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Author Topic: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?  (Read 1029 times)

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Offline Georgia088

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Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« on: December 06, 2017, 08:09:21 am »
I had a standing dead SYP that I cut down yesterday.  Not sure how long its been dead, possibly a year, but I would think no longer.  I was hoping to put it on my homemade mill to saw it up, but after cutting it, I am not sure if the lumber would be good.  Its about 20 inches in diameter at the bottom.  You can definitely tell that the core looks different once you get 8' 16' up the tree.  It looks like the core is solid, but the outside looks questionable.  Any way to check to see if its good?  Don't have many logs to saw so I hate to waste it, but don't want to have lumber that is no good. 

Thanks!

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2017, 08:12:30 am »
   I always found it easy enough to tell with a hatchet or ax. Just start chopping into the sapwood to determine how solid it is. I'd always expect the heart of a pine to be much denser and more solid than the sapwood. Good luck.
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Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2017, 08:21:04 am »
Can you post some pictures of some of the lumber you've cut?  Others may be more familiar with what you might get with standing dead SYP.  Where are you in Georgia?  There might be a FF member close by that can look at it.  I see WV Sawmiller has responded while I was preparing my response.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2017, 08:25:59 am »
If it did not break when felled is a good sign that it is OK, but you still may have to slab heavy.  Bad wood also acts like a mini sponge and holds excess water.  Yes, chopping into it will determine if it is solid.  If a knife point goes much deeper than 1/8th" slab deeper.
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Offline Georgia088

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2017, 08:58:47 am »
I will try and get some pictures up, but I haven't cut into it yet.  It did break when it was cut down.  However, where I cut the log to saw was several feet toward the base from where it broke.  Thanks!

Offline Magicman

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2017, 09:14:16 am »
Some of it may be OK depending upon the use, but the tree breaking tells you that it is certainly not structurally strong.  I mostly saw framing lumber and normally do not saw logs from trees that break.  Wall paneling, etc. would be OK.

The loss will be great but slab heavy and get into the heartwood.
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Online Don P

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2017, 09:35:59 am »
A quick way we check suspect old structural lumber is the "pick test". Take an ice pick, awl or I prefer one of those very tiny flat screwdrivers. Drive it under the wood and lift a flake. If it lifts a long fiber the wood is good. If it breaks over the pick, short and brash, it's decayed.

Offline drobertson

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2017, 12:03:26 pm »
I've seen it both ways, mostly standing ones however are much more likely to be solid than ones that are laying.  Fact is I've sawn some standing dead pine that was pitch perfect,,and as well as I've seen logs that had really soft wood on portions it where as the opposite side was rock solid. Pretty much is a fall and buck to length, often times you can tell its integrity while cutting to length, all in all, its worth the effort most of the time,
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline Den-Den

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2017, 12:43:08 pm »
Good advice above.  My "rule of thumb" is it will be good if the bark, branches and pine cones are still on the tree before it is cut down.  If it still has needles, it will be very good.  If some of the bark has fell off, I expect it to be junk.
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Offline crowhill

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2017, 05:10:16 pm »
I cut a standing white pine once had brown needles and a lightning strike mark from top to bottom. Needles hadnít been brown for many weeks. There was no moisture or sap in that tree, was as solid as could be. Also had a balsam on my Dadís lawn that was struck by lightning turning it into millions of toothpick sized pieces but the needles stayed green.
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Offline Peter Drouin

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2017, 06:04:31 pm »
Imo, Dead trees are junk. Mills don't buy them for a reason. I don't buy them.
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Offline drobertson

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2017, 06:27:10 pm »
What many folks don't know about SYP, meaning "southern" is many times the pitch in these petrify, when sawn, they almost if I may use the comparison to treated telephone poles, they are solid, and stout. As to dead standing red and white oak, I've seen the same too, some crap, others, bad to the bone rich in color and strength.  And often time with character that can't be mimicked any other way,, just saying I would give it a look, it should not be rocket science to see if its solid or dote,
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2017, 07:01:25 pm »
I'll take a dead standing tree anyday... You never know until you open it up.
Each of these pictures come from trees that has been dead for a long time.
Some was still standing and some was on the ground.

Maple.

 

 

Walnut...

 

 

 

 

W.Pine

 

 

 

 

Hemlock...

 

 
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Offline Drarnold

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2017, 08:36:26 pm »
Georgia088 I picked up a longleaf pine log from a neighbor that said it had been standing dead 2 years before they had a tree service take it down.  Terrible looking on the outside.  Dry, soft, and full of worm and sawyer beetle holes.  Didn't think I would get much but once I got past the first 2 inches of sapwood and into the heart it was almost solid heart pine. The boards would make great fat lightered but just it was just as beautiful as the old growth stuff.  I reckon if the heartwood looks solid you ought to give it a shot.

