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Author Topic: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?  (Read 5113 times)

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Offline JOE.G

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Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« on: December 30, 2012, 03:07:55 PM »
Just wondering what makes wood old growth? What makes it new? I always hear how Old Growth is better, I am logging some of my Property, I do sections every winter and I always hear how the Lumber that come off my Property is Real nice, this goes for the soft and hard woods.

I know some of this Property has never been touched ( At least in the last 60 Years )and I know some of it was farm land pastures many many years ago.

So I was just wondering how many years does it take to make a tree called Old Growth.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2012, 03:12:53 PM »
Good questions Joe. And a definitive answer will be mostly in the mind or the imagination of the beholder.

Wood is wood, for the most part.
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Offline KBforester

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2012, 03:43:38 PM »
There is no clear definition. Different people and organizations site different specs. I'd argue it really depends on the forest type. Some people say its anything older than 80 years old, some people think it is a lot older.

Old growth is "better" because it usually grows more slowly, with lots of competition to make it straighter, with less knots. But you could have a gnarled POS yard tree thats 400 years old. I don't think age is a very good indicator of anything.

Even environmentalists aren't really talking about age when they mention old growth, they are talking about height and diameter.

If you see unusually large trees for your area, and that species, you might have something special.
Trees are good.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2012, 04:59:48 PM »
Agree, it's a vague term.

What I would suggest is that you need trees that grew in an already established forest. These tend to be forced to grow tall and straight to reach the light. They shed their lower branches early, so all the wood they lay down in the trunks is straight grained and clear.

Some forests never really become "old growth" because they are shorter lived trees, or they burn regularly and regenerate from relatively clear ground again.  Others, especially the  "temperate rainforests" , like the Pacific Nth West or here in NZ you have VERY long lived trees in a stable forest system.

A Redwood or Kauri pine grown in open conditions, or even a "young" forest is a very different tree to one that germinated in a established forest.  But it might take several hundred years for those conditions to develop, then several more centuries for mature "old growth" to mature. But we are talking tress that could live for 1,000 years. This is why there is so little of the "undisturbed" forest left.  Even if it's properly managed, the forest dynamics are changed. Younger trees, grown faster in more open conditions, and that shows in the wood produced.  So Douglas Fir grown on a plantation here in NZ is a very different wood to what would be sawn from a 500 year old tree in it's natural home.

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Offline Jay C. White Cloud

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2012, 05:14:04 PM »
Hi Joe.G,

I was a zoology major in college, with one minor in botany, (never finished, went Marine, and never looked back,) so what I'm about to write is from a zoology perspective, influenced by 40 mixed years in the bush.  Some of this is book stuff, some observation.

"Old Growth," has come to mean many things, as KBforester and Ian pointed out, there are different definitions/names for what ecologist/biologist would call: undisturbed success or multi-generational forest biomes....and it rambles on from there.  In a nut shell, if the tree grew in a forest that has not been disturb by a major geologic, fire, climatic event or biological collapse, (that is were man or other vectors play in the most,) and the trees can reach mature ages (200 to 800 years depending on species, and location) then you have: "old growth wood."

Not all old growth is good wood, some species do better young than old, such as Red and Black oaks, and perhaps a few more of the genus Quercus, as an example.  Different regions of the world can have older or younger, "old growth forest."  Some may only be two hundred to three hundred years, while others, like in parts of Asian, are measured in millenia.  You probable have some really nice "mature trees," but it is doubtful if they would fall in the category of "old growth,"  That being said, you can find relics, that slipped by the ax or saw.

Regards,

Jay
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2012, 05:21:30 PM »
I guess if the tree you find is still standing, yes it indeed slipped by the axe or the saw.

Bottom line, wood is still wood.  ;D
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2012, 05:24:30 PM »
I still have some old trees. My father was born in 1923 and it was never logged that he could remember. Yes,they cut some wood for logs,but with him and his Father cutting they never put a dent in it. I did have alot of white pine. My Father and me started to log it until his death. Some of the white pine was starting to get red rot. It was time for them to be cut. Those were 80 years old easy. We cut some hard wood,just about the same age.Old growth? I have no idea. Trees old,yes there were and are. There was some good size trees on our land.
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Offline 1270d

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2012, 05:46:13 PM »
I always took old growth to mean the area had never been logged.  Which here in the UP is almost nowhere.   The second growth would come up after the first cut.  For example, a lot of the forest I cut in is second and third growth.  The big prime "old growth" stuff was cut early to middle 1900s. Then the leftover pine and hardwoods were cut.  Now im cutting what was left and the regen.

In a hardwood thinning this is a real grey area.

