1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Will standing dead trees season faster?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Knots, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Knots

    Knots Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Last year I was sitting pretty - 3+ years ahead on hardwood. Then I moved. Since inter-state wood moving is a no-no around here, I'm starting from zero.

    I'm hoping to do some work in the next month to put up some wood that will be good in about 9 months.

    So far, I poached some of the wood that the power line crews left behind. Some very green soft maple and white birch that I will cut, split, and stack on skids in a sunny/windy area. But this a small amount of wood.

    My wood lot has plenty of standing dead trees that still have solid wood cores. If I put this stuff up now, will it dry faster than green wood?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,790
    Loc:
    NNJ
    There are dead standing trees that are available immediately to burn. Usually just the tops. Your best bet is black locust and ash. They start out with low moisture <40% to begin with.
  3. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,540
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    Yes by virtue of no new moisture being introduced annually but to get to >20% it will depend on species, size of splits, wind, sun, and time. I burned a lot of one year ash my first full season with good success. That same wood is burning better this year and will be much better next. Get it split small and in the stacks asap and you should be alright. Much better than the alternative.
  4. Knots

    Knots Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Most of it is probably...ugh...red oak. I can probably track down some maples, beech, and maybe a birch (they tend to go bad quick).
  5. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,097
    Loc:
    Kennett Square, PA
    Yeah Knots as you probably know standing dead red oak will absorb water unfortunately. go for the maple and birch.
  6. andybaker

    andybaker Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    391
    Loc:
    Northwest OH
    I would think if you get it split and stacked by spring there is a very good chance it will be ready by next winter providing it's good and dead now. I cut up a couple water soaked Oak limbs a few weeks ago. I was curious how long they would take to dry. They were completely water logged and three weeks later, sitting outside and undercover (the patio roof) they are now dry as a bone. I am surprised but it told me that if I get this Oak cut up and stacked it will dry quick. I have a huge dead Oak I'm planning on getting soon as the ground lets me back there to get it. So I'd say get what you can, process it and get it up and keep it dry, I think you will be ok.
  7. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,149
    Loc:
    northwest Virginia
    Yes the tops dry faster, many are ready to burn soon after cutting. The trunks not so much, but I think once they're split even the trunks dry faster than a tree cut down live.
  8. Jack Fate

    Jack Fate Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2013
    Messages:
    381
    Loc:
    Northwest Ohio
    get that oak started it's money in the bank ( substantial withdrawal applies ) maple is 2 types hard & soft .soft seasons faster but hard is better .Personally I don't like birch ,to me it just burns up like paper .Ash is good , If it's dead the tops do season faster ,keep the tops separate from the lower trunk.

    need to get busy myself :rolleyes:
  9. jackatc1

    jackatc1 Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2011
    Messages:
    196
    Loc:
    Port Crane ny
    Standing dead red oak, say 6" to 10" DBH, with the bark already gone
    Should be fine for 2013/2014 if css now.
  10. ArsenalDon

    ArsenalDon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2012
    Messages:
    749
    Loc:
    Meadow Valley, CA
    Find some dead pine and you can burn it almost immediately
  11. Knots

    Knots Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Thanks for the info folks. I'll get out there as soon as the snow melts. Need to track down some skids too...
  12. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,540
    Loc:
    Central Michigan
    I don't think dead oak is actually soaking up water anymore, just that it reluctantly gives up the water that is already there. It must have something to do with the cell structure of oak but we will need a biologist to explain that. PITA but best to keep the barkless and smaller stuff separate for first year burning of any standing dead. Higher branches will be drier by virtue of exposure and less mass not to mention, gravity is your friend and water likes to be closer to the ground.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  13. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,595
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    As you discovered dont spend your time on standing dead white birch. Its almost always not worth the effort and cuting them tends to be dangerous as the tops and branches tend to fall off when disturbed. THe crowns usually die off first, so if you see a birch with patches of dead crown, its time to drop it.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  14. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,161
    Loc:
    Schoharie County, N Y
    I seem to have the best luck with standing dead elm. Seems to dry out nice with no rot. Most of my other standing dead seem to rot rather quickly.(mostly ash)
  15. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    The others have already offered great advice. Standing dead oak (any species) no longer absorbs water, but it also doesn't allow all of its moisture out, as well. Its still gonna take 2 years minimum for those standing dead oak trunks to be optimal, after they are C/S/S. Id be going after all of that stuff in the coming months. As for dead maples, elm, ash and birch.....I'd be concentrating on those wood right now, as they can be ready for next season. Maybe take some of the smaller oak (tops and limbs), split them up smaller and that stuff may be ready to go next winter as well.

