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Planting Firewood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by sdrobertson, Feb 15, 2009.

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  1. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    Has anyone planted any type of trees specifically for growing for firewood. I'm looking a hybrid poplar on about one acre. My research has turned up a couple college papers but no real life experience. I know its not nearly a good as hardwood but it would be really close and its just vacant field now so all I would be out would be the planting.

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  2. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    If you're gonna plant anyway, why not plant several species so you've got a bit of visual variety, less vulnerability to tree-specific pests and disease, and generally a healthier "mini forest"? I don't know what specific varieties will work for your area, but you could have yourself a nice mini-woodlot in a few years, plus a pleasant "private forest".

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    From what I've read and some which I planted, the hybrid poplar needs pretty good soil, needs to avoid deer, needs good rain, and it will grow well and fast. It also will stump sprout after being cut, but this can be a bit frustrating because lots of shoots will be sent up -- need to thin out the sprouts. I assume it has about the same btu content as other poplar, aspen, etc., which is about 1/2 that of hickory or white oak. I think it would be a good choice for a short rotation crop where use of the rounds with minimal splitting was the goal. Probably also would be good for a gasification boiler which does very well on 4-5" rounds/splits.

    Some don't like these low density woods, think they are too much work. I burn aspen and low btu pines nearly all the time, and for me, all wood is good heat and usually is good money saved, especially if you have your own land.
  4. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I live in town so the deer wouldn't be to much of a problem and the area is low so it usually has moisture. I'll have to research this more as the miss's hates the vacant non-mowed look that I find easier to maintain now.
  5. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    I've planted a lot of different hardwood trees on our property, but I'll be long gone before they can be used for firewood. I plan on planting some blacck locust before spring. I might be around to get firewood from those. I've read that they're one of the fastest growing hardwoods.
    I think you're wasting your time with the hybrid poplars. You'll probably need about 20 cords of it for one season.
  6. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Plant some nut trees. You could then buy your firewood and have money left over.
  7. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    When my wife and I were looking for a home a number of years ago one of the places we looked at had black locust that they logged off every 8 years according to the owner. He said they cut down the trees at about 8-10" in diameter and in 8 decent years they were usually ready to cut again. He said he sold them for fence posts to some firm and were planted about 12-20' apart so they grew tall and straight.
  8. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    Excellent replies, thank you all. I guess its time to check out black locust and find a supplier in Michigan to figure out prices.
  9. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    There are some negative effects from having black locust trees. I hear they are very invasive and can take control of your yard. Do a lot of research before you decide what to plant.
    From my own experience, black walnut seems to grow fairly fast. It's a medium hardwood, but I think it might be a good candidate also.
    Threre are a lot of different trees that might fit your needs.
  10. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    poplar is crappy firewood ,i would plant black locust and ash trees
  11. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    With all due respect, the poplars burn like all other woods burn, just about the same btu/lb as any other wood. Some may not prefer it, some may intensely dislike it, but if poplar is what you have, poplar is what you burn, poplar is what heats your house, poplar delivers you free from the oil and gas cartels, and poplar also makes some beautiful lumber with very interesting grain, heart and sapwood patterns. I've burned poplar family woods for years and never yet smelled crap -- just smelled the sweet smell of $$$ staying in my pocket rather than in the fuel man's pocket.
  12. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    If you only have an acre I wouldn't crap it up with Poplar...enjoy your back yard and cut some wood using a state permit.
  13. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Native trees do well on native soil. I tend to have a thing against hybrid trees, but that's a personal thing. If black locust is native- you might go with a mix of that and something else- there is a borer infecting them I believe (or some other disease) in some places.
  14. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    If you decide to go with bl walnut I have a few saplings and walnuts that will be ready for growth this spring you can have. In your search remember also that if it is fire wood you want then maximum btu output is a reasonable must with growth rate. The link that follows is not all inclusive but will give you some additional information for the energy supplied by certain wood varieties. If the link gave growth time tables it would be nice but unfortunately that will have to be referenced elsewhere. The black locust can be invasive, so can maple etc. etc, but a lawn mower can control that. The cuttings I mentioned earlier were in a grove that was managed and not wild. When cuttings were conducted regrowth from the old stump instead of new growth from a new tree was the owners approach.
    http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Do think more than twice about those hybrid poplars. Many negatives. They have more limbs than almost any other tree, which means a lot of extra work when it comes time to cut them up and the limbs won't be large enough to cut up for firewood either. You'll have lots of brush. They also are one of the worst smelling woods when you cut them and are heavily loaded with sap. When they dry the are extremely light in weight, which means not a lot of heat and they will burn up super fast.

