FORESTRY Extension Work Aids Farmers to Earn Profits from Woodlands
Through a broad program of education and practical assistance, farm-woodland owners have been aided in solving their numerous forestry problems, which range from reclaiming eroded land and thinning young stands of trees, to cooperative marketing of timber, fur, and other products.
Farmers own approximately 150,000,000 acres of woodland and produce enormous quantities of timber products for commercial and home needs. Because of lack of information regarding forestry practices applicable to farm forests, thousands of acres of valuable timberlands have been cut without regard to conserving the stand or to growing another crop of trees, or wildlife. In some sections stripping the land and degrading the stand by removal of the better trees have left cut-over lands of little value and without prospect of another timber crop for many years.
To assist farmers in meeting this situation, the State extension services, with the cooperation of the Federal Extension Service and Forest Service, are carrying projects in farm forestry. The Federal Extension Service cooperates with the States in the employment of extension foresters, who serve as project leaders. During the past year 33 States and 2 territories employing a total of 39 extension foresters carried on forestry programs with farm owners through county agent organizations. Demonstrations in the woods (fig. 36), meetings, and many other educational means have been used to assist farmers in their adoption of improved timber practices and to encourage them to handle their woodlands on an economic basis that will fit in with good farm management and wildlife conservation. Invaluable cooperation has been given by State forestry departments, experiment stations, and other public agencies and by private agencies.
The farm woods have been an important factor in helping farmers to meet their timber needs and to supplement the farm income. During the present emergency farmers have used their woods as a staff to lean on when other crops have failed to produce an adequate cash return. Although timber markets have been at a low ebb, much has been accomplished in assisting farmers with the marketing of farm-timber products. Marketing problems have been studied by extension foresters. Lists of buyers and marketing reports have been issued, marketing activities have been organized, and literature on marketing methods has been distributed. Assistance has been given in the cooperative marketing of pulpwood as developed with groups of farmers in Virginia and North Carolina. The cooperative marketing of Christmas trees in New Hampshire has been a profitable venture for farmers. Encouraging of industries and schools to use wood as fuel has led to increased sales by farmers. Forward steps have been taken in Connecticut through a study of markets and the establishment of standard grades for firewood.
The production and sale of maple sugar and sirup products has been an important line of work in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Ohio, and other producing States. The adoption of standard grades of maple products and the use of proper labels have been urged by extension workers, and have been accepted by many producers.
Improvement of farm woods through thinning, weeding, and pruning has been a project in 22 States. The economic aspects of this work have been emphasized. Assistance in woodland management has been given on approximately 9,000 farms, involving more than 898,000 acres of woodland. Many of the operations on these lands now serve as demonstrations in the community. The construction and repair of buildings with timber cut from farm woods have been reported by 1,042 farmers. Other work of similar type, such as saw filing and lmgrovement of small sawmills, has been progressing in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
The farm woods have been an aid in the conduct of relief activities such as supplying work and fuel. In one State a firewood relief project was organized. Approximately 25 towns followed plans for using farm woods to furnish labor and fuel for men on relief rolls.
The program, which was started as an extension project, has been taken over by the State relief agency. In other regions assistance has been given in barter deals in which farmers traded corn for fence posts. In some sections firewood has been used as¢ a medium of exchange.
Forest-tree planting is the most widely accepted project in farm forestry and has been carried on to some extent in all of the 33 States and 2 Territories having extension foresters. During the past year approximately 22 million trees were distributed to farmers by the State forestry agencies. A large percentage of these trees were planted through the assistance of extension foresters and county agents. Planting demonstrations, general meetings, extension schools, circular letters, and bulletins have been used to spread information on forest-tree planting and to give a clearer understanding of its problems.
The States of Pennsylvania and New York continue to lead all others in the number of trees planted on farms with approximately 4,500,000 trees being distributed in each State. In the Midwestern and Plains States the protection of farmsteads and crops from severe winds, dust storms, and “blow-outs’” in fields, is an important problem. Interest has been maintained in these sections, but fewer trees have been planted because of reduced farm incomes. Nebraska has continued fo lead other States in its territory with 3,231 farmers making windbreak plantings. The establishment of windbreaks for the protection of livestock and to provide cover for desirable wildlife is a new feature of the Nebraska program. Another type of work which has attracted interest is the establishment of windbreaks in California to protect citrus crops. Windbreaks as a factor in economical production are gaining in favor in that State. Puerto Rico stands out prominently with a record of 2,083,844 trees distributed to farmers for wood production, coffee tree shade, and establishment of windbreaks for grapefruit orchards. Other kinds of plantings that are gaining considerable headway are: Slash pine for turpentine and pulpwood production, now under way in Georgia; black locusts on gullied farm lands, now being planted quite extensively in Tennessee and several other States. The stock used by farmers for forest planting was for the most part supplied by State forestry departments. Rapid advancement in this work can be expected as the result of the emergency conservation program in erosion control which is now in progress in a number of the central Mississippi Basin States.
Interest in 4-H forestry has been maintained on a satisfactory level. During the year a total of 15,489 club members, or 11,553 boys and 3,936 girls, took part in such work as tree identification, woodland judging, tree planting, timber estimating, and woodland improvement.
Junior forestry camps for 4-H club members and leaders have been held in several States. Also short courses for 4-H members and others interested in forestry have been used to stimulate practical pursuits and leadership.