    Welcome to the nuthouse, BTW!
  16. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,722
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Yes
  17. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
    Messages:
    5,491
    Loc:
    Southern IN
    I don't know if it will dry faster but it'll be starting at a lower moisture content so it doesn't have as far to go. I've seen Oak limbs up to 4-5" that were already below 20%. Trunks might be in the mid-twenties but if they aren't split too big, they may be pretty dry after two summers. Soft Maple is really quick, even if starting with green wood. If you can hook up with a tree service and have them bring you some, and you stack it now, you should get by OK next winter.
    I've found White Ash to hold up pretty well, even on the ground. Dead standing with the smaller branches gone and the bark starting to slough is real quick to dry. I don't know about American Elm, but Slippery (Red) doesn't dry too fast but I get dead standing with the bark gone so it is already low twenties, smaller limbs in the teens, when cut.
    BobUrban likes this.
  18. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Messages:
    2,161
    Loc:
    Schoharie County, N Y
    I've found White Ash to hold up pretty well, even on the ground. Dead standing with the smaller branches gone and the bark starting to slough is real quick to dry. I don't know about American Elm, but Slippery (Red) doesn't dry too fast but I get dead standing with the bark gone so it is already low twenties, smaller limbs in the teens, when cut.[/quote]

    My woods are very wet, I think that might be part of the problem.
  19. TimJ

    TimJ Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,229
    Loc:
    Southeast Indiana
    I've found White Ash to hold up pretty well, even on the ground. Dead standing with the smaller branches gone and the bark starting to slough is real quick to dry. I don't know about American Elm, but Slippery (Red) doesn't dry too fast but I get dead standing with the bark gone so it is already low twenties, smaller limbs in the teens, when cut.[/quote]




    Woody, did you put the moisture meter to the red elm you just got ?
  20. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,499
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Mine, too. I find myself dropping them with an almost chest high cut, and still having to leave a round or two. The rotten stumps are getting interesting to work with. I am burning ash right now that was split and stacked last summer. It's plenty dry.
  21. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
    Messages:
    5,491
    Loc:
    Southern IN
    Not yet, but gonna start splitting it in the next couple days. But some of the smallest rounds ring like a bell so I think most of the rounds will be in line with the Red I've gotten previously. I'll drag that thread back up when I split and test...
  22. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
    Messages:
    5,491
    Loc:
    Southern IN
    That's encouraging; I split this last batch kinda big... :oops:
  23. Knots

    Knots Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Thanks! Most of my friends think I overdo it a little with the firewood preparation. This seems like the right place to have that OCD validated.
    Trilifter7 likes this.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Welcome to the forum Knots.

    Really sad to hear you could not move that wood. We've had the same situation but got through it and you will too.

    That soft maple you got definitely will be ready by fall. You can cut it in March and if you split and stack it, by fall it is just about ideal. White birch can also dry fast once it is split and stacked. White ash is another one.

    On the dead trees, we cut quite a bit of dead elm and have for many years. We wait until the bark is off or most of it is off before cutting. The top third and perhaps the top half can be burned right away but not so on the butt. Oak is another animal for sure. Even standing dead it usually is high moisture and usually needs 2 years minimum.The beech and maple if dead could be ready by fall.

    My suggestion is to cut as much as you can and get it split and stacked quickly. Split it on the small side. Stack it loosely; don't try for pretty stacks because you want air to go through the stacks for drying. I would not stack over 4' maximum and for sure stack each row separate from the others. Stack it in the windiest spot you have. Sun will help but if you have a choice, always go for wind. Air circulation is the key to drying wood.

    Good luck.
    Woody Stover likes this.
  25. Knots

    Knots Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    172
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Good advice. My friends were glad I moved. I stop by once in awhile and visit my old firewood!
    Backwoods Savage and Lumber-Jack like this.

Share This Page