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Author Topic: What to plant in a northern New England open field  (Read 746 times)

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Offline PoginyHill

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What to plant in a northern New England open field
« on: March 25, 2020, 08:19:53 AM »
I have a lot of open field that once was hay field, but currently unproductive. I'm thinking of planting trees, and wondering what species (one or more) might be best to plant. The nearby soil currently has healthy white pine, white cedar, red spruce, maple, and balsam fir. I'm not interested in Christmas trees.
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2020, 10:05:06 AM »
Just curious why you consider it unproductive?

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2020, 10:29:40 AM »
Not being hayed and not much new tree growth. I bush-hogged it last year for the first time in 15 years or so. Lots of grass and woody brush.
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2020, 12:17:09 PM »
Not my back yard by any means, but open fields seemed scarce when I was up there, no market for hay locally ? I was just curious as New England is very different than here. I  will sit and watch the replies, in my neck of the woods there's almost no such thing as abandoned unproductive fields. Around here if it was more than a couple acres people would  try to cash rent it and raise corn, or bale the grass hay.

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2020, 12:48:07 PM »
Not my back yard by any means, but open fields seemed scarce when I was up there, no market for hay locally ? I was just curious as New England is very different than here. I  will sit and watch the replies, in my neck of the woods there's almost no such thing as abandoned unproductive fields. Around here if it was more than a couple acres people would  try to cash rent it and raise corn, or bale the grass hay.
Northern Vermont (specifically the "Northeast Kingdom") isn't a booming place. Dairy farming is scattered about, but diminishing. I do have about 20 acres or so that are hayed by a local farm. The fields in question haven't been hayed in decades and would likely require tilling and replanting to be considered good hay fields. Too much investment for most farms. Grazing land isn't in much demand.
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Offline GAB

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2020, 01:39:48 PM »
I believe the term "The Northeast Kingdom" was bestowed upon the area by former governor and later U. S. Senator George Aiken.
Not knowing the acreage involved it is hard to say what is best.
Have you considered growing barley for the beer industry, as it seems to be going great at this time.
I would want to have a buyer for the grain prior to planting.
Also the price for straw is higher than for hay nearest I can tell.
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Offline Clark

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2020, 02:23:16 PM »
I think youíre on the right path thinking about planting it to trees. There are many places in NE MN that have very low productivity hay fields and Iím not sure to what end either. 

There are a number of factors that go into deciding what species to plant. The only sure thing I would say is to plant multiple species. Around here even if you want a pine plantation it can be good to mix in all 3 species. This will give you options down the road. 

Youíre headed in the right direction looking at the neighboring forests as a guide for what trees to plant. There are so many variables you would be better off talking with a local forester. Someone who works for the State should be able to help you and it shouldnít cost much. 

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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2020, 04:22:55 PM »
What have been your traditional wood markets down there? Up here it has been spruce and fir for 200 years. Hardwoods are sold as pulp and firewood mostly here in New Brunswick. Hardwood sawlog and veneer volume is a trickle. Only one state between us (Maine) and they have the same markets for wood as I do. White pine has to be big trees for any decent money. But they cut fir ground every 40 years, it grows twice as fast as spruce if it is looked after and thinned every once in awhile.


2005 fir



2011 fir (thinned 2007)



2017 fir

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Offline Blue Noser

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2020, 05:32:36 AM »
White spruce (Picea glauca).

Offline clearcut

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2020, 06:57:48 AM »
In some parts of New England, Early Successional Habitat (ESH) is decreasing to the point where itís  impacting the population of neotropical migrating birds. Larger landownerships are being incentivized to maintain or even establish essentially this condition of occasionally mowed former hayfields. 

Poorer quality hayfields would be used as pasture, brush-hogged  occasionally, and left fallow for a few years. These fields are important sources of insects, seeds and nest sites. As the dairy industry has diminished, these hayfields are developing into young forest. Many grow houses, especially further south. 

The Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks, and Recreation with VT Audubon offer the Foresters for The Birds program. They offer technical assistance and demonstration forests. Cost share assistance has been available, but Iím not sure about the current status. 

So while your field is unproductive from a forest or farm perspective, it may be incredibly productive from a wildlife view. 

