Pine trees growth rate

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ANDY JACKSON/STUFF The logging boom is expected to last until at least the mid 2020s.

You may not realise the country is in the midst of a logging boom but it’s hard to miss in a small province like Taranaki.

Logging trucks roar through the coastal city of New Plymouth every few minutes and stacks of thousands of logs dominate the wharves and storage areas of the city’s port.

Across the region huge tracts of forest seem to be felled overnight, their former uniform green now a mess of twisted branches and churned-up mud.

It’s a similar story across the country as forestry blocks are harvested and the logs exported.

* One Billion Trees: Labour challenge for the forestry industry
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* $400 a day to plant trees but no-one wants the job

Logging is a big deal in New Zealand. It is our third largest industry after dairy and meat, with export revenue expected to reach $6.8 billion by the end of June 2019.
There are 1.7 million hectares of plantation forestry in the country. That’s about the same area as 10 Stewart Islands, or twice as big as the Greater Wellington Region.

About 90 per cent of these plantations consist of the fast growing radiata pine and the average age at harvest is 28 years. Despite the present boom in logging, most plantations are relatively young with nearly two thirds less than 16 years old.

So, if you thought logging was busy now, it will increase substantially in the next decade.

The current boom, which is creating thousands of jobs, generating billions in foreign exchange and ultimately helping China meet its colossal infrastructural requirements, has its seed in work done decades ago.

In the early 1990s millions of pine seedlings were planted across the country. It was and is backbreaking work.

Earlier this year the industry was struggling to find workers for the next round of planting that will help the government’s One BIllion Tree project.

Supplied New Zealand Forestry Ltd director Cam Eyre says more workers are needed for the logging boom.

NZ Forestry director Cam Eyre acknowledges it’s a problem finding workers, but it’s a “glass half full” problem, he says.

“The problem is not as big as everyone is making out. We have trouble getting workers, but the work has significantly increased. It’s a big boom, so we need more workers – everything has increased.”

Pay rates in the North Island are reportedly up to 60c a tree, or up to $400 a day if workers plant a tree a minute over 10 hours. However, other say workers plant 600 trees a day on average for between 18 to 25c a tree – a maximum of $120 a day.

Eyre admits it’s hard work.

“But it’s good if you’re fit. If you go from sitting on the couch to planting it’s a bit hard, but once you’re fit…”

MARION VAN DIJK/STUFF There’s good money to be made planting pine seedlings, but it’s back breaking work.

Over the life of the tree it sometimes gets pruned at various stages, because at the moment a well pruned stand of trees is worth more.

But sometimes that isn’t the case, Eyre says. And not all trees are pruned.

Exactly how old the trees are before they are harvested depended on a range of things. Including whether or not there was enough people to move the trees.

There is a shortage of workers both to harvest the trees and drive the trucks, Sole Logging Ltd manager Allan Sole says.

“It’s difficult to find reliable, experienced forestry workers in Taranaki. Other regions are also struggling.”

It is hard to say exactly how many staff they have taken on because of the boom, Sole says, because it has been quite a gradual process for them and they have always struggled to find enough workers to keep up with their work load.

After the trees are harvested there is the issue of what is called slash – left over bits of timber and branches. Last June forestry slash was washed down hills in Tolaga Bay, north of Gisborne, taking out houses, damaging bridges and killing stock as it went.

Braden Fastier Slash waste from forestry plantations can cause havoc if it ends up in waterways.

Not all regions are susceptible to this happening, because of different geography, but it is an issue the forestry industry are looking at.

As well as being physically hard work, often in isolated places with challenge access, working in a forest can be deadly dangerous.

For the seven years between 2011 and 2018 Worksafe figures show 39 people died in forestry work, compared to 132 who died on farms and 37 in construction.

But the numbers hide the actual risk. Based on fatality rates per 100,000 workers, forestry was more dangerous at 56.73 killed, followed by 13.44 for agriculture and 2.38 for construction.

Traditionally the forestry industry hasn’t had a very good reputation in regards to safety.

Eyre says forestry can’t compare itself to other industries. Instead it needs to look at itself and work on improving its safety record. Which it is.

“We have improvements to make. We can’t be saying that we’ve got a great safety record when we have got improvements to make, but we are making improvements and that’s not recognised very well.”

While there are shonky operators, normally everything has to be well planned for it to go well, he says.

“If there is a problem in the forest it isn’t going to be a minor one – 8 to 10 tonne trees don’t ask a lot of questions. You just have to manage it.”

EMMA ALLEN/FAIRFAX NZ Forestry is a dangerous business and deaths are not uncommon.

After the trees are felled they are trucked out of the forest. As far as trucking goes there are two major concerns – one around safety on the roads and the other around the condition of the roads.

A lot of the back roads are in a terrible state and are very narrow, Sole says.

“This is concerning. A truck and trailer unit can often take up the whole road just by their size. Trying to negotiate tight corners or dangerous cambers of the road can also make it difficult to stay on their side.

“Truck drivers also must be careful how far they pull off to let cars pass because this can cause the soft edges of the road to give way which could result in a roll over.”

