This time of year when one has bills, the ground is frozen, and some unscrupulous timber buyer appears flashing the cash at your door hoping to pickup cheap timber from your woods. If you have any interest in timber management at all, you will want to participate in the upcoming Forestry Short Course at the Purdue Extension-Parke County office which consists of eight Tuesday evening programs. For those that can't make the program, let's look at some timber value basics.
There are many small and large wooded areas around the landscape in Clay and Owen counties. These wooded areas serve several purposes including but not limited to scenic beauty, economic value, wildlife habitat, raw materials for wood products, and tourism. Both counties are blessed with potential for high quality timber with high market values, though the greater abundance of timber would be in Owen County.
Timber stand improvement (TSI) is a topic where there are fundamentals that everyone agrees upon and other areas where one might get five different opinions from five different experts! Let's look at the fundamentals.
One of the most basic and important issues is to control vines that wrap around trees. Wild grape vines are a major issue hanging from the tree canopy. These vines compete for light when fully leafed during the growing season. Left uncontrolled, the vines become many inches in diameter adding weight to the tree canopy which often results in multiplying tree crown injury during wet periods, ice storms, windstorms, etc.
When tree canopies are compromised and trees fall, more light is allowed onto the forest floor which further enables the growth of vines. Once a sound canopy is established, the shading by the trees helps to inhibit the vine growth. A good technique is to cut each vine twice. Once at head level such that it is easy to identify the vine has been cut and secondly at ground level.
One item of debate is whether or not to spray herbicide onto the vine stumps. Tordon is an example of a herbicide that works to reduce vine re-growth from the stump. However one must be careful as some roots intertwine and the tulip tree, for example, can be damaged from Tordon that translocates from stumps of grape vines. Keeping vines cut will accelerate the tree growth.
Most know that a tree grows from the outer perimeter or the cambium. Many though do not understand the exponential rate of tree growth. Don't rush to sell timber for quick money or you are likely shooting yourself in the pocketbook. There are some exceptions, but the following are some "rules of thumb" from Jeremiah Lemmons, DNR District Forester who serves Clay County. A 24-inch diameter tree is typically considered mature as after that point growth rates are reduced and you would be better off with money invested elsewhere. Poplar trees tend to be larger and cherry would be smaller, for example. Good growth is considered at 200 board feet per acre per year. Another way to look at this individually is that tree diameter would increase roughly one-half inch per year. One problem in our area is that people get to hasty to get money and harvest trees too early. Here is an example: A 12-inch tree produces one log and produces 20 board feet. At an exceptional price of 50 cents per board foot the tree is still only a $10 tree. Let's leave the tree until 18-inch diameter with a single log, our tree produces 80 board feet and using the same price for easy figuring it is a $40 tree. Wait another 10 years and harvest when mature at 24-inches and our tree will produce more than one log with the first log being 180 board feet and producing $90 from just the first log of the tree. Trees typically double in board feet every 10 to 15 years. From this example, quick money is not always cheap money to pay bills! Ideally a forest is harvested every 10-15 years unless a storm event causes numerous downed or partially downed trees that necessitate a clean-up harvest.
A clean-up harvest should also include a TSI harvest. The more difficult decisions in the woods come when two trees are growing very close together and a cull decision for (Timber Stand Improvement) needs to be made. If one is a walnut and the other a cherry, which will be most valuable 10-15 years from now? Which is at the greatest risk of being lost?
Lots of questions come about, often without easy answers. This is where a professional private forester or DNR District Foresters Jeremiah Lemmons (Clay Co. 812-665-2130) or Ralph Unversaw (Owen Co. 812-829-2462) will be beneficial to you.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information, or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. Please call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While most publications are free, some do have a fee. All times listed are Eastern Time.
Jan. 8 Region 5 Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc. Program, Greencastle, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 9-12 National No-till Conference, Cincinnati, OH
Jan. 15 Starting Bee Keeping, Session 1 of 4, Spencer, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 First of 6 weekly Marketing Commodities for Farm Women, Brazil, 7 p.m.
Jan. 21 Extension Office Closed-Martin Luther King Holiday
Jan. 22 Forestry Short Course (8 Tuesday's), Rockville, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 Central Indiana Pork Conference, Frankfort, 9 a.m.
Jan. 25-26 Farming Together Workshop, Purdue
Jan. 28 Clay County Extension Advisory Council Annual Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 Crop Management Workshop, Purdue, 8:30 a.m.
Jan 28-30 Indiana Hort Congress, Indianapolis
Jan. 30 Crop Management Workshop, Danville, 8:30 a.m.
Feb. 2 Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry, Indianapolis
Feb. 9 Bi-state Livestock Conference, North Vermillion High School
Feb. 13-16 National Farm Machinery Show, Louisville, KY
Feb. 20-21 Women in Ag Conference, Columbus, IN
Feb. 26 Starting Bee Keeping, Session 2 of 4, Spencer, 6:30 PM