Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

In this series about young stand thinning , I’ve worked on the assumption that people know the density of trees in their woods. I realize that in many cases, people don’t really know that, so cannot easily apply that information to deciding if they have enough room for healthy growth or if trees need to be thinned.

If you know what distance the trees were said to have been planted, you may have a fair idea of the density (a 10’ x 10’ spacing is about 440 trees per acre, a 12’ x 12’ is about 300 tpa). This is a good start, but not necessarily very accurate.   Actual planting spacing can vary quite a bit according to the conditions in the field and experience of the planters.  And of course some seedlings die during establishment, or some other trees may seed in from outside.  So it is probably a good idea to go out and get a better idea of what you’ve got.  The basic way to do this is to measure some plots. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent for Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

The wood sickness is an all-too-common condition that afflicts many in the family forest landowner community.  As described earlier, it is characterized by large accumulations of wood in a person’s yard, shed, garage or barn, excessive buildup of chain saws and other logging tools, portable mills, and all sorts of secondary wood working tools. You know it when you see it.

People with this affliction treat wood with the same passion as collectors of fine wine treat their vintages. Each likes to hide things away and store them cool dark places, often for years at a time.  Yet each is able to recite the source and a story of how they came to own each piece or bottle.  They are determined and very patient waiting for each to find its destiny.

Orson Wells made a series of wine commercials late in his career that captured that spirit when he would declare “We sell no wine before its time.” The parallel sentiment among wood hoarders might be “we use no board before it’s stored.”

An afflicted friend of mine (who will remain unnamed) is remodeling a house and recently put in a hardwood floor. He patiently converted stacks of stickered wood into milled floorboards.  Then, he gradually and laboriously laid them out one by one to create a gorgeous floor of Oregon white oak, bordered with black walnut.  As discussed before, there is no cure for the wood sickness, but it can be helped by therapy.  The therapy is difficult and sometimes painful.  His therapy reduced the amount of wood in his stockpile while producing pain in his knees and back, but was otherwise effective and productive.

There are many people like Jay who are coping and trying to come to grips with their obsession. You see them around town from time to time.  No more so than this time of year, when they commonly emerge from garages and workshops coated in therapeutic sawdust, to display and maybe sell the products of their therapy at art shops, Christmas Bazars and the Local Goods from the Woods fair.  They may be friends, family or even complete strangers, but please show them some holiday spirit.  Meet them half way.

I bet that turned fruit bowl would look terrific in your sister’s dining room.

Swedish Historical Society members outside a small Swedish church in Mist, OR

When I was on the Forest Tour to Sweden and Norway in June 2016,  I learned that the Scandinavians are serious about their history as well as their forests.

So it should really come as no surprise that a group from the Swedish Forest History Society would visit Oregon to learn about our Forest History.

Touring from Seattle to San Francisco, the group spent several days in Oregon moving down the lower Columbia to the Coast, then going through the Tillamook State Forest on the way to the Valley. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties

Earlier in this series (click here), we talked about some of the reasons people are interested in growing a diverse forest, some of the key components of diversity, and also some of the many ways to enhance your woods’ diversity.  The idea was to show that a landowner often has a very wide range of future options, but often needs to make choices and take actions to achieve their goals.  I know this may have seemed academic to some readers, so we will share some examples of how this looks in practice.

A meadow creates open areas where sun loving plants such as oak thrive and also forest edges that are attractive to certain wildlife.

A good example of managing for diversity to meet some specific wildlife and timber objectives is Cedar Spring tree farm near Airlie, owned by Dave Hibbs, Sarah Karr and their family.

Sarah is an avid birder, determined that any property they own provide benefits for wildlife as well as for her family. Dave is a retired OSU forestry professor interested in producing future high quality timber along with other benefits from their woods.  So, Dave and Sarah are typical of many families, with co-owners having some different objectives and priorities.  But they  have a willingness and ability to manage for multiple objectives that can be met by growing a diverse forest. So let’s take a look at some of the ways they do this.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension.

 

Many landowners are interested in growing a diverse forest as discussed in the previous post.  Their reasons may include having an attractive woodland retreat, providing habitat for wildlife or having a more resilient forest.  Whatever the reason, knowing what different parts of forest diversity look like is a key step towards getting it.

There are several key parts to diversity: those things that grow and live in a forest, how those things are arranged and when those things happen. Each is shaped or influenced by the physical environment (like soils or elevation) and natural processes (like competition, storms or fire).  Many kinds of diversity can also be enriched by us.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension.

