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Author Topic: Is slow growth or fast growth better?  (Read 1527 times)

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Offline Lnewman

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Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« on: November 24, 2014, 05:35:31 PM »
I have spoken to several people and gotten 3 different answers to the following question.   Is hardwood more valuable when it grows slowly and has small spaces between rings or when it grows fast and has large spaces between rings?  Some say you want fast growth, some say slow and some say it doesnt matter.   
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Online beenthere

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2014, 06:05:44 PM »
It varies by species, so no single answer that I see.
"Better" is different when talking about different properties and aesthetics desired in a board... and again, depending on structural qualities vs. what you might want in a piece of furniture.
south central Wisconsin
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Offline red oaks lumber

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2014, 06:30:13 PM »
my take on that is northern hardwoods are slow growth, southern hardwoods would be fast growth
the experts think i do things wrong
 over 18 million b.f. processed and 7341 happy customers i disagree

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2014, 06:38:21 PM »
We have no mill up here pricing wood by ring count. If I sell slow grown black spruce, I get the same for faster growing white spruce. Goes by grade and length. It's just called spruce on any specs sheet I have seen. Hardwood goes by grade and I have not seen ring count on a spec sheet for it neither. Not saying there isn't a niche market somewhere, but you either have a market or not.
Move'n on.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2014, 07:42:36 PM »
I talked with a veneer buyer about fast grown walnut.  There are claims of fast grown walnut that can make 18" in 25 years.  His response was who would want it.

There also were some German buyers that bought some walnut veneer for high bucks.  All due to ring count. 

Its true that ring count isn't necessary from a grade standpoint.  But, when it comes to matching, its hard to do if you don't have similar ring counts.  Since hardwoods are grown for show, that ring count comes into play on some of the higher quality woods. 

Should you manage for slow growth?  Depends if you think you can get more at the market place or having more stems and less logging fits into your greenscape ideal for your property. 
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Puffergas

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2014, 02:02:16 AM »
People that buy sound wood (tone wood) tend to consider ring count.
Jeff
Somewhere 20 miles south of Lake Erie.

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Offline Lnewman

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2014, 12:49:34 PM »
Would this be a proper conclusion?

For low grade hardwoods, ring count (fast or slow growth) doesnt really matter.

For high grade and more valuable species, slow growth is generally preferred by buyers.

There are a few specialty buyers who want a certain ring count range
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2014, 01:02:59 PM »
about it
The Ranger, home of Texas Forestry

Online beenthere

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2014, 01:18:56 PM »
Keep in mind, for ring porous woods like oak and ash, that the faster growth yields higher density wood. 

For some other woods, faster growth means lower density wood.
south central Wisconsin
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Online Ianab

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2014, 01:53:44 PM »
Issue with managing for slow growth is that you have to get a LOT more for the logs.

If you wait 2X as long to harvest, you need to get maybe 4X the log value to make the same return. You have your investment tied up for twice the term, or more.

So fast growth and get 3 harvests in 100 years, or one? In the 3 harvest scenario you have your first return after 33 years and can re-invest that money. What if your Grandkids got to the 100 year harvest, and got the same price for the logs as you would for 33 year old logs?

Slow grown wood does have different characteristics of course. It's from an old mature tree, likely has shed all it's lower branches years ago, so is knot free and straight grained. Stable and predictable etc. Things like musical instruments etc I can see it being more desirable for sure.

But the economics of deliberately growing trees for it is marginal at best. 99% of wood use it wont matter, so you wont get any premium for the logs.
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2014, 01:59:46 PM »
Manage 80 acre tree farm in central Missouri and Mesquite timber and about a gozillion saguaros in Arizona.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2014, 05:35:57 AM »
Sorta, but veneer buyers up here don't look for ring count, just heart size. That being said, all our forest grown tolerant hardwood are very slow growing up here by default. ie. a 40" rock maple out in a stand is very old.
Move'n on.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2014, 05:45:33 AM »
Besides growing old growth per say, all it takes is a change in government and a whiny bunch of mil owners with licenses for wood volume who need wood and the old growth preserves are gone. On our crown land here, the mills do just that and the preserves from 30 years ago are fast dwindling. Some of these were deer yards. Also, changes in definition of riparian areas where timber is most often the oldest and sometimes (not always) bigger, means they shrink to. Again back to the mill.
Move'n on.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2014, 09:31:49 AM »
A few things that are being overlooked when talking about slow growth vs fast growth.  The only thing being considered is how fast you get fiber to the market.  Timber is not the only product of the forest.  In some instances, a green backdrop is also desirable, and gives more value to the land than does raising forest products.  There is also wildlife and plants that thrive more in the mature forests.  Although there isn't an economic return, there is an altruistic return that can't be measured in dollars.  Something to be said about walking through a forest of big trees vs walking through a forest of poles.

