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Planning for Hardwood Regeneration

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January 11, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University extension service. 

Amy Myers: Today, we're talking about planning for hardwood regeneration. Hello, I'm Amy Taylor-Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today, we're speaking with Dr. Randy Rousseau, Mississippi State University extension hardwood specialist. So Randy, today, we're gonna discuss the factors that land owners should be aware of when they will harvest their hardwood stands. 

Randy Rousseau: Well, Amy, let's just say, for example, that you have a piece of property and it's primarily comprised of hardwood tress and you're wanting to harvest the stand to revise some additional income. There's really nothing wrong with that, but you need to step back and think about the entire process. The first thing that we should have is a management plan, which can be written by a consultant or even yourself. This document will be your roadmap based on your objectives for that specific piece of property. This allows you to determine how you develop the land and provide you with specific guidelines as well as timeframes; however, this plan is meant to be a guideline only, and it can be modified as your objectives may change through time. This plan allows you an easy entry into the American Tree Farm System, which means your wood, now, will be certified. 

Well, Amy, congratulations. Now you've taken the first step in planning, not only your harvest, but how you want to see the land become in the future following the harvest. Prior to this time, you were just gambling or hoping that the next stand following the harvest would become what you envision in the future. 

Amy Myers: Okay, I have a management plan, and that's a good thing, but that hasn't told me what the factors are that are important when I'm harvesting trees and what it'll look like following a harvest. 

Randy Rousseau: Ah, but in your management plan, you would've included a portion about the forest stand assessment. In other words, information concerning the species, the approximate age, the size, the quality of the trees in the stand. In hardwood, quality is the key to greater income. Once we have this information in hand, it points to the fact that you should manage the stand rather than regenerate the stand. You need to think of how this intermediate treatment thinning will work and what should be left as well as what should be removed. This standing, which will provide you some income, but not the greatest because you're holding on to the best trees that had the potential to produce even more valuable with only a limited amount of time; however, if your stand assessment points to an appropriate for a final harvest, you still have to just be aware of how you're going to regenerate the stand. With that being said, there are several general things that you need to be aware of since they will greatly aid you in being successful in your regeneration process in forming that new stand following your harvest. 

The first thing you need to be aware of is how much cheaper naturally regeneration is rather than artificial regeneration using seedlings. This is totally different from pine where artificial regeneration has become the standard. The second thing that we need to be aware of of what type of species we would like to see come back in this stand and where will the source of that material come from. When we're talking about harvest stands, the most valuable species are the oaks, but these species are what we would call shade intolerant, which means they need considerable sunlight for new seedlings to grow into the next stand, and to do this correctly, we need to start preparing for that regeneration. Those seedlings are known as advanced reproduction as we want them, not to only germinate, but start the growing process prior to the harvest.

But the thing that we need to be fully aware of is how much light is getting to these small seedlings. For oak, we need somewhere between 25 to 50% sunlight. If your stand has become heavy will understory or midstory components, then steps must be taken to actually chemically or mechanically remove these. If the sunlight getting to the forest floors is still less than we need it, some of the overstory trees may have to be removed. This entire process needs to be timed with the oaks having a good seed crop so that the remaining trees provide considerable seed for germination. Once we have the advanced reproduction or advanced regeneration on the ground and the seedlings are up to about two to three feet in height, we can then remove all our overstory trees since regeneration has been successful. 

Amy Myers: Okay, thank you so much. Today, we've been speaking with Dr. Randy Rousseau, Mississippi State University extension hardwood specialist. I'm Amy Taylor-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.

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