Tree Farming

Found an interesting article on Mother Earth’s website. Apparently there are species of hybrid poplar that can produce up to 15 dry tons of wood per acre, every year!

Obviously there’s plenty of waste wood around right now. But it’s amazing to think that in a self sufficient situation, an acre planted for the truck will get you 10,000 miles down the road every year.

Tree farming is very common in Europe, where they need maximum wood produced in a given space. Is anyone familiar with the usual yields per hectare / acre?

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Chris, I actually grew these hybrid Poplars in the mid 80’s which I bought from Fry Nursery. When they came in the mail I opened the box and found a bunch of dry sticks about 4 to 5 inches long and I thought to myself “these will never grow”. Nevertheless I followed the instructions which included soaking the sticks for 3 days before planting them and lo and behold after a couple of weeks leaves began to sprout from these sticks and within three years they were over 10 feet tall. They had to come down after 6 years of growth because I was developing that land for a subdivision. Sadly the excavators got to them before I did but I remember that they were about 4 to 5 inches at the stump in 6 yrs. - perfect for chunking.

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I have ten acres of land mostly swampy that has at least 25% poplar on it. I’ve copiced a dozen of them and they are growing back. The hybrid poplar is supposed to be hungry for nutrients; probably not the first cut but after that. A well groomed diverse woodlot might produce less in the short-term but will probably be more stable. Just my musings…
David Baillie

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I grew some of these from Fry Nursery also. I got a bundle of 100 sticks. I never harvested any and some are still growing, some have died off and fallen over. I think the plan was a 4 or 5 year rotation. Cut the 4-5" stuff off the stump and let it regenerate, cut plots 2. 3. 4,5, then back to plot 1 which should be grown out to a 4-5" diam from the regenerated stump. The trees in pic are 32 yrs old… about.
Pepe

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http://hybridpoplars.com/Heat.htm

SIte is dedicated to hybrid poplars. This section is for heating but you could use the wood for driving.

SWRC (Short Rotation Woody Crops) research in Canada is looking at poplars and Willow. Look up Derek Sidders’ work with the titles Concentrated SRWC Willow and Hybrid Poplar in Ontario and Western Canada for a 59 page pdf of a power point presentation

Another pdf is titled "The Canadian Wood Fibre’s Centres Short Rotation Woody Crop Program, 26 pages of information.

University of Guelph in Ontario is taking part in the research and has a hybrid developed for the Canadian Climate.

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are those hybrid poplar any harder than a regular poplar tree . I have a lot of them but we call it gofer wood add some to the stove and go fur another I only burn it if its in the way or happens to be a casulity of a tree takein it down. maybe it will run good in the truck

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Has any one tried burning hedge or its cousin mulberry in your truck. I’m two years into a hedge growing project. Hedge is the hottest fire wood and It regrows fast if you trim it.

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Dean, Hedge (Osage Orange) is great fuel … You need carbide to cut it if it isn’t green … I ran a bunch in southern Kansas and brought some home to play with … It doesn’t grow here in SW Wisconsin … There is Ironwood in the river valley but I haven’t had any of that to play with yet … Mulberry is a way softer wood … I have some young ones here now but I like eating the berries and so do the critters and birds … I can eat them if need be … Regards, Mike LaRosa

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Pepe, we have a similar “poplar” here that has a self rotation of 5 to 10 years … They spread by sucker roots and grow to 6 or 8 inch diameter or so. We have burned a lot of it but when I have stored it for wood fuel for the trucks and cars, the carpenter ants always seem to find the sacks and nest and eat in them … I dumped near a half sack of the ants with the poplar on one of my trips … I didn’t notice any change in power … Mike L

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Hello Dean .

I think in most cases the best wood is going to be whatever grows nearby and whatever you have plenty of.

When I am driving around home I usually burn pine. It is light and bulky but I have plenty of it. While driving around locally I hardly ever have to fill up other than home .