    They also tend to have a big root system and the roots have a tendency to come part way out of the ground. So if you wanted to clear the stumps, it would be a big job even for a dozer. However, the very worst thing we've seen about them is they tend to get weak spots anywhere from 3' to 15' high. Once the weak spot forms, you can count on the tree busting within a couple of years. When they bust further up, then then hang and it is dangerous to even be around them lest they fall on your head.

    As for deer bothering them, we never noticed that but deer do like them for bedding areas because of so many small limbs giving lots of cover. They also will eat the leaves, even after they drop in the fall.

    Yes, several years ago we planted a few just to see what they would do. We were sorry we planted them. We also planted a couple of hybrid elm. Much the same results but they did make good shade trees and did not seem quite as weak as the poplars.
  16. rphurley

    rphurley Feeling the Heat

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    I would recommend planting various hardwoods that are native to your location.
  17. NoPaint

    NoPaint Member

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    Mulberry grows quick and has berries. I would plant tons of Mulberry over any other hardwood personally.
  18. Ken45

    Ken45 Minister of Fire

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    I know that black locust is a reasonably fast growing tree, but I doubt that you will get decent firewood in 8 years. We have some black locust here. We have lived here 7 years now and only a couple of the trees are 8-10" and they were decent sized 7 years ago.

    I just went out and looked at a round laying outside. Looks like the growth rings are under 1/8" so an 8" tree would take at least 32 years. YMMV, maybe you have a better locust growing environment.

    Ken
  19. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Might want to read post # 10 again, this boy is right on.Two years ago I planted hybrid poplars for firewood because I was convinced OPEC will turn off the spicket and when there is nothing but popple, I will burn it and be darn glad I have it! I think I will be happy with them. They are 4' tall now and the ash and maple are coming up naturally so I think it will look very natural with smaller trees taking their time making good hardwood and poplars growing much faster.I got white pine and spruce in the mix too. There are things you need to know before you even start. 1. They hate weeds and grass the first two years, it really stunts their growth. The best thing is to hoe around the trees or pull the weeds. If the tree is 2' tall pull weeds at least a foot away from the trunk, or put wood chips around the tree to keep weeds down and moisture in. 2. They love water! so pray for good rains. 3. They love chicken chit! Yup, I raise 100 chickens every year and a shovel of it around it and a few gallons of water to make it soak in will make that tree grow 4' the first year, mine are two years old and the ones I watered,kept the weeds down and used chicken chit are 10' tall. Six months from now they will be 16 or 17 ' tall. The ones I left alone are only averaging 4'. I used roundup to kill the weeds and it hurt the trees bad. I planted them 3-5' apart and they will grow straight up. Look at some of the images of hybrid poplars an when grown close together they are darn good looking timbers after 10 years. I started with poplar cuttings. This is just a stick from a branch with buds on it. Till the soil real good and soft and put it carefully in the ground without hurting the buds. Leave one bud sticking 1" above soil and make sure the bud is pointing up. Put the sticks in warm pond water for 3-5 days before planting. You will see small roots staring in a few days if you put it in a clear bucket so it gets light and warm water. Plant after a good soaking rain if you can. Watch em grow and enjoy a real nice looking tree. After a few years cut the bottom few branches off and sell the cuttings for a quarter or so.
  20. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Might want to read post # 10 again, this boy is right on.Two years ago I planted hybrid poplars for firewood because I was convinced OPEC will turn off the spicket and when there is nothing but popple, I will burn it and be darn glad I have it! I think I will be happy with them. They are 4' tall now and the ash and maple are coming up naturally so I think it will look very natural with smaller trees taking their time making good hardwood and poplars growing much faster.I got white pine and spruce in the mix too. There are things you need to know before you even start. 1. They hate weeds and grass the first two years, it really stunts their growth. The best thing is to hoe around the trees or pull the weeds. If the tree is 2' tall pull weeds at least a foot away from the trunk, or put wood chips around the tree to keep weeds down and moisture in. 2. They love water! so pray for good rains. 3. They love chicken chit! Yup, I raise 100 chickens every year and a shovel of it around it and a few gallons of water to make it soak in will make that tree grow 4' the first year, mine are two years old and the ones I watered,kept the weeds down and used chicken chit are 10' tall. Six months from now they will be 16 or 17 ' tall. The ones I left alone are only averaging 4'. I used roundup to kill the weeds and it hurt the trees bad. I planted them 3-5' apart and they will grow straight up. Look at some of the images of hybrid poplars an when grown close together they are darn good looking timbers after 10 years. I started with poplar cuttings. This is just a stick from a branch with buds on it. Till the soil real good and soft and put it carefully in the ground without hurting the buds. Leave one bud sticking 1" above soil and make sure the bud is pointing up. Put the sticks in warm pond water for 3-5 days before planting. You will see small roots staring in a few days if you put it in a clear bucket so it gets light and warm water. Plant after a good soaking rain if you can. Watch em grow and enjoy a real nice looking tree. After a few years cut the bottom few branches off and sell the cuttings for a quarter or so.
  21. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    Poplar is extremely sensitive to Roundup. "Just unscrew the cap and stand upwind" was how my forester put it.

