WOOD Lots in Northeast Pay Well for Care

Most of the wood lots in the Northeast are in the condition of an untended garden; and yet growing timber needs to be kept "weeded” quite as much as any other crop.  The forest products which the wood lot yields constitute one of the most important and profitable farm crops in this region.

FIG. 267.—A hardwood forest in southern New England after an improvement cutting which removed the defective, poorly formed, and mature trees. Ample space is left for the growth and development of the younger, thrifty, well-formed trees. The product of the cutting was utilized for railroad ties and charcoal

As a rule, mixed pine and hardwoods produce higher quality of material, keep the soil in better condition, and are less liable to injury from insects and disease than hardwoods alone. Where pine or mixed pine and hardwoods have been harvested, the hardwoods in the new stand are apt to suppress and kill out the slower-growing pines. The less desirable hardwoods should be cut back when the pine is 3 or 4 feet in height. If later the hardwoods again begin to overtop the pines seriously, this operation must be repeated. Not only pine should be favored in this way, but also the better hardwoods, such as ash, oak, hickory, basswood, and in some cases yellow and paper birch and sugar maple.

In older stands, where the trees appear to be crowded, the “wolf” trees, undesirable species, and all trees that are not growing well or are hindering the growth of more thrifty trees should be cut out.  Experiments in New Hampshire show that 1 cord of thinnings may be removed each year from an acre of well-stocked white pine between 30 and 50 years of age with considerable advantage in the growth and quality of the remaining trees.

The way in which mature timber is cut makes a great difference in the future of the wood lot. Where the woods are even-aged their make-up should determine the method of cutting. If hardwoods prevail, clear cutting of all merchantable trees is usually satisfactory.  Where pine enters considerably into the make-up of the stand, a partial cutting, removing 50 to 60 per cent of the crown canopy, is preferable. The remainder of the stand can be cut clean 4 to 6 years later, when the ground will ordinarily be amply stocked with seedlings.

Partial Cutting Sometimes Needed

Where the trees vary considerably in age and size, partial cutting should be the rule, taking out first the largest trees, and those poorly formed, defective, and of little local value. This gives ample room for younger, thrifty, well-formed trees to put on all the wood they can.

At all times the wood lot should be protected from fire. Even light surface fires will kill small trees, decrease the fertility of the soil, and injure the larger trees.  Also, all currant and gooseberry bushes, both cultivated and wild, should be pulled up anywhere within 900 feet of where white pine is to grow. Continued production of white pine is impossible unless these bushes, which are hosts for the white pine blister rust, are eradicated.

Where tree planting is desirable, white pine, red pine, and Norway spruce seedlings will do well under most conditions in this region.  White pine can often be planted profitably under gray birch, provided the birch is completely removed when the pine is about 4 feet high.

Wood-lot owners in the Northeast who have tried it know that protection of the wood lot from fire, insects, and disease, careful methods of cutting, intelligent thinning of young stands, and planting of waste lands, pay dividends out of all proportion to the cost of such measures.