When out on trips I may fill the hopper and carry hard wood . It requires less sacks of wood and goes much further per fill . ( a few times with the dakota and oak a 100 miles )

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Wayne I couldn’t agree more about the best wood being what is native. We have a wood lot here at the farm. It is managed by a forester. After one of his cuts I asked if we should get walnut as it should grow in this area but isn’t here. His response was no the trees that are established there will come back from seeds already there and will do much better because the years of natural selection have gotten the best trees for the land there already.
If you want an orchard go ahead and make one was his advice but for timber just let the native trees do their thing.
So I agree use what is local and it will replenish itself as long as you don’t over harvest.

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I’m trained as an arborist, and my observations lead me to agree with the advice that fellow gave you, centuries of natural selection will have developed the best stock for a particular site, and we’d be pretty conceited to think we know better.

But… I’m observing what looks like accelerating climate change, so it’s becoming a forecasting game what kinds of tree species will be best suited to an area over a tree’s lifetime. This is actually a serious consideration for commercial forestry. In the case of lodgepole pine in the Canadian Rockies the range of the tree is expected to be entirely displaced northwards over the next 80 years. Under such pressure effort is being put into extra winter hardy seedlings to bridge the gap.

Black walnut is now growing well in southern Manitoba, far beyond it’s historical range. I suspect that over time walnut may be a preferred species, and unless given the help won’t be established in time as the native species fail in warmer conditions or due to incoming insect pests and diseases.

Regards,

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I have lots of high quality hard wood to run my car but if l wuldnt l wuld most likely go and plant hazel.
It takes a few years for the mother stupm to root well but then you have a constant suply of up to 2" and up to 12 feet long poles that are ideal gasifier fuel And easy to chunk. It produces great reactive charcoal (the finest black powder was made from it). And a obvious bonus is hazelnuts :smile:
I “shaved” one stump last week and it produced enough chunks for me to drive for about 400 km

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Garry I was sort of thinking the same thing with the black walnut. They are supposed to be very hardy and I really like the wood. But I did learn one interesting thing about walnut it actually puts something into the soil that inhibits the growth of other plants. I can’t remember what it is. Elderberries do the same thing. Simply to say that plants are tricky and there are alot of interactions we might not be aware of. Around here we are also seeing changes in the climate. What worries me is that the climate seems less stable here. From the 90s to about the last 4 years we had mild winters which would put us squarely in zone 5. Then recently we have had old fashioned winters with alot of snow and low temps of -25 F to - 35 F. So much for those zone 5 fruit trees I wanted to plant they won’t take that type of winter. That is what worries me more with the times we live in. I think diversity is the best defense.

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Yes Dan, walnuts produce growth inhibitors in the leaves, and possibly the roots, they are allelochemical. From what I observe the effect is similar to what spruce trees exhibit, just in the drip zone of the tree. It will have an effect on understory plants mostly, which could still be a significant environmental impact.

I am observing the same kind of climate instability. Every plant variety has a fixed minimum temperature it can withstand. Many others seem to only withstand certain maximum temperatures, or need a specific dormant period. Climate zones are defined largely by the winter low temperatures, which are gradually rising, here we have changed 2 climate zones over 30 years. But this winter is more severe, which will further complicate things for native and introduced species.

There’s also the shifts in summer weather, too much or too little rain at the wrong time has to put stress on otherwise well adapted forest communities. For the last 25 years I’ve been observing a fungal bracket attacking the green ash, previously unknown. However, the emerald ash borer will soon wipe them out anyways, once it arrives.

I fear there could hardly be a worse scenario for forests globally, recent studies have shown that every forest zone in North America is under stress and most are losing carbon instead of taking it in. Faced with all that, I think relocating species might be beneficial for the environment and for preservation of the species themselves, but it’s a bad scenario.

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Garry thinking about the comment you dropped 2 zones in the last 30 years. Was that zone 2 to zone 4. I only know the American zone system so if you use something else I wouldn’t have a clue but that is is a crazy change. Here we are right on the edge of 4 and 5. It is typically a little too cold here for zone 5 plants but if you pick the right micro climate they get by most of the time.
As to ash yes they are under attack here just about 80 miles south of me the borers had gotten in hard about 5 years ago I an sure they will be up here soon. I lived down in that area at the time and it was really sad cutting the dead or dying ash out of the woods for fire wood. I was right on the power lines and I think the trimming crew bright them up further not that I think it was intentional just that they didn’t plan their route right if the had gone north to south instead of south to north I think it would have helped alot. I say that because they trimmed about a year or 2 before I started having trouble and my friends away from the lines where not having trouble. But I think that sadly is just a mater of time.

