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Author Topic: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South  (Read 26606 times)

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Offline WDH

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First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« on: September 15, 2009, 09:32:12 AM »
I am currently engaged in some forestry and logging work on my property in central Georgia.  I thought the membership might be interested in how it is done in the South since logging practices differ considerably depending on what part of the world you live in.

I am having a first thinning done on 50 acres of loblolly pine plantation that I established in February 1998.  This stand is just finishing its 12th growing season.  Given the density of the stand, it needs thinning to keep the crowns full and healthy and to remove poor quality trees.  Needles grow wood, so it is time to thin when the live crown ratio (length of green growing crown divided by total height) begins to fall below 40% and the total height reaches 35 - 40 feet.  Here is a pic of the unthinned stand:
 



Here is a shot of the thinned stand. 

 



Every fifth row was removed and trees were thinned from the adjoining four rows with a felleerbuncher with a sawhead.  The trees are skidded to a log deck where they are delimbed with a chain flail delimber called a Delimbinator.  The skidder takes the logging slash, tops, limbs, and needles and re-distributes this material in the cut rows to put the nutrients back on the site and to create a protective layer on the soil.  Here is a pic of the Tigercat fellerbuncher and another pic of the sawhead which is a rotating disc with replaceable teeth.

 



 


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Offline Don K

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 09:40:44 AM »
Whoever is doing the work, Danny is doing a outstanding job as I don't see any scuffed trees in that pic. I hate catfaces and pine beetles! >:(

I bet every logger in the South wishes their thinning jobs were as clean as your plantation is. You have done a admirable job of keeping it up. I guess that comes from being a knowledgeable forester.

I am coming over there one day as I would love to see your place.

Don
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Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 09:43:18 AM »
Here is a shot of the take-out row for the skidder with some of the logging slash that has been re-deposited.

 



Here is the Tigercat skidder with a grapple full of trees being delivered to the delimbinator.

 



Here is the loader using the delimbinator to flail off the limbs and needles.  This is not a delicate process!  You can hear the flail from more than a mile away.  Also here is a pic of the business end of the delimbinator.  It is a rotating shaft with chains afixed.  The shaft rotates at high speed, the tree tops are pulled into the flail, and all DanG breaks loose!

 



 



The wood is loaded with the butts both ways on the trailer to keep the load level and to assure a full payload since the delimbed trees are short.  Mills that will take the wood loaded both ways really help the logger to maximize the ability to get full payloads in first thinnings.

 



 

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Offline Raider Bill

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2009, 09:48:12 AM »
CAn I borrow them things?
Looking at that I see I have a long way to go with my trees.

Great Job!
The First 60 years of childhood is always the hardest.

Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 09:49:06 AM »
Thanks Don.  This logger is one of the best in the South at doing this.  He has a 3 man crew that produces 10 - 12 loads per day.  It pays to deal with the best.

This plantation is so clean because it was established on an old pasture.  However, good site preparation is key.  This pasture was subsoil ripped down to 20" and the young trees were sprayed with herbicide to control the pasture grass.  The trees really grew like gangbusters ;D.  Here is a pic of a stump of one of the dominant trees that was removed.  In one of the early years, there was up to 2" of diamater growth  8).

 

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Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2009, 09:51:31 AM »
Raider, let me know when you need some harvesting done and we will load up and come to Tennessee  ;D.
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Offline Sprucegum

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2009, 09:53:04 AM »
Thanks WDH great tutorial  8)

I am surprised that flail doesn't take a lot of wood with the bark/limbs.

Offline Don K

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2009, 09:57:09 AM »
Danny, I can see from the growth rings that they really took off. They will do that again now with the open crown. you are on your way to a fine stand of quaility poles and sawlogs. ;D ;D

Don
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Offline Raider Bill

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2009, 10:02:13 AM »
My 35 acres of loblolly pine was planted by bowater but not in rows like yours. To me they seem to be pretty bunched in.

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Offline pineywoods

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2009, 10:02:36 AM »
Looks exactly like it's done here in north louisiana. Even the equipment is pretty much the same. I use a local crew owned by 3 brothers, all third generation loggers. They know their stuff..
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Offline Magicman

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2009, 11:54:26 AM »
I'm wondering what my growth rings look like.  I planted in '05 and now have 6" trees.  They've grown 3' to 5' in height this year.  I know for sawlogs, they frown on wide growth rings.
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Offline stonebroke

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2009, 05:29:26 PM »
Now are you going to prune what's left?