On a really busy day up to a maximum of 2000 tonnes could be moved out on his trucks, depending on cartage distance.

“On average this could equate to 900 to 1000 trees.”

To help mitigate the risk to other vehicles on the road, Sole tries to keep the public informed about being around loaded trucks.

“It can be very frightening and dangerous for a person coming the other way.”

ANDY JACKSON/STUFF Logging trucks are a common sight on Taranaki roads.

And logging trucks are causing havoc with the surface of the roads.

Because of the rural nature of the business, many small councils around the country are carrying the burden of having to maintain kilometres of roads that are being damaged by large trucks.

The Stratford district in Taranaki has a population of about 9000. During the first seven months of the 2018/19 financial year the Stratford District Council spent $600,000 extra on roading used by the forestry.

GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke says his district is sacrificing other projects to maintain its roads.

Stratford mayor Neil Volzke says there are moves at a national level, and Local Government New Zealand is also trying to find a way forward.

“We’re not unique. It’s a major issue and a major cost. It’s not easy to resolve. A problem is once the logging is complete and the road use drops off dramatically, roads we’ve spent a lot of money on will have hardly any use.

“It’s not an easy nut to crack.”

Stratford paid for fixing the roads by sacrificing other projects the council would like to do, he says.

“We’re looking at all options available to mitigate this.”

Logging had significantly increased the wear and tear on roads in his district, he says, especially in winter months when the roads were softer.

“A good portion of the roads the logging trucks travel are unsealed roads and therefore have increased road maintenance costs significantly. In some cases it’s not about maintenance, it’s major repairs to get the road back to a usable standard.”

Some of these remote roads are not used very often and are not built for heavy traffic, so are not fit for purpose.

“This level of (logging) activity could go on for another decade and probably beyond.”

SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF Logs piles dominate the wharves and storage areas of Port Taranaki.

Which, while not good news for a district struggling to maintain its roading, is good news for Port Taranaki.

And it’s not just Port Taranaki seeing a boost in profit thanks to logging exports.

The number of logs going through Gisborne’s Eastland Port is predicted to double to five million tonnes a year by 2024. And other ports such as Napier, Tauranga and Lyttelton are also experiencing a huge increase in the number of logs passing through.

Logging is boosting Port Taranaki’s income after its profit took a major hit due to outages and maintenance shutdowns in the oil and gas sector, and reduced demand for supplementary animal feed.

Right now the port is finalising arrangements to have logs brought to the port from Whanganui by rail, chief executive Guy Roper said in an emailed statement.

“And (we) believe this is important to alleviate truck movements on the region’s roads, help drive regional economic growth and support the wider region that Port Taranaki services.”

For the first half of the 2018-2019 year – July 1 to December 31, 2018 – log volumes were 425,000 JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) cubic metres. This was up 82,000 JAS or 24 per cent on the same period the previous year, with revenue increasing by 18 per cent and log vessel visits up 53 per cent.

The JAS is a global industry standard measurement of log volume. Its methodologies assess log diameter and length.

Port Taranaki is on track to again post a record year of growth, Roper said. And this is fuelled by logs.

“There remains large numbers of harvest-ready trees coming on-stream and demand remains strong, so we expect this increased trade to continue for the next five years. To accommodate this increase in trade, we have created more storage space on wharf at Blyde.”

SUE O’DOWD/Fairfax NZ Taranakpine chief executive Tom Boon says overseas demand has pushed up the price of logs for local supply.

And of the logs that stay in the region timber processor Taranakipine is the biggest purchaser – 120,000 tonnes per annum.

The increase in volume of available logs has meant Taranakipine can get the ideal product mix in terms of grades, but its not significantly increasing capacity, chief executive Tom Boon says.

“We don’t need to. We get enough wood for the finished products we make.”

Overseas demand has pushed up the price of logs.

“That’s good for the forest owner, which we support, but it’s not so good for us. Logs are the highest input cost in our business so the more we have to pay for logs impacts financially.

“But in general having a high log price is good for the industry. It’s good for the forest owners. It encourages them to replant and plant new trees.

“But we don’t like them too high.”

Taranakipine produces 1500 different engineered wood products, he says.

“All finished timber products are for the building industry. And 70 per cent of those products are exported.”

In the year ending June 30, 2018 New Zealand mills produced 4.5 million cubic metres of sawn timber.

And despite the increase in log exports over the past decade, volumes available to domestic processors grew to record levels in the 2017 calendar year.

Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand (WPMA) chief executive Jon Tanner says there is enough wood in New Zealand for our needs. Most of it goes to the building industry.

“But subsidies overseas are driving up prices and making it expensive in New Zealand.”

Trade Minister David Parker is running an enquiry into this, Tanner says. And spoke about it at the WPMA conference this month.

“It’s a serious trade issue. It’s unfair competition.”

Wood processing is very highly subsidised in other countries, such as China, despite them having free trade agreements with New Zealand.

And sometimes finished products, which have low prices because of the subsidies, are imported back into New Zealand, he says.

In 2018 60 per cent of total logs were exported.

Of the exported logs, 74 per cent went to China.

The most important use of New Zealand logs in China is the production of lumber and plywood for temporary construction, such as boxing for concrete.

