture pine has The same genetics as a perfect woods grown pine tree, but because it's environment was open grown, windy etc it ends up with poor form. 
 What's the point?  Your seed trees don't need perfect form. In fact the larger and  healthier their crown is will allow for more seed to be produced. So aggressive cutting around these large trees will give it room to throw more seed then a smaller crowned perfect form tree.
 So it really depends on what stage your forest is in. All forests should have these "nurse" trees left in them. They add biomass and habitat and an amazing seed source for generations. They can be referred to as "legacy" trees also.
  I'm not saying just leave junky big trees everywhere but they are important. I also like to girdle these unmerchantables and leave them ad habitat. Easier then smashing regeneration.
 I think some of you may be a bit mixed up on what is considered a good seed tree. This is my 2 cents and could be a bit dusty from my college classes but just wanted to add to the discussion. Forestry can be confusing and without knowing the foresters goals jobs can look suspect.
 It's great to question the job. But it's also great to understand it.
i understand what your saying and mostly agree. had this talk with the county guys and they mostly agree as well.
Question for you, i have tried girdleing beech by using two saw kerfs about an inch deep and about 6" apart. following year they were healed over and growing. well that didn't work. what better method could i use other than a hatchet all the way round? i can't really carry much more gear while falling, but in some places beech is a problem and i'd like to manage it some what while im harvesting.