I have 2 acres of woods and 3 acres of field in NE Ohio. I'd like to "plant some firewood" for the future. Any suggestions?

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Propane_Poor

Member
Oct 20, 2018
75
Ohio
I would like to use our empty field space to start growing a firewood supply.

Here in NE Ohio we are in USDA zone 6. My woods has ash, elm, maple, and oak, among others.

My field soil is heavy in clay, which makes it less than ideal, but anything would be more productive than just mowing more grass.

Any suggestions on an approach? I read that Black Locust might be a good option to look into, but am unfamiliar with it.

Wondering if a softwood/willow type tree might also be an option given the poor drainage here. Growing up we had some trees kind of like vertical weeping willows (I think we called them Melaleuca or Oss trees) and they grew FAST.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
3,510
SE North Carolina
What kinds of soft woods grow in your area? Any commercial logging and replanting? If I was going to sustainably plant firewood to harvest on two acres I would look seriously at pine if it fit my soil type.
3 reasons.
1 Planting density. The new hybrids are planted quite close together. Less branching means higher density and I think safer falling.
2 costs of trees Since the commercial market exists in my area they would be the cheapest option
3 ease of splitting. I would probably star harvesting at 8” base (depending on growth rate) and a skinny pole with very few limbs would would split easily.

That said whatever grown best/fastest in your location and soil should be your choice. Contacting your local extension office and asking this question would probably be a good place to start.
 

Bobbob

Member
Jan 13, 2022
82
Transfer PA
We planted half acre trees about 15 years ago. Many of which could be cut for firewood right now. Our intentions were only to fill in an area of our yard that was completely bare. We have 17 acres of woods and replanted saplings from there. A mixture of cherry, oak, poplar and beech. If I were you I would just start moving saplings from your woods. In my experience native trees grow better as they are already accustomed to the area. Also if planting for firewood alone, plant the local species that grows the quickest and requires the least amount of seasoning. For me that would be cherry. Locust does grow rather quickly, but can take 2-3 years to season. Cherry grows almost as quick, yet can season much faster. Either way it's going to be more of a long term investment. But still a good idea
 

ericm979

Burning Hunk
Nov 2, 2018
201
California
Locally adapted native species are going to be the best bet generally. Sometimes foreign species do well but it's a crap shoot. Replanting saplings from the woods is a good idea.

If you just stop mowing or grazing the pasture it will naturally fill in with trees from the nearby woods but it may take longer than you want.
 
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sesmith

Feeling the Heat
Dec 11, 2009
278
Central NY
In Ohio, you shouldn't need to plant anything. The field will eventually revert to forest from the neighboring forest provided you do something to protect the seedlings from deer. That said, you might not get any firewood trees in your lifetime.

If you do want to plant something, I would suggest black locust. It grows to pole size pretty quickly, and can also be harvested for fence posts, as well as firewood and is self sustaining. The flowers smell good in the spring too. You still will need to protect it from the deer.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
I would not consider seasoning time; it is negligible when compared to the growing time.

So black locust.
 
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DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
648
Upstate NY
I think this is the time of year to get the black locust seed pods too. My aunt has a bunch of black locust in her yard, and I noticed the other day when I was over the trees were full of pods. I’m going to harvest some for myself to plant in the woods.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
6,693
07462
Genetically altered american elm
 
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CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
708
SW Ohio
  1. If managing your land for timber, consider using culled trees from your stand improvement.
  2. If planting trees for solely for short term volume gains it's tough to beat hybrid poplar (Populus).
Amazingly short rotations that can be harvested, chipped with coppice sprouts regrowing back soon within a few years.
When I was a boy we had a single specimen in front yard that grew to over 100' (and 30"+ DBH) in about 15 years before mom finally prevailed on its removal. Arborist dropped it across neighbor's yard with the top reaching into the neighbor's yard beyond.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
Elm would be one I would avoid. Tough to split.
 

Deppizzymo

Member
Feb 28, 2022
55
Missouri
Check to see if your state has a state nursery. Where I live, Missouri, the state nursery is the best option for sure. They actually massively increased their prices recently though due to increases in shipping costs/labor costs/inflation and it's still quite a cheap program to take advantage of. They sell about 70 different species of shrubs/trees including osage orange/a multitude of oaks/cherry/hickory etc for $0.60 a seedling (up from $0.34). Your state likely has something similar if I had to guess. Osage grows fairly quickly and as we all know is the best firewood around (almost too good). Something quicker to grow would be a pine species but I honestly think pine trees are kinda ugly and have always planted hardwoods in my area. I have planted close to 1000 trees through the Missouri nursery program. I plan to buy trees every year until I die lol
 

DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
648
Upstate NY
And even if we can’t take advantage of the trees during our lifetimes, future generations can.

