Our pine plantation is off and running 18 months after planting. I figured its time to share with you an update on a different kind of farming; tree farming. To appreciate this, you will need to read the blog
of January 22, 2007 and see the photos taken at that time. I think you will be amazed the difference 18 months has made when you compare the pictures.
The method we chose for our plantation was very different than normal practices. We planted about half the number of trees per acre as the Texas Forest Service and consultants recommend, did our site prep chemical release six months before planting instead of a year after and used containerized trees, not bare root seedlings. Our march to the beat of a different drummer continues.
Since January 2007, we have not had a drought and have had normal rainfall and temperatures. The trees when planted were no more than 8-10 inches tall on average. Eighteen months later they are 18 to 38 inches tall on average. Some approach four feet. The two pictures below are of a taller tree and one that is average. From a walking survey, it would appear that we have very few seedling losses. In a bare root planting, often you lose 25%. Based on the results thus far, we seem to be on the right track with this planting method.
Our objective in using these methods was to avoid having a small wood (pulpwood) cutting, which is low value in 14 years, but have a higher value chip and saw cutting at 10 to 12 years.
We have a mowed fire lane around each of the new planting areas and will continue to maintain it. Our future plan is to fertilize the seedlings by over planting with some type of legume that fixes nitrogen. We have not figured what to plant nor how to do that since we can not plow or disk the planted areas. Aerial dropped fertilizer is too expensive in today’s market. Once the trees reach a height of ten feet or more, we hope to have fenced each of the areas planted with woven wire sheep and goat fence. We will utilize goats and sheep to clear out the understory of uneconomic growth. In theory, if we open up the area under the pines, grasses will grow keeping the ground cooler and help retain moisture helping the trees to grow even faster. The understory competes for water and nutrients much more than grasses. Once the area under the trees is open, we have a lot more options on fertilization. Also, an open planted pine forest is attractive to wildlife and has more recreational uses. Terms of Reference:CHIP-n-SAW
- A cutting method used in cutting lumber from trees that measure between 6 and 14 inches diameter at breast height. The process chips off the rounded outer layer of a log before sawing the remaining cant or rectangular inside section into lumber. Chip-n-saw mills provide a market for trees larger than pulpwood and smaller than saw timber.Pulpwood
- Wood primarily for manufacture into pulp for use in making products such as paper and textiles. Typically pulpwood is too small or too low in quality to be used for lumber or plywood.Chemical Release
- The principal goal of applying herbicides in pine plantations is to enhance crop tree survival and growth rates in an economically feasible way. This goal is realized by suppressing or, less frequently, eliminating competing vegetation, hence increasing water, sunlight, and nutrient availability to crop trees. Reducing competition for site resources is especially critical for young pine seedlings. Therefore, herbicide applications are usually most effective early in the rotation, before tree planting or during the first two years after planting, when seedlings are becoming established. Effective site preparation and herbaceous weed control reduce pine mortality and provide for early and long-lasting tree growth increases. Good site preparation reduces the need for herbaceous weed control.Understory
- The understory consists of hardwood trees, saplings, small ground plants, and vines that emerged after the land was prepared for the pine plantation.
Average tree height after 18 months
Some trees are over 4 ft high after 18 months
Tree seedling ready to be planted January 2007