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2020, 07:44:38 AM »
"But they cut fir ground every 40 years, it grows twice as fast as spruce if it is looked after and thinned every once in awhile."

Thanks for the input. SwampDonkey, curious about your experience with butt rot and other afflictions of fir...Enjoy the pics by the way.
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Offline Southside

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2020, 08:25:34 AM »
A lot of effort went into opening up that ground at some point.  You can no-till or even frost seed in clover and then follow with timothy or other perennial grasses in a year or so, might need some lime or ash if there are any bio-mass plants still around, and for not much cost have that back into a productive hay field that will benefit both wildlife and give you an annual return on your investment.  

Edge habitat is so crucial to so many species.  I hate to see tillable ground go back into timber.  
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2020, 08:57:16 AM »
SwampDonkey, curious about your experience with butt rot and other afflictions of fir...Enjoy the pics by the way.
Wetter soils with poor drainage, suppression by over topping canopy, density. Space your best ground, don't waste time on suppressed old trees. A 50 year old suppressed tree can be 2-4" diameter with an umbrella top and growth less than 3"  on the leader. Junk, don't waste effort on them.
Move'n on.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2020, 08:23:57 PM »
Review the USDA Soil Survey for your county to determine the vegetative productivity for your field properties. Also review your field properties with your local Conservation District Forester for a determination.

Most of the reverted farm fields here have been planted to red pine as the valued timber species.
~Ron

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2020, 07:59:54 AM »
Thanks, Ron. Red pine plantations are common in the northeast - I had thought primarily because they are not prone to the white pine weevil. Slower growing and limited market compared to white pine, though??
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Offline barbender

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2020, 06:11:05 PM »
I think it's different in the NE, but in MN, MI and WI, Red pine is has provided the best return out of any plantation species for most landowners.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline chep

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2020, 08:21:50 PM »
Red pine scale is causing us to start harvesting most red pine stands. I've seen the damage myself in. Washington Vt.

Maybe not the best tree for the future? 

I think a Norway spruce, white pine and balsam fir mix would be good

Offline barbender

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2020, 10:02:21 PM »
If we had a red pine disease, it would be very bad news.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2020, 03:44:02 AM »
Red Pine here in New Brunswick is doing fine,  a few old fields planted 20-30 years ago mostly. We have a small market for dimension wood (one buyer) for it except hog fuel for power generation (one market) or large trees for poles (one market). Quite a bit going into pressure treated posts, decking and rails. The porch here has 6 x 6 PT posts and decking. The other porch is cedar decking, but pine posts. You can tell the pine pretty easy, big knots in whorls and 2 feet between them. Also wide rings on the post ends. :D The real money is large trees for poles. Most every modern telephone pole in the last 30 years up here is red pine. And they aren't any taller than 35 feet road side, 60 on corridors, but a lot of those corridors 60 years ago were made of steel towers, and sometimes a mix with wooden poles beside. Here a few years ago, a guy was running a chipper business and loved getting into those field red pine plantations because the green weight of red pine is pretty heavy and the power plant paid on tonnage, he thought he hit the big time. :D It's a tree I wouldn't plant a lot of because it's cheaper to ship spruce and fir logs 10 miles than it is to ship red pine 60 miles. Besides that it would be introduced on site that are spruce fir ground to begin with. The map may say red pine all over NB, but reality is a whole lot different. It grew on red soils with clay, or sandy soil on top of red clay in these parts. Where I live here there is no evidence red pine was here during settlement, but on the Tobique watershed you can find natural red pine stands to the NE of here. Just because you can grow it, doesn't make it a natural tree for that area.

I wouldn't grow Norway spruce here either, too much weevil damage, worst than white spruce. I have white spruce here by the house, the weevil don't touch it, no forks, just fat open grown trees down on an old barn site full of stones and ledge.  Someone planted a single Norway spruce  on the woodlot, the weevils found that one tree. That's enough for me to avoid them for planting stock. :D

Initial damage



Recovery



As long as that leader looks (~14"), I've got black spruce and fir growing faster in height. Why not grow the faster tree, especially a native one that grows in the area?
Move'n on.

Offline Tarm

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Re: What to plant in a northern New England open field
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2020, 10:16:08 PM »
Does anyone plant red spruce plantations?


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