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Site Preparation: 1st Step to Regeneration

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Friday, November 1, 2019 - 7:00am

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about site preparation, the first step to regeneration. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. John Kushla, Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Specialist. John, what exactly do we mean by site preparation in forest stands?

John Kushla: So after harvesting your timber, it's necessary to get the land ready to regenerate the next forest. This involves removing unwanted vegetation from the site through the use of herbicides, tillage, and or prescribed burning. Site preparation is a necessary step to all forest regeneration.

Amy Myers: And what is involved in site preparation?

John Kushla: After a typical timber harvest, there may be a lot of debris and unwanted vegetation on the site. How much site preparation is done depends on the method of regeneration, whether it's by natural regeneration or seed fall or artificial regeneration, which is tree planting.

Amy Myers: So what exactly is natural regeneration?

John Kushla: With natural regeneration, we retain seed trees for the next forest. Site preparation for naturally regenerating pines often includes spraying herbicides to control hardwood brush and doing prescribed burning. The herbicides are often sprayed to kill the brush and sprouts because pine seeds require full sunlight. A prescribed burn may also be used to reduce fuels and expose bare soil for seeds to germinate. Site preparation and hardwoods may use herbicides or prescribed fire to encourage desirable species, particularly if you have to eliminate invasive plant species such as Chinese privet or kudzu.

Amy Myers: What is artificial regeneration?

John Kushla: Artificial regeneration involves establishing the next forest by planting seedlings. Most artificial regeneration in Mississippi is with pines. With pine tree planting the amount of site preparation is determined by the method for tree planting, whether by hand or machine.

Amy Myers: And how does site preparation vary between tree planting techniques?

John Kushla: Well, machine planting usually requires a very clean site for the tractor to be able to pull the planter. Machine planting cut-over forests is usually done on industrial property because it's much more expensive as heavy equipment is used to clear debris and provide tillage. On recently retired farmland, site preparation requires spraying herbicides to kill established grasses or brush. Site preparation is usually less involved with hand planting because hand planters are more maneuverable than machines. They can step over small debris. So the site is usually just treated with herbicides to kill unwanted vegetation and large debris is reduced either through drum chopping or a site prep burn.

Amy Myers: What is involved in a site preparation burn?

John Kushla: Burning for site preparation is usually done in the summer to obtain a hot burn to reduce large debris. Prescribed burning requires a notarized plan by a certified burn manager. So we want to get a burning permit from the Mississippi Forestry Commission on the day of the burn and having a certified burn manager on site when setting the fire. You should contact your MSC Service Forester about doing a site prep burn.

Amy Myers: So is there anything else that land owners should consider?

John Kushla: Regeneration should be carefully planned. A Forrester should develop a written management plan, which is necessary to claim the Mississippi reforestation tax credit. Also consider regeneration weevils in pine stands, which can be a problem on recently cut over sites. If the stand had been cut in summer or fall, it should lay out another year or you should buy seedlings that were treated with insecticides when planting that following winter.

Amy Myers: So give me a summary of what we've talked about today.

John Kushla: Regenerating harvested timber keeps your land productive. Site preparation gets the land ready for the next forest, and you should have a regeneration plan and follow it.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much. Today we've been speaking with Dr John Kushla, Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Specialist. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Forestry

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