My dad planted a few acres of larch close to 70 years ago. I cut some of those trees for lumber to build my house.
 
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Deppizzymo

Member
Feb 28, 2022
55
Missouri
And even if we can’t take advantage of the trees during our lifetimes, future generations can.

My dad planted a few acres of larch close to 70 years ago. I cut some of those trees for lumber to build my house.
That is beyond cool.... I hope my kids / grandkids can take advantage of the trees I have planted as well. It's a family plot that has been around for 100 years. Honestly even if someone who ends up NOT being family takes advantage of those trees to actually build/create something... Mission accomplished. I bet that put a smile on your dad's face, whether he is with us or not.
 
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GrumpyDad

Minister of Fire
Feb 23, 2022
553
Champion, PA
We planted half acre trees about 15 years ago. Many of which could be cut for firewood right now. Our intentions were only to fill in an area of our yard that was completely bare. We have 17 acres of woods and replanted saplings from there. A mixture of cherry, oak, poplar and beech. If I were you I would just start moving saplings from your woods. In my experience native trees grow better as they are already accustomed to the area. Also if planting for firewood alone, plant the local species that grows the quickest and requires the least amount of seasoning. For me that would be cherry. Locust does grow rather quickly, but can take 2-3 years to season. Cherry grows almost as quick, yet can season much faster. Either way it's going to be more of a long term investment. But still a good idea
I like this idea. Buying saplings hurts my brain. They are usually not super healthy. If you dig a nice wide area around a sapling, no larger than a few feet high then all you need is to dig outwards about the width or a bit more of the opening of a 5gal bucket. Then just a foot deep, at an angle, then dump it into the same bucket, take it to it's new planting location and plant.
Have the holes ready. Twice the width of the root ball you dug out from above. Put some good soil at the bottom of the hole, root ball centered in hole then good soil packed all around.
You don't need to water new trees often. In fact you don't want to. You do want to water then deeply though. So fall or early spring transplants seem to be the best with fall likely being my favorite personally.
A local nursery can tell you best for each tree, or look it up online. Throw some business their way for the advice but otherwise if you already have two acres you likely have what you need to start another two in saplings.
 
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DonTee

Minister of Fire
Dec 1, 2021
648
Upstate NY
That is beyond cool.... I hope my kids / grandkids can take advantage of the trees I have planted as well. It's a family plot that has been around for 100 years. Honestly even if someone who ends up NOT being family takes advantage of those trees to actually build/create something... Mission accomplished. I bet that put a smile on your dad's face, whether he is with us or not.
The property I'm on has been in the family about 150 years. My dad and his siblings planted a bunch of larch and spruce as kids through a 4H program. He told me he had planned on selling the spruce as Christmas trees, but by the time they were big enough for that he was in college and he just wanted to party. I mean focus on his studies. Lol.

He’s told me he regrets not planting all larch.

So I’m always thinking of ways I can make the property better for my kids. I figure that out of 4 of them, at least one will be interested in being the caretaker for our little forest.
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,996
NNJ
Locust without thorns.
 

GrumpyDad

Minister of Fire
Feb 23, 2022
553
Champion, PA
The property I'm on has been in the family about 150 years. My dad and his siblings planted a bunch of larch and spruce as kids through a 4H program. He told me he had planned on selling the spruce as Christmas trees, but by the time they were big enough for that he was in college and he just wanted to party. I mean focus on his studies. Lol.

He’s told me he regrets not planting all larch.

So I’m always thinking of ways I can make the property better for my kids. I figure that out of 4 of them, at least one will be interested in being the caretaker for our little forest.
Ah I wish I had that kind of land. Ours is limited as we live in a cabin community so the lots arent that large. I have a couple of lots, one with a pond and some trees, the other with our cabin, a patch of land to run around in, the rest are trees. Yet it still takes me 40 minutes to cut grass, however I only cut maybe 4 times a year.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
6,165
Long Island NY
In my undersranding he is talking about black locust (and not honey locust).
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,996
NNJ
Black locust in my area doesn't have thorns. I've seen locust from the mid west with 3" thorns.