To get slow growth, you have to keep your density levels up.  In order to do that, you need more stems/acre.  You can do this as either even aged or uneven aged management.  Growth will slow down as crown expansion decreases.  However, this doesn't mean you have to do heavy thinnings to maintain growth levels.  Thinnings can become more subjective and lighter.  Instead of thinning down to a  BA of 70, you might thin to a BA of 100, for example.  You also extend your rotation time.  Crop trees also become more important, since you carry them for a longer period of time.

If you are maintaining your growth rate, even at a reduced level, you'll be doing it on a greater number of stems.  That means even if your growth rate is the same, it will be spread out.  Due to the way we measure growth, its hard to capture it numerically until you move from one diameter class to the next.  It happens, but it is harder to record.

The Germans have a system called Dauerwald.  You utilize what nature gives you.  You harvest about 1 tree per acre per year.  That keeps the forest in a constant state, and forces a lower impact type of logging.  CTL and small equipment is more the norm than large scale industrial equipment.  The cost of logging is higher, but site impact is lower. Unfortunately, most landowners are at the mercy of industrial markets to sell timber, and they use higher impact systems to keep costs low.  This type of management scheme would be suited best for slow growth management. 
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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2014, 01:58:55 PM »
True, there are other ways to manage a forest.

Local Rimu is always slow growth. I have one in my back garden, 10 year and it's reached ~2" dbh. And that's growing quickly  :D So at best you would plan for a 200 year crop rotation, with 3 or 400 for actual mature trees.

It's also heavily protected and can only be cut on a permit system. Obviously not a lot is cut. But a local guy is managing ~1,000 of bush, and harvesting 3 or 4 trees a year. Sawing on a site and lifting the wood by helicopter. Because of the size and value of the logs it's worth it. But there is no such thing as second of fast grown rimu.

Financially he would make more $$ with 50 acres of fast rotation pine. But then he wouldn't have the 1,000 acres really cool native forest to enjoy and care for, with the kiwi birds etc.
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Offline chain

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2014, 09:00:35 PM »
Would think site-index plays a major role. But where our timber is located in the Ozarks, north-side-best-side for best growth on oaks. West side best for pine, etc. Will leave this argument to you foresters!

So what about w/o stave logs, do they require more slow growth for premiums than say,  w/o tie-logs? We're hanging back with our w/o for a little while but it's time to sink or swim very soon. White oaks have reached about their limit and beginning to decline in certain areas.

Offline Lnewman

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2014, 06:53:47 PM »
It would seem from common sense and from some of the above comments that it would not be practical to manage for fast growth or slow growth.  The reason I asked the question initially was (a) for general background info, and (b) being in a valley with a steep north slope and a steep south slope, deciding where I should spend more time on timber stand improvement.
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Offline Lnewman

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2014, 06:59:18 PM »
A question for Mr. Weinrich.  Wouldnt that German system result is a beech maple forest?
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Is slow growth or fast growth better?
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2014, 08:46:44 PM »
It might.  We also have white oak and hemlock in the climax forest.  But, nothing says you can't put openings in your forest to promote other species.  Those openings would be smaller in scope, more like 1/4 acre plots.  Or you could work towards shelterwood improvement cutting to promote regeneration, and gradually reduce the overstory.  Its a lot more intensive type of management than what most landowners do in this country. 

I was on another forum before FF.  There was a German forester on the board that described the type of management they were doing in some areas.  They separated the forest in layers, and did different types of management in them.  The crop trees were white oak, and their target DBH was about 36".  Beech was also a crop tree, as European Beech is superior to American Beech, so I'm told.  That is the upper forest.  The middle forest was where they coppiced ironwood for fuelwood.  The lower forest was the shrub areas, and wasn't really used from a forest product standpoint. 

There was also a member on the site that made more money harvesting truffles than he could growing trees. 

When your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like a nail. 
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.


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