We often hear from landowners that that they want a diverse, natural-looking forest. Their reasons vary.  Some folks are aware of the many ecological benefits that diversity brings to a woodland property, while others may have been inspired by the beauty of an old growth forest.

Old growth forest at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River OR

Of course, it takes centuries for an old growth forest to develop and many of our readers have young stands planted within the last decade or two that may look more like this:

Young D-fir plantation in foothills of the Coast Range

So how do you move from one situation to another?

Happily, a landowner has many ways to influence and encourage diversity in their woodlands. Even if you have just bought some recently cut-over land, it does not have to remain a simple timber plantation if you do not want it to be.  You can grow a diverse forest.  And it can be done within decades rather than centuries.  No, it will not be old growth, but it may help reach many of the diversity-related objectives landowners commonly mention, including an attractive forest setting, better habitat for a variety of animals and a resilient forest.

A network of paths leads from any starting point in a woodland’s development. Each crossing is an event or decision that leads in a different direction and towards a different woodland condition.

In this series, we will be exploring the pathways to a diverse forest in western Oregon. These ideas also apply to an oak woodland, a riparian forest as well as an upland conifer-dominated forest.  In our next post we look at what makes a forest diverse and why it matters.  In later posts we will consider turns you can take throughout the life of the forest to restore, enhance and maintain woodland diversity to match your particular objectives.

Another view of pathways, incorporating competitive zones leading to certain outcomes.

 

Jen Gorski, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension, Clackamas County

Oregon forest landowners and Christmas tree growers are having difficulty locating seedlings to buy.

In response, the Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU Extension and other partners are working hard to identify and solve the problems limiting the supply. It’s not an easy fix; many pieces account for the problems and the solutions.

OSU Clackamas County Extension hosted a meeting in January to discuss the seedling supply. Landowners revealed that certain species or stock types are not always available within a year of planting. This presents some uncertain choices and potential compromise. One year plugs may be available in lieu of 1-1 transplants (2 year old seedlings). The 1-1 transplants have a fibrous root system and a track record of success in challenging conditions. However, future survival of one year plugs is uncertain. Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Many landowners depend on professional operators to help get things done on their property.  This includes weed control. Finding the right person for the job is important. The process starts with knowing what you are looking for.

Good weed control is a boon to seedling survival
Good weed control is a boon to seedling survival

Like most forestry management practices, weed control is actually a mix of different activities. Depending on what you know and can do yourself, hiring a chemical applicator means you are actually looking to hire a mix of knowledge and skill, equipment and labor.

It is important to get this right. Otherwise you may waste money or injure your trees.  Worse still, it could mean causing damage to the environment or a neighbors’ crops, either of which would create a liability issue for you.

So how do you go about selecting the right chemical applicator for you? In conversations with some forestry professionals and landowners recently, it all boiled down to communicating about needs and expectations.  Here are some key questions and things to discuss before hiring a chemical applicator to work on your property.

Questions to ask potential providers: Continue reading

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

 

I was given Norwegian Wood this summer. No, not the Beatles’ famous 1965 single about a John Lennon romance.  The gift is a book about the Scandinavian romance with firewood.  Its full title is “Norwegian Wood: chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way” (by Lars Mytting).  I loved it.  I would probably hesitate to admit that to most people, but Tree Topics and Compass readers are not most people.  You are wood people and will understand.  dscn5054

Norwegian Wood is an embrace of all things firewood. It delves into the historic Scandinavian reliance on wood to heat hearth and home when having enough wood on hand (at far northern latitudes) was a matter of life and death.  That dependence seems to still shape the collective Scandinavian psyche.  People there respect wood.

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Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

DSCN3241Continuing on the general theme of young stand management and especially the need for thinning, I’d like to look at strategies for thinning a young stand. Let’s start with some things to keep in mind about Young Stand Thinning or YST (also called precommercial thinning or PCT):

  • The idea of young stand thinning (YST) is to avoid harmful overcrowding later by removing excess trees early on.
  • The impact of thinning out a tree is very local. The overall stocking level (trees per acre) can be misleading. It is the spacing among immediate neighbors that counts.
  • The greatest benefit of YST is increased growing space rather than selection among trees. Creating more growing space to benefit as many leave trees as possible is the primary goal. Culling is secondary.
  • YST is key to achieving longer rotations and many non-timber objectives many family forest landowners desire.

Continue reading