Stonebroke

Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2009, 05:34:58 PM »
Stonebroke,

I have done some pruning in the past as this is standard practice for my company that I work for, so I am very familiar with it.  I am considering it.  It cost about $125 per acre to do this, so the investment is not insignificant. 
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Offline barbender

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2009, 10:51:53 PM »
WDH, what outfit did your thinning? Looks like a real nice job. I visited Georgia a few years ago, I was surprised at the amount of logging you folks have going on down there. Definately different methods, you rarely see a flail delimber up here for instance. Most wood up here moves either 100" or tree length.
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Offline fishpharmer

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2009, 11:32:09 PM »
WDH, did you get any return on the cut wood?  Or is thinning a total expense? 
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Offline Meadows Miller

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2009, 09:48:56 AM »
Gday

Nice Block of pine you have there for 12yo Wdh 8)  8) and you have a good crew on the job aswell which makes all the difference Mate  ;)

We've had Limbarkers downunder since about 90/91 Morbark Aust built acouple of the first ones for a contractor running their largest chiparvestors  infeld that was sending export chip strait from the block they where getting under .0025% bark content using them inline with the chipper   ;)

What sort of rotation are you getting out of your pine plantations overthere mate as it looks like your's runn alot like we do downunder usualy T1 @ 12 to 15 yo pulp n post material at about 100 ton to the acre  ,T2 @ 20 to 22yo 60 ton+ sawlog and about 50 ton of pulp and clearfell at 30 to 35 yo at about 250 to 300 ton sawlog and 30 to 60 ton of pulpwood to the acre and a avv dbh of about 22" to 30" dia  ;)

Good Unthinned blocks downhere runn at about the 300 to 400 ton to the acre at the 30 to 40 yo mark  we have huge areas of unthined private plantations around here that had the att they needed  ::) i pay around the $5 to $10 a ton mark for unthinned clearfell  depending on the quality of the block  ;)

James with the return on T1 down here its basicly at cost recovery to get stand improvement  you usually hear around the $0.50 cents a ton figure for pulp in general Mate


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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2009, 08:03:32 PM »
Well Done!
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Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2009, 08:39:06 PM »
Barbender,

The logging company is Edwards Timber.  In fact, when I managed procurement for the pulpmill here (which I did up to about 8 years ago), we had 40 crews logging for us.  This is one of the crews that we helped start up, and it is satisfying to see them prosper.  The only issue that I have had in the past is that none of the crews wanted to be the one to cut my timber because they were concerned that they could not meet my high expectations :D.

MM,

That rotation you described is spot on!  That is exactly my plan with this stand and the others that I have that are younger and older.  However, our site productivity, while about the best in North America, is nowhere near as good as what I saw in Australia.  I had the opportunity to benchmark logging in Australia and New Zealand as part of my job, and if y'all are interested, I can post some pics of what I found.  There is one memorable tract that I vividly remember right near the coast just south of MT Gambier that was incredible.  Your productivity for pine (introduced radiata pine) is among the best in the world.  The large scale logging there is also in the same class as the best in Brazil.  (BTW, I love your Country!  The meat pies we had in Tumut were wonderful  ;D).

Sprucegum,

There is a little wood loss with the flail.  The more you leave the top of the tree in the flail, the more the chains beat the DanG out of it, and the more breakage and wood loss you experience.  These guys do this day in and day out, and they have the process perfected.  I believe that I have a pic that shows the results to the flail, and if so, I will post it.

FF,

So far 32 acres have been cut.  Volume removed was 26.5 tons per acre.  The stumpage price (what I receive from the Mill) is $8.75/ton.  Return to me is $232/acre.  So, it is not a fortune, but it more than paid for all the cost to site prepare and plant the stand, so I am in the black at this point  8).
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Offline Mooseherder

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2009, 08:51:18 PM »
I would love to see your Ponderosa one day WDH. :)
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Offline WDH

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Re: First Thinning a Pine Plantation in the South
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2009, 09:30:40 PM »
That is a fine idea, and bring one of the DanG hams  :D :D.  I will pass on the chicken feet :).

Surely you drive up I-75 on some of your excursions.  I am only 10 miles from I-75, so it is easy to get here. 
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