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Timber Stand Management – Part 6


Site Prep and re-planting


The harvest is complete and now begins the process of preparing the land for its next phase. For our discussions we are focusing on the replanting of pines for future harvest. Whitetail deer hunters can benefit immensely from replanted forest. This second generation growth will allow for early browse, good cover for fawning and bedding, and provide excellent growth of small soft plants for the young deer to feed. This also benefits wild turkey populations and other ground nesting birds. The thick brambles that will grow in the openings created will allow for safer nests for turkeys, quail and other nesting birds. Harvesting of mature trees is beneficial to everyone in the process.

There are basically two approaches to replanting. One is the use of heavy machinery. Bull dozers will come in and completely remove everything pushing them up into long windrows. With blades and root rakes they will remove all stumps, and roots piling them into windrows that are left to either rot or can be burned later. After the removal of all stumps and roots, the landowner will have to wait for all dormant seeds to germinate. This provides the wildlife with great browse during this time. Once there is sufficient germination and sprouting, large sprayers are brought in to spray and kill all of these germinating plants. Once everything has fully died off, planters are brought in and trees are planted mechanically.

While this process provides for clean and evenly spaced trees, it’s very expensive and has the potential to increase erosion and damage to the land.

The other process (Which I highly recommend) is to stay away from the use of heavy equipment during this process. This process involves completely allowing the growth of native plants to emerge among the debris left from the harvest. This can take several months, but once there is sufficient growth of weeds, and other plants, and they seem well established bring in the sprayers and spray liberally to kill them all off. Once the kill is complete, you can either burn the dead debris or simply plant among them. I personally have not seen a benefit of one over the other. I prefer to not burn because of the topography where my land sits would allow for a lot of erosion. Consult your land manager for more guidance on your particular property.

Once determined the course of action, hand planting of the pines allows for a more natural forest. Bear in mind that there will still be weeds, and still be some undesirable plants emerge, but the process is as complete as can be controlled. The dreaded sweet gum, fennel and blackberries will establish and grow faster than the seedling pines but this will provide excellent cover for small game and birds until the pines are established. Once established the pines will out compete the other plants and shade them out completely.

Hand planting is very efficient and cost effective; at roughly half the cost of machine planting it’s far more beneficial to the landowner.