Offline Jay C. White Cloud

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 05:50:15 PM »
Hi thecfarm,

Those could very well be the "relic," I referenced.  It is important that you pointed out that the old pines were starting to get red rot.  From a forest production perspective, old growth forest are not always that productive or, in many cases, the wood isn't that good. I would also note, that a forest can come down by other means than logging.

Our modern logger, forester and sawyer, are doing a lot of good for our forest through there activities.  Writing purely as a scientist, I find old growth forest fascinating and glad we have/are trying to preserve the few special ones we have left.  That said, I think to many of the "greenies," I tend to hang around don't even begin to understand the real relationship man could/should have with his environment.

I remember the research that came out of the archaeology field a few years back, stating they found evidence of my ancestors burning huge tracks of land all through modern day New England.  Why would they do this?  Well where do you think the Eastern Bison, and Elk lived.  Now, here is a culture of people, living in direct contact with their environment, managing it for their perceived needs.  Did they burn all of it? No, but they did live in it and as part of it.  If we, as foresters/loggers/sawyers tried to clear cut twenty or thirty thousand acres of, what is becoming over-grown New England forest of today, people wood have an absolute fit.  It is funny how man can change his understanding of the world he is part of, in just a few hundred years. 

If I was lucky enough to have a large forest with some of these old relics, (I did have some white pine over 200 years, I cut them down immediately, except for a few I'm saving,) they would be slated for removal and replanting, unless I found some reason not to, because that is what is best for the forest I'm part of.

Regards,

Jay
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 05:56:23 PM »
Jay,I tell the "green" people if we don't cut it,Mother Nature will. That's how it is in my Little World,all 150 acres.  ;) It's nice to walk in the areas that have not been cut yet. But I can tell it is time to do something.
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Offline Jay C. White Cloud

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 06:37:22 PM »
Quote
I tell the "green" people if we don't cut it,Mother Nature will.


That is great, I like that one.  :D They just don't seem to get that?  They so often think they are doing the world good or are being a "real" part of the environment by their many misguided actions.  It's frustrating "straddling the fence," on so many of these issues for me.  I must admit, most loggers I know would not want to be alive if they didn't have a forest to be working in. I just don't understand why some folks think we are doing something bad.
"To posses an open mind, is to hold a key to many doors, and the ability to created doors where there were none before."

"When it is all said and done, they will have said they did it themselves."-teams response under a good leader.

Offline JOE.G

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 06:41:25 PM »
I cut sections of my land every winter Like i stated, i do this because I am trying to keep it healthy ( Of course the money doesn't hurt either ) I tend to have the same guy back every year, but I have had other do some cutting along with what I cut, they all seem to like the wood on my property, the soft wood goes to my buddies lumber yard/mill and he say's that is it is top notch wood, the hard goes off to another yard. I was just wondering, The loggers i have had in he don't think it has ever been cut before so I just wasn't sure if that was the reason for the quality wood,
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 06:53:54 PM »
Joe
Any idea how a logger can take a tree and decide from that tree (or the lot of those cut) and determine that there had never been a previous cut before? 

I don't think that this can be determined for any degree of certainty.
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Offline Maine372

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 07:30:45 PM »
to determine if an area has been cut before you can look for several things. machine tracks, stumps from previous harvests, tree bottoms damaged from skidding. looking at the growth rings you can see rings get smaller as the tree was crowded. if they suddenly increase in size you might be seeing the increase in growth when a harvest opened up more growing room.

Offline lumberjack48

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 07:47:08 PM »
  We call-em first growth, we ran in to a big White Pine once in awhile. These were trees that were missed by the early loggers. By the spider web of railroads that covered the Chippewa National Forest in the early 1900's. 40 yrs ago i cut a lot of first growth poplar, average about 36" on the stump.
  The biggest White Pine i cut cut was on a hill by Lost Lake. I remember measuring the butt at 72"s, but i might have been cheating a little bit. I cut the butt cut 12' long, my dads C5-D would barley pull it. It was to big to winch off the ground or the skidder was to low, i had to drag it.
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Offline lumberjack48

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2012, 07:54:04 PM »
Heres the only reason we have a Chippewa National Forest here in MN.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/novdec04/chippewanf.html
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2012, 09:42:52 PM »
Beenthere pretty easy on my land,no stumps.  ;) I keep saying I'm going to look at the tax map and count up the acres My Grandparents owned,I guess at 1000 acres.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2012, 10:07:02 PM »
 
How long do you think stumps will stick around?  ;)
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2012, 10:11:25 PM »
A 3 foot hemlock stump or a 3 foot white pine,many-many years. You don't get trees 3 feet across by going in and cutting them every 5-10 years.  :( Some of the ones we was cutting was heading toward 4 feet.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Old and New Growth wood,What makes it old and what makes it new?
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2012, 10:15:32 PM »
My understanding is that there are very very few acres of timber in the Eastern US that are "virgin", never cut before.  Very very few. 
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