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Author Topic: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.  (Read 2295 times)

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Offline Brad_S.

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Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« on: January 28, 2007, 07:34:00 PM »
I'm nearing the end of a land reclamation project, demolishing 20 acres of sheds used for raising mink on a defunct fur farm.


I would like to eventually remove the stockade fence that surrounds the acreage (too prison camp looking) and replace it with post and rail fence. To that end, I would like to grow my own posts and rails from black locust. ( It's a large area and I've got plenty of time to wait for them to grow. :D) Additionally, I am in a fast growing wine area, and there is a demand for vineyard grape posts as well.

I would like to plant 2-3 acres of black locust, but after some research I'm concerned about them getting out of hand and regretting having planted them. Has anyone here grown locust plantation style for market? Can anyone point me to a website with info on planting distances, tips for insuring straight stems and propagation control?

Thanks.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." J. Lennon

Offline Larry

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2007, 07:59:36 PM »
Our state, I think recommended them for reclamation of strip pits as they grow on poor soil, and firewood plantations.  My experience has been they will grow straight and self-prune, but when they get over 12” heart rot becomes a problem.  They don’t seem to be invasive…but when logged stump sprouts can be a big problem…and herbicide isn’t very effective.
Larry, making useful and beautiful things out of the most environmental friendly material on the planet.

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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2007, 08:15:35 PM »
Sounds like your tearing down the internment camp and installing a brier patch. Thorns, thorns, thorns. I don't think they are real invasive because of the seed coat that has to break down a bit. Can ya grow osage-orange in NY? I've read that it is planted extensively outside it's natural range. It is often confused for black locust.

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Move'n on.

Offline pineywoods

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2007, 08:59:10 PM »
You better have some tracked vehicles to do the harvesting...Those thorns will penetrate tractor or skidder tires with ease. Bad thing is, they are almost impossible to remove from a tire, patch the tube and the thorn will continue to work its way through the tire.  Many flats from just one thorn..  Don't ask me how I know...
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Offline treebucker

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2007, 09:03:30 PM »
Black locust has short thorns. I've never been put off by them. Do you mean honey locust? I've seen honey locust with thorns big enough to literally flatten the rear tires on a farm tractor.  Note that osage orange (a.k.a. hedge, hedge apple, bodark,etc.) has such ferocious thorns that it's planted to make hedge rows to keep livestock in...in lieu of putting up fencing. But osage orange does make excellent fence posts. It's supposed to "last ten years longer than a rock." :D

Brad_S.
I did some informal research on the web a couple of years ago on black locust. I found a lot of sites and good info. I was supprised by how much was made on some of those sites about how invasive black locust was. I've never seen it here but we live in its native range. I think it's native to your area also. It's supposedly the most widely transplanted tree in the world. Early colonists exported from its native range to every continent except Antarctica. I wonder if the invasiveness is noticed only in its non-native setting?

I wish we had even more of it here. Folklore about the fence posts holds that "It will outlast the hole it's put in."

Edit - I want to point out that black locust is notorious for being crooked.  It's hard to get straight fence posts from them but we like them so much that we use them anyway.  Maybe you'll have better luck growing them under more crowded conditions.
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Offline wesdor

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2007, 09:15:03 PM »
I've heard that Black Locust is a good fence post, but never used them.  Like  Swamp Donkey says, can you grow osage?  I can look in the pasture and see if there are any "apples" left.  Would be happy to work out the details to send you some if you would like. 

If I were you, I'd plant a combination of osage and locust. That way you would have some choices.  I'm not sure which ones grow the fastest.  For sure you want to plant them close to encourage straight and tall posts.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2007, 09:42:17 PM »
They plant a few black locusts around here, but not much further up river than Woodstock, although we always had bristly locust up on some of the really old farms here, gets a lot of frost damage but has beautiful flowers. My grand mother worked with hers a lot. Anyway, I've never seen black locust germinate much unless on old hedge row fences. Never seems to invade the natural woods. I hate the dang things.  :D ;D
Move'n on.

Offline Cedarman

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Re: Black Locust, to plant or not to plant, that is the question.
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2007, 07:29:37 AM »
Fast growing black locust has a pretty big sap ring.  This sap ring will not last near as long as the good yellow green heart wood.
Tordon RTU should do a good job on killling locust.  They send out a lot of suckers from roots.  You will notice the locust leaves next to the one you treat turning yellow.

The bark can be peeled quickly if you do it the day they are cut.  Lay them side by side about 2 posts deep.  Drive a tractor back and forth across them.  This will make the back slip and make it very easy to pull of in long strips.  The bottom 3 feet can be charred to cure the sapwood and make the posts last a lot longer.  Build a low fire about 3 feet wide and 10 to 20 feet long.  Put a green log about 15" diameter next to the fire. Lay the butts over the log into the fire.  Rotate once or twice until charred.
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