Planting firewood

onlinefunner

New Member
Oct 28, 2020
14
chester id
I live in growing zone 4b, low rainfall, NW USA (ID) and want to plant some trees for firewood, years down the road of course. What should I plant?

Around here most cut lodgepole since its grows all over. Having straight logs is easier to split too, but not sure about planting the stuff. Otherwise, not a lot of things I have seen grow around here.

I can water too probably, but prefer something that will take care of itself once established.

Looking for high BTU stuff of course, minimal space usage (lots of BTU per sq foot), so I see osage orange is one interesting option, but what are some others? I also want things I can also use for other purposes, like creating tools from the wood, building lumber, etc...

I think the main bottleneck is climate (low water and cold).

What are your recommendations?
 

CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
526
SW Ohio
Why not start a tree farm ? Grow trees for the next generation.
Part of its management is timber stand improvement (TSI) from which you could get firewood provided you have enough land.
On a side note, one of fastest tree species for biomass production is Populous (cottonwood). Can be harvested/ mowed on short rotations for fuel.​
 
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qwee

Member
Jan 17, 2013
32
I'm not to far from you. Aren't you right next to Yellowstone park? Aren't there trees everywhere? I would just get a permit or scrounge around the side roads. But if you must, I might grow one of the locust trees - black or honey. They can handle the alkaline soil, low H2O, and cold better than most. And once established, they will sprout back up from trees cut down. Just find some pods. They are plentiful because the trees are often planted for decoration - so pods around schools, parks, libraries ....... (note: honey locust seeds may revert to thorned trees even though the parent was thornless). And they are a hjgher BTU firewood.
 

Lakeside

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
556
Mike's World
Will Black Locust grow in your area. I understand fast grower and high BTU's too.
 
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onlinefunner

New Member
Oct 28, 2020
14
chester id
Wow, great article. Hadnt really thought about that. Esp "The beauty of coppice firewood production is that coppiced trees maintained in a juvenile stage will never die of old age."

Black locust and honey locust are ones I plan on, esp as I am doing this as part of a food forest and need nitrogen sources.

Cool, I did not know how to find them until you suggested.

Black locust can be very invasive in some areas. I forgot if it was a problem here, but basically, because its such a sturdy plant, this is why it's invasive--wont die. In some colder areas, many invasive species dont spread. Russian olives are a problem here though last I checked. Black locust may also be poisonous fore livestock, but no real evidence livestock will eat (enough) to get sick, but honey seems like safe bet.

Speaking of biomass: Paulownia (Paulownia), which is fastest growing biomass tree, which requires coppicing for max results, but none really suited yet I think for my zone.

Might as well mention possibility of adding cold-hardy nut trees for food and firewood.

As for tree farm: Well I have only 1/2 to 1 acre for trees. Doubt that is enough to start a serious farm.

Cottonwood grows like is a weed around here. Prob should cut one or two on my property and see what happens. It grows fast, but less BTU, so basically the net result is zero. Just more cutting and loading the firebox, and possibly more land needed to grow the same BTU's esp if I dont cut it, which is why I think Osage might be good.
 

RockyMtnGriz

Member
Apr 19, 2019
87
SW Montana
I would seriously consider going with whatever is growing there naturally, since a tree that grows provides infinitely more satisfaction and btus than one that doesn't! I have some 7 year old, 2 foot tall aspens I can show you to prove it. Most of the ones that aren't dead are a foot shorter than when I planted them. Ma Nature has worked for many a year to figure out what grows best there.

I'm a few hundred miles north of you, and a couple thousand feet higher. I, probably like you, have my choice of lodgepole, spruce, and doug fir. For burning, and most every other reason, I'd pick doug fir, but I'd be planting those for my grandchildren. If I wanted to harvest some small trees before I die, I might have some luck with the lodgepole, since it grows so fast. For most of us, with trees, it's not a question of what you want to harvest, but what you want to leave behind. I'm trying to encourage a mix of native trees because I think it's the right thing to do. Going all out with one thing could lead to nothing - like the pine beetle disaster. And, growing something that's not already here, like aspens or tomatoes, is an adventure!
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
700
SW Missoura
I've never heard of anyone planting locust trees. They are a weed tree here and take over any idle pasture like the plague. I'd stay away from them personally. Yes they are great for firewood tho.
 
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RockyMtnGriz

Member
Apr 19, 2019
87
SW Montana
Where I grew up, the highway dept planted a bunch of black locust trees along the main street. The problem with that is these trees exhibit serious self-pruning tendencies when exposed to wet snow. You quickly learned not to park anywhere near them if that was a possibility, because locust limbs are heavy as hell, and will crush anything they hit.
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
413
Idaho
I've got just shy of 40 acres. It is to be reforested. Covid-19 put us at least a year behind due to travel restrictions etc., for the planters. One thing I found out is that for the best success the seeds need to come from trees within a 50 to 75 mile radius of the planting area. The distance is specific to the species. I am looking at ponderosa and tamarack. I will be long dead before harvest.

The seedlings need to be ordered a year in advance. The planting and rehabilitation plan spans five years.

To get quick growth and recovery I think you will have to go with a weed species. But hey, what do I know?