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We use the same climate zone system. Here we went from 2b to roughly 4. I have heard that part of south central Manitoba went from 3 to rivaling 5. Environment Canada recently reassessed climate zones based on the last 30 years weather data. It’s nice to see grapes and certain fruit trees doing well. It seems that as you go further west or north climate change is more pronounced, the Arctic is really warming.

I got to witness the loss of our American elm forests, the Dutch elm beetle wiped them out starting around 1992. It’s shocking to see a 70 foot tall forest canopy that a squirrel could run across reduced to nothing over a few years. No one will see that again for centuries. And now the ash trees, over corporate negligence so they could ship Chinese goods on infested wooden pallets. And they have have brought other tree pests the same way. I estimate that as hundreds of billions in damage, the ongoing costs in lost ecological services and habitat, fuel and timber incalculable.

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Wow that puts you not too much different then me now. The elm are starting to make a come back here. I think mostly it is slippery bark elm. I don’t know my elm very well Dutch elm disease killed them off before my time. I have some that come in right next to my building and while I don’t care for elm as wood too stringy and hard to work up i hate cutting them even though they are right up close to the foundation because I know the species is all but existent around here. I just hope the ones around my building are a sign of them comming back in the woods too.
My black cherry trees tend to be short lived trees I can’t figure that out they get about 6 to 10 inches in diameter and then seem to die off. They are fighters though there is always another one there to take its place. Usually they get those bungs I think it is called the big bark knots where they are trying to heal but I don’t know from what. The tend to be on the edge of my fields so I am guessing it is wind dammage.

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The elm will straggle on after the Dutch elm disease destroys the mature trees. The bark has to be a certain thickness before the beetles can attack them. There will be the odd mutant tree that has natural immunity, and in fact there are commercially available resistant nursery stock, might be a help to introduce that into the local gene pool. If you ever find a naturally resistant tree, a nursery or natural resources or university should be notified. Also elm can be propagated vegetatively from soft cuttings.

It seems the elm beetle was introduced into Europe in Roman times, probably by trade caravans from Asia. Pollen records showed the same wipe out, then a thousand years or more without significant elm while resistant types developed.

Research shows that reducing a habitat by 90% will reduce species diversity by 50%. I fear the devastation of tree species is leading to the loss of specialized insects, soil fungi, various knock on effects.

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When I was a boy I remember the blue clouds of SO2 rolling a long at ground level.
We did not have a lot of nice trees, some people did not have grass depending on where you lived…
Not long after the acid plants went up and the soil remediation programs we started to see some startling changes.
As a scout I even planted trees a long the road ways in the 70s that today are very large and impressive pines.

But I have some observations.
When you plant one of the same kind of tree in a damage eco system you get all kinds of disease and insect out breaks because the " system " is not diverse and even the soil is weak.
You need all different kinds of trees, plants and grasses living together.
Almost 50 years on since the project began and we are now trying to transplant clumps of forest floor into the area to bring different kids of mosses and grass in.
Nature is recovering and birds and small animals are dispersing seeds of hard woods and other plants
In my lifetime I may even see this start to look as it should again.
But it will always be disturbed earth…

I understand that there are folks who make a fine living in Scandinavia by working plots of land and only selectively cutting and managing the forest rather than trying to farm it.
They cut every year and the forest regenerates in a much healthier way with less disturbance.

The world is changing fast.
The sickly apple and plum trees my Dad tried to grow in the old days are nothing compared to the apples and grapes I can grow in Northern Ontario now.
But that is also a sign.
I see animals and plants I never knew before and some do not belong here at all…

It is more important than ever we manage our forests and wild spaces to be strong diverse and healthy so they can adapt.
It is still farming but it is not mono culture.
We need to avoid putting too many eggs in one basket.

There are a few of those big pines planted growing in the wild but they were devastated by spruce bud worm, and fire.
The healthiest of them have " friends " growing next to them, birch, oak choke cherry and such.
It looks nice too.

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