    Just an acre probably isn't enough to justify hiring a commercial professional forester. But you already have paid a professional forester. Why not bring them in on your job? I'm referring to your local State Forestry Service (or whatever they are called in your state). They have all the information and it's based on your local area, which is better than some of the information and personal experience we swap here on this forum. What works in one state might not do well in yours. Different soils and exposures will make a big difference what grows best even in the same town. I can see very different growth rates of the same species on my own woodlot of only 60 acres because of different soil conditions (drier ridges and wetter flat areas). Here in Maine the local forest ranger came out and spent several hours hiking up and down my woodlot with me making observations and answering my thousand questions. Gave me a bundle of very informative educational literature for woodlot owners. These folks are great.

    We all pay far more taxes than we will personally benefit from. Time to tip the balance back your way. You've paid 'em, why not use 'em?

    Check out your local University Extension, too.
  22. EDGE

    EDGE New Member

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    I guess I'll chuck a chunk in here.
    I don't know how old you are but I think growing firewood is a poor game. One that you are likely to lose.

    Still, growing trees is a real pleasure. I like seeing the babies come along on up.
    The lazy-man's method for an acre or so is this: Blacken the ground. Plow it or till it when it is dry. Keep it black until fall. Come fall, take your pick-up to town and pick up the bags of leaves that are sitting around in the city park and, given permission, on private berms. Take the bags back home and spread the contents to a depth of three or four inches, on your blackened up site, either in rows or patches. Then go home and drink beer. Your work is done.
    The bags will have been full of the seeds of trees that are hardy enough to thrive in your specific location. The contents of the bags not only supply tree seed but also provide mulch and shade, which is a weed suppressant. Go back in a few--- say 2 to 3--- years and I'll bet you will be pretty pleased with your work. But your treelings won't be quite ripe enough for the stove. Not for a few decades.

    Oh, yeah: If you really want some summer-seeding trees, such as silver maple, it shouldn't be too much trouble to intersperse a few.
  23. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Green Locust. If you factor in speed of growth, BTU value, and hardiness, nothing beats it.
  24. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Edge, I know what you mean. I can get millions of elm seeds in the city. Never thought of that though. I do have tons of ash, maple and some oak coming up between the popples. Should make a nice woods. in Eight years or so I can cut some poples each year and make it look like a more mature woods sooner and have brush for the turkeys and deer.
  25. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    ash
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