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Author Topic: How long can standing dead cherry...  (Read 1430 times)

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Offline GrizG

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How long can standing dead cherry...
« on: May 31, 2017, 02:24:07 PM »
...still yield good boards? 

I'm engaged in dropping about 30 dead cherry along a rail trail / power line corridor. These trees were topped by a power company contractor, and killed, quite some time ago (over 10 years I think). I took down 9 of them so far and while the sapwood is punky and the bark is all but gone the heartwood is still very hard and well dried.

I wedged a 20" DBH tree over the other day. This as I preferred to drop it on the trail rather than have it fall across the trail into a beaver pond...  I used an open face and plunge cut to establish the hinge. I was going against the lean and needed 3+" of wedges to get it over center. The hinge held until the tree was almost completely on the ground.  While cutting it up for firewood I noticed that the entire trunk's heartwood was still solid.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth milling them. I'm concerned that 10+ year old standing dead cherry trees are going to yield little more than pallet wood.

Thoughts?

Offline dustyhat

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2017, 02:43:16 PM »
Give it a try if you can get them cheap enough. some standing dead trees are worth it .I know poplar around here guys dont want if its been standing dead but i have sawed alot of good lumber out of it as well as oaks. sawed a cherry a few years ago that had been on the ground for about a year or two. the lumber sold quit well.
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Offline dustyhat

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2017, 02:54:33 PM »
But of coarse after i think about it 10 years is a long time.
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Offline CJennings

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 08:38:23 PM »
Only way to tell with a specific log is to start milling it and see what it looks like as you go through it. If it looks horrible as you cut it up I'd put it in the firewood pile. Even if the wood has a bit of "character" it might be worth it, or it may not. Depends on your uses for it, local market, and the lumber. With black cherry I'd err on the side of giving it a try before relegating it to be burned. Many other species I wouldn't think twice about burning it instead. I got a free butternut log 2 winters ago to get milled because someone thought it was rotten in the center. It wasn't, the decay they saw didn't extend too far and I got some nice lumber out of the deal.

Offline derhntr

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2017, 08:02:30 AM »
Post powder beetle would be one of my concerns. If wood is solid give it a try.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2017, 08:27:14 AM »
10 years standing dead is a lot better than on the ground.

We have old dead and down Cherry that literally had all the sap wood rotted off and still had sound heart.  They are all much smaller here though.
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Offline Ox

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 12:32:23 PM »
There are so many different variables that I don't think there's a clear answer for you except to do like the others have said and try it and see what you get.  In my past experience I've gotten good, nice looking boards out of black cherry standing dead just like you described.
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Offline GrizG

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2017, 03:48:01 PM »
I'm going to give it a try... I will use my chainsaw mill on one to see what it looks like. If it turns out decent I'll get the logs out and have them sawn on a bandsaw mill. The logs themselves are free... in 6-10 months heavy equipment is going to run through them if they are still there.

Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2017, 09:16:51 PM »
GrizG,

   I cut a nice sized cherry last summer that had the top snapped out 5 years earlier. I don't know how similar it was to yours. My tree was about 40' tall and the bottom 30-35 feet were fine and basically looked alive. The top had a lot of shake from the derecho that damaged it but the rest were fine and I probably cleared close to $1K over time selling some unique mantels, slabs and boards off it.

   Good luck with yours.
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Offline GrizG

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2017, 10:21:44 PM »
GrizG,

   I cut a nice sized cherry last summer that had the top snapped out 5 years earlier. I don't know how similar it was to yours. My tree was about 40' tall and the bottom 30-35 feet were fine and basically looked alive. The top had a lot of shake from the derecho that damaged it but the rest were fine and I probably cleared close to $1K over time selling some unique mantels, slabs and boards off it.

   Good luck with yours.
Sound like you did OK on that one!

However, whereas the bottom of yours looked alive, the ones I have access to are all devoid of bark and the sapwood is punky... So far the heartwood on the ones I've cut to firewood lengths were solid. Based on responses here I'm going to mill one tree with my chainsaw mill and see how it looks. Unfortunately, that will be delayed due to emergent family matters... My time isn't my own at the moment!

Offline GrizG

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 09:38:29 PM »
Figured I'd follow up... Most of the trees were too far gone. I found that with every round I cut off I could see radial cracks. I did however find a couple trees that had punky sap wood but no radial cracks. I took 8 short logs and have milled 4 of them so far. The wood actually looks pretty good so I'm going to sticker it in my lumber shed. 

There are a couple good size red oak there too that the beavers chewed up. They've got some life left in them so I assume the logs are probably going to be OK. I thought it was interesting that the beavers did not chew on a single walnut tree... I shouldn't be surprised.  I have mixed emotions about that though as my lumber shed is nearly empty of walnut. ;~)

Offline bitternut

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 12:36:02 AM »
I got some beautiful lumber out of standing dead cherry trees. The sap wood is all powdery but the rest is solid and has great color. I don't like the white sapwood on a board anyway and usually trim that off of a board.

If you see solid wood at both ends when you trim the log to length the lumber should be good. Even logs laying on the ground will give you lots of nice boards.

I get powder post beetles in my white ash firewood but have never seen them in any of my cherry firewood. My lumber stash has always been bug free. Plenty of mice turds though.  >:(

Offline Mad Professor

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2018, 03:47:39 AM »
I got some beautiful lumber out of standing dead cherry trees. The sap wood is all powdery but the rest is solid and has great color. I don't like the white sapwood on a board anyway and usually trim that off of a board.

If you see solid wood at both ends when you trim the log to length the lumber should be good. Even logs laying on the ground will give you lots of nice boards.

I get powder post beetles in my white ash firewood but have never seen them in any of my cherry firewood. My lumber stash has always been bug free. Plenty of mice turds though.  >:(

I concur with the above. The sap wood will rot quick but the heartwood is very rot resistant.  I even save cull boards of heartwood cherry and resaw into tomato sticks or stickers.  Never any bug problems unless there was rot and then only ants.  Wait, there was a honeybee nest in one tree I felled.

Offline PA_Walnut

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2018, 04:20:35 AM »
It seems to get a nicer, darker color from what I've seen here. Like said, it can be a bit powdery, but the heart wood can have some amazing color and character.  8)
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Offline GrizG

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Re: How long can standing dead cherry...
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2018, 09:11:12 AM »
I should clarify that when I started working on those trees it looked like the power company killed them with aggressive topping/limbing. With only the trunks standing I assumed the power company killed them all due to the saw cuts on the first trees I felled.  As I worked my way deeper into the heavy brush I discovered that beavers had girdled the trees. That is probably what really killed most of them. Based on that I now suspect that the trees died at different times dependent upon the beaver activity. This may explain why they had different degrees of deterioration. So I ended up with some cherry firewood, and some cherry boards, and the rail trail is cleared for the next phase which includes preparation for paving that section. It's all good.


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