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>>GRANT: While touring properties, one of the most common issues we see is mismanagement of the timber stands.

>>GRANT: This trend is obvious in both hardwood and pine stands.

>>GRANT: Implementing sound timber management should be a goal for every landowner from a habitat and income point of view.

>>GRANT: This could be an extremely productive area.

>>GRANT: It’s easy to recognize when timber stands have been high-graded.

>>GRANT: In hardwoods, you often see bigger stumps than the standing trees or the standing trees are crooked or undesirable species or have multiple stems.

>>GRANT: Multi-stem trees are a sign of stump sprouts that resulted from sprouts coming from where the tree had been harvested previously.

>>GRANT: A tell-tale sign is when you walk into a timber stand and there’s a bunch of sweetgums, and winged elm, and maybe hickories in the south, and no white oaks. That’s a pretty good indication that some time in the past someone harvested the best and left the rest.

>>GRANT: In southern states, much of the timber that’s being actively managed is pine trees. And there’s almost always a forester involved because pines are planted as a cash crop tree. They’re planted to be harvested at some date during the future. Even with that said, sometimes we find stands of mismanaged pines.

>>GRANT: Currently, the prices for pine timber is very low, and many stands aren’t being harvested when they should. This is resulting in the crowns rubbing each other; a lot of competition. There’s competition for sunshine, nutrients, and water. And when there’s too much competition, that causes stress on the trees like it would any organism. And if there’s too much stress, of course they’ll get weak or allow disease to come in and greatly depreciate the value of that stand.

>>GRANT: You know, sometimes we’re working a property where they harvested pines in the past, but they didn’t replant pines or make a food plot or anything. And I don’t like that because this is what happens. You get this thicket of volunteer pine that’s too thick to ever grow up and make a valuable tree. And of course in the south there’d be a bunch of sweetgum too – those seeds are everywhere – and there’s no food or valuable cover, because of course, when we get down low, it’s wide open.

>>GRANT: So, if you harvest pines, don’t think you’re doing a good conservation move by just letting it “go wild.” It will grow up to an unusable state for man and for wildlife. Make sure you have a strategy to follow up so the land remains productive versus becoming this.

>>GRANT: Folks that own stands of timber need to have a good plan, and that plan works basically on a continuum.

>>GRANT: One side of that plan would be maximum timber production. And we want to make as much money off of the timber as we can. And that could be short term or short rotation or long term.

>>GRANT: Maybe you’re growing pine trees with the goal of harvesting 40, 50, 60 years from now and selling really high-end product of telephone poles. But the other end of that continuum is a maximum wildlife habitat value. Either end is pretty extreme, and there’s a lot of room in the middle where both income and wildlife habitat can work hand in hand.

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>>GRANT: Even if the landowner has a timber management plan for each individual stand of timber on their property, they need to realize that the wildlife portion of that can change throughout the growth of that stand.

>>GRANT: Let’s take an example. Let’s say you’ve recently harvested some timber and you’ve just site-prepped and replanted. And there’s nothing out there but pine trees about six inches tall right now. They just got planted within the last month or so, and it’s pretty much a biological desert. But as time goes on, grasses and forbs will grow up between those pine seedlings and provide high-quality wildlife habitat for a number of species.

>>GRANT: Then in a few years, well those seedlings have grown up and they’re now six, eight feet tall, and the limbs are almost touching, and it’s shaded out all those grasses and forbs, and we’re kinda back to that biological desert situation.

>>GRANT: If your management plan is on the side of the continuum towards wildlife habitat, you might consider planting those seedlings at a wider spacing. Currently, the industry tends to plant seedlings at about 7-1/2 feet by 7-1/2 feet. But imagine if you planted those at a 10 feet by 10 feet square, there’s more years before those limbs touch each other, which means more years of grasses and forbs and high-quality wildlife habitat.

>>GRANT: Making that choice obviously means a few less trees per acre and will reduce the income a bit – at least right off the bat during that first thinning. But then you might not remove quite as many trees, and you make up that income with a larger tree or a higher value product on the second thinning.

>>GRANT: This same principle applies when pine trees are thinned as they’re maturing.

>>GRANT: If you don’t take many trees out, it’s fewer years before the canopies touch each other, and that means two things: there’s no sunshine getting to the forest floor and limited growth down there that benefits most wildlife species. And those trees are crowding each other sooner, which means, again, they’re growing under stress and are not as productive.

>>GRANT: On our continuum again, if you’re leaning more towards the wildlife side; you know you’re probably 50 to 75 percent over there, I suggest a thinning down to about 60 basal feet per acre.

>>GRANT: Now 60 basal feet per acre is kind of a technical forestry term, but just imagine, if you could, the great, big arms come out and squished all the trees together on an acre and there were 60 square feet, or if there were 60 trees per acre and they each averaged about a foot at the base, that would be 60 basal feet per acre.

>>GRANT: So, obviously the bigger the trees are – like a two-foot tree – then it would only be 30 trees per acre. But those 2-foot trees have a lot bigger crown, so you’re still allowing about the same amount of sunshine to reach the forest floor.

>>GRANT: Thinning patterns change as the stand matures.

>>GRANT: You know, if you’ve got a whole bunch of trees you planted at 7-1/2 feet by 7-1/2 feet and they’re all six, eight inches, that’s a different thinning pattern than you’re thinning at 30 years of age and you’ve got some 18-inch trees out there.

>>GRANT: But the goal is gonna be the same. How much sunshine are you putting down to the forest floor? Because if we don’t get sun or photosynthesis within that first couple of feet, we’re not providing high-quality food for deer/turkey, nesting/bedding habitat – all the things that define a high-quality wildlife habitat.

>>GRANT: So, as a really good rule of thumb, the more space between the trees when they’re planted or thinned, the longer that stand will be in a condition to provide really high-quality wildlife habitat.

>>GRANT: And I want to say that pines could be managed to make a good income stream and great wildlife habitat throughout the life of the stand.

>>GRANT: Good timber management plans is a great way to release your property’s potential to provide high-quality habitat and hunting.

>>GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about our habitat management strategies, check out our channel and social media.

>>GRANT: Getting outside and learning more about habitat and what works and what doesn’t is a great way to enjoy Creation. But it’s more important to take time every day, be quiet, and understand the Creator’s will for your life.

>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.