Offline WDH

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2017, 08:57:47 pm »
A SYP has to be pretty old to develop heartwood.  Since the stem broke when you felled it, that indicates that it is not old enough to have had heartwood formation.  Sounds like an iffy proposition to me.  I saw lots of dead pine, and when the stem breaks upon felling, I have found that it is best to let it lay.  Once the bark starts falling off while the dead tree is still standing, the stem is already pretty far gone in our Georgia climate, hot and humid.  In other parts of the country, trees can stand dead a year or two, sometimes more, and still be sound.  It depends a lot on where you are and the climate.
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Offline Ga Mtn Man

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2017, 07:07:06 am »
WDH-  What do you mean by "stem"?
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Offline WDH

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2017, 07:45:49 am »
The "bole" of the tree.  The sawable section of the tree.
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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2017, 10:22:44 am »
A large percentage of the logs I saw are standing dead southern yellow pine. If there are dead limbs on the ground around the base, leave it be. Otherwise, the only way to tell for sure is to put a sawblade to the log. Time doesn't seem to be much of a factor, some will go punky in just a few months, others shed the bark and stand much longer, and are still solid. My opinion is it depends on how the tree died, slowly from a bug infestion or suddenly from a lightening strike..
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2017, 01:23:27 pm »
Yes, there are good and bad dead trees.  Probably 75% of my sawing is Beetle Killed SYP, and a great majority of that is framing lumber.
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Offline drobertson

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2017, 02:25:41 pm »
No doubt about it, they just have to be cut into, I mean many folks are not sawing thousands of board feet a day, day in and day out, so logs do at times get soft, and I will say each one unless just absolutely obviously just rotted out, its a potential gem. I will also say, I've sawn some dead standing, SYP that honestly, at first glance of the boards that came off, you would think I sawed treated lumber.  I've also found its always been the pine with the orange(ish) heart center, I'm no expert, I just know I messed with stuff that was a waste of time, while others made me smile.  I wish I still had my mill, bout all have to say about that.
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline starmac

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2017, 02:38:30 pm »
Am I missing something here? Is there something different about syp, that makes it where you can't tell if it is solid or not when cutting down and bucking to log length?

Our spruce will get a kind of rot, usually just in the stump in live trees. It is easy enough to tell with the saw, even the saw on the dangle head processor, you can tell by the color of the sawdust coming out, no need to even cut all the way through, so the operator just moves up a foot or two until he gets into clear wood before cutting the butt off.
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Offline coach08

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2017, 02:43:47 pm »
Georgia088    IF your werent brain dead you would know that pine is rotten....... so get it off my mill!!! :D :D

Offline WDH

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2017, 03:39:09 pm »
Age of the tree has a lot to do with it.  Young, fast grown trees do not last long.  Plantation trees do not last long.  The natural ones with tight rings will hold on much longer.  The slower the growth, the higher proportion of the dense latewood to the less dense earlywood, and the greater proportion of the latewood (the dark bands) contains more pitch which slows down the rot process. 
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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2017, 04:44:01 pm »
Latewood proportion, density, is not directly related to growth rate in softwoods


In ring porous hardwoods, slow growth is directly related to lower density. There is no clear correlation between growth rate and density in diffuse hardwoods or in softwoods.

Offline drobertson

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2017, 04:58:26 pm »
Age of the tree has a lot to do with it.  Young, fast grown trees do not last long.  Plantation trees do not last long.  The natural ones with tight rings will hold on much longer.  The slower the growth, the higher proportion of the dense latewood to the less dense earlywood, and the greater proportion of the latewood (the dark bands) contains more pitch which slows down the rot process.
Now, here is an answer, WDH, thanks, not very educated on forestry here, and its hard to say or describe, but this is exactly the way it is, I've  seen stuff growing around ponds that I just hated to saw, fast growth basically no heart, while others were slow growers, very nice, even when standing dead. I believe ring growth is what  tells the story.
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #25 on: December 07, 2017, 10:22:01 pm »
We are not talking about hardwoods here.  You are right that slow growth in ring porous hardwoods gives lower density.  However, in SYP, the latewood is denser that the early wood.  The cell walls are much thicker in the latewood.  It is all about proportions. 
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Online Don P

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Re: Sothern Yellow Pine standing dead is it rotten?
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2017, 11:45:40 am »
Exactly, look for proportion of latewood, forget rate of growth. In the pic above the highest density, that is, the highest proportion of latewood happens to be in the board with the fastest growth. Proportion of latewood is not directly tied to rate of growth in distinct ring softwoods. Other factors like genetics, age, sun, site, latitude, elevation, etc, etc, etc play a stronger role in density of that group of softwoods than rings per inch.

Durability, decay resistance, is more related to heartwood formation than latewood proportion. The heartwood and sapwood contain the same early and latewood. Sapwood containing latewood rots readily, the heartwood is more durable. That is because of the extractives that infiltrate the cells during heartwood formation. Latewood will decay slower than earlywood but much faster than heartwood. Plantations are normally harvested on short rotation that doesn't allow for much heartwood.

In the plantation we are planting trees that were selected based on diameter growth. That might not be the best selection criteria if we are looking for high proportions of latewood. Fast growing trees produce a large juvenile core. The harvest cycle is short enough that heartwood formation, if any at all, is limited to that juvenile core wood. There is nothing wrong with growing softwood timber in a plantation and very high quality timber can be grown that way, it has more to do with what we are growing and how we are growing it than with how fast the plant grows.

I've worked in shops where the guys would pull out the sticks of heart pine and start counting rings per inch as a sign of quality. They could be in excess of 40 rings/inch. No doubt it is beautiful, full of heartwood. Latewood proportion is low in something like that, the rings are quite fine. Strength is low. That tree had a hard life and it shows in the meagerness of its progress. I'm not sure how this equates to quality in a plant... but that is what we as woodworkers keep telling ourselves  :).