Have you ever shared something with a sibling and it turned out good??
On one of my first site visits I went out to a property that two brothers shared and it was quite the talk. The front half ones one brothers (We will call him Ned) and the back half was the others (we will call him Fred). So Ned and Fred! Ned’s half was this gorgeous red pine plantation mostly. Perfect placement of trees for optimum growth, tall, no major die back or disease. Then we walked back to Fred’s part…Uffda! He also had a red pine plantation but the rows were all funny, there was too much competition due to poor planting and not enough pre-commercial thinning and he had all these straggly choke cherry trees taking over large parts of the canopy cover. Then it tapered off into a maple oak stand where there was little to no regeneration and all the trees were past their prime. Now here in Clare county pretty much all the soil is SAND (Yuck!) so when you get a tree as large as an oak can get growing there it begins to uproot itself because the soil cannot support the root system. I explained to them that they need to open up this stand to allow for sunlight to promote regeneration and this is their response. “Can we bring in hogs to rut up the land”? I looked at the landowners–pondered a minute to try and grasp what exactly he was asking. Hogs?! You wanna bring in hogs?! Well yes, they will rut up the land and open up the soil. But I advised them that this was not a good idea. They had already expressed that they wanted regeneration of the oaks for deer management…well folks hogs will take away that regeneration. Let me tell you why. Hogs are kind of lets say destructive, they will rut up the soil and eat the organic materials, eat up the little acorn seeds in their area then when they are moved they will eat and rut up all that. And if they destroy too much and take away too much seed source and your oaks are already not producing enough seed, there is no room for regeneration. The forest will eventually decline and be left with nothing.
In hardwood stands the best thing to do where there is a lack of regeneration is to open up the canopy to allow for ample sun and water for regrowth. To do this a crop tree is chosen. A crop tree is one that is relatively straight and still productive and can be promoted to keep growing. Then around the crop tree you take out any other competitors, take out those competing above (canopy space) and below to open up the ground. Then you move on to another crop tree and do the same. Eventually you have marked your crop trees and cleared all around them and regeneration can happen. Now this might scare a lot of folks but its the best management for hardwoods, it might look bare at first but after a few years, that regrowth will begin and you can have the pride of being a good steward and forest owner. Who knows maybe those crop trees will grow to be veneer logs!
Although the brothers had two very different plans for their “parcels” of the property- the fact they were trying to be proactive in their management is the key here. Not just being reactive, when things get bad!
Learning experience from this site visit- no to hogs!!!
Not from this site visit–but still beautiful Red Pine