Although some of this is recycled into low grade panel products, much of the timber that spent its first 27 years of life in New Zealand doesn’t last long once it gets to China and is burnt after use.

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Thinning Southern Pines—A Key to Greater Returns1

Chris Demers, Michael Andreu, Babe McGowan, Alan Long, and Jarek Nowak2

Many landowners plant pines with the intention of harvesting them at some point in the future. When pulpwood markets are favorable, a complete stand harvest within 15 to 20 years is possible and may bring an acceptable return. However, longer rotations can bring higher financial returns on larger diameter trees if landowners are willing to begin thinning their pine stands when trees are 10 to 15 years old. Pine sawtimber, poles, and/or plylogs are most often the forest products with the highest value and, if economic returns are a priority, the most desirable products to come out of a timber stand. Thinning is a partial tree harvest in an immature stand to maintain or accelerate diameter growth of the remaining trees. If it is done properly, thinning can bring substantially higher revenues when trees are harvested at 25 to 40 or more years of age. Trees will respond to thinning best if they are thinned before 16 or 17 years of age.

The increased diameter growth after thinning results from the greater availability of light, water, and nutrients to the remaining trees. Ideally, the best and biggest trees should be retained to assure the most rapid increase in timber value. For best results, thinning should favor the tallest, best-formed trees over those that are overtopped, crooked, forked, diseased or otherwise undesirable. Timberland owners who wish to harvest high-value sawtimber-, plylog-, or pole-sized products at the end of the rotation should consider thinning a necessity.

For the landowner, thinning can bring

  1. increased return on investment from the sale of higher-value forest products;

  2. periodic income from the multiple harvests that lead to those higher-value forest products;

  3. improved access for equipment, people, and wildlife;

  4. a healthy, vigorous forest with less risk of insect infestation, destructive fire, and wind damage; and

  5. enhanced wildlife habitat with increased herbaceous ground cover

Before describing specific methods of thinning, we will review the underlying concepts of stand density, crown position, and forest health. These will dictate if, when, and how to thin.

Stand Density

Stand density describes how much a site is being used by trees and how much the trees are competing with each other for the site’s resources (water, light, nutrients, space). At high densities, the growth rates of individual trees slow down because there are more trees competing for the site’s limited resources. Trees are usually thinned to achieve a particular density target.

Measures of Density

Trees per acre. In single-species, even-aged stands of known age, site quality, and history, the number of trees per acre is a useful measure of stand density. Typical densities in plantations range from 200 to 800 trees per acre.

Volume per acre. Because many management objectives relate to wood volume, it is often used as a measure of density. Stand volume is generally expressed as cubic feet (solid wood), board feet, or cords per acre. A cord is 128 cubic feet of stacked roundwood (whole or split, with or without bark) containing wood and airspace; an example of a cord is a stacked pile of firewood 4 ft high x 4 ft wide x 8 ft long. Tons per acre is a weight measure that is derived from volume. Tons is the unit of measure most commonly used to buy or sell wood.

Basal Area. Basal area is a measure of stand density developed by foresters. It is the total cross-sectional area of tree stems in a stand, at breast height (4.5 feet above the ground), measured in square feet per acre. Basal area (BA) of a single tree in square feet is calculated using the formula:

BA = 0.005454 x d2

Where: d = diameter (inches) of the tree at breast height (often abbreviated as “DBH”).

Tree Crown Position

Thinning reduces stand density by targeting trees belonging to different tree crown classes. (Tree crown is composed of all the live branches of the tree.) Each tree class is described by the vertical crown position of its members relative to trees of lower or higher classes. Most planted pine stands have an even-aged structure, which means there is little or no difference in the age of the trees. However, as an even-aged stand grows, the trees compete for site resources and begin to differentiate in height and diameter. As the level of tree competition increases over time, individual tree growth slows down. This growth deceleration happens at different rates for different trees due to genetic, microsite, and other differences. In the absence of thinning, the weakest and slowest-growing trees die and provide more room for larger and healthier neighbors. The variation in tree growth results in four distinct tree crown classes:

1. Dominant trees:

• crowns extend above the main tree canopy layer

  • crowns receive full sunlight from above and the sides

  • crowns are large and well-developed

  • characterized by large diameters and exceptional tree vigor

2. Codominant trees:

    • crowns form the main canopy layer

    • receive sunlight from above but are restricted at the sides

    • have medium-sized crowns and diameters

3. Intermediate trees:

    • crowns reach only to the lower part of the main canopy

    • receive sunlight from above only partially, if at all

    • have small, crowded crowns and small diameters

4. Overtopped (suppressed) trees:

    • crowns are entirely below the main canopy

    • receive no direct sunlight

    • are usually the smallest trees with poorly developed crowns

    • show very low vigor

Forest Health

Forest health is the focus of forest management and the purpose of thinning. The primary purpose of thinning is to remove poorly performing trees and leave a healthy, vigorous stand. A healthy forest produces more tons of valuable timber per acre resulting in more tons of higher quality wood available to sell. The various insects and diseases that affect pine stands in the South have evolved to exploit unhealthy, stagnated, or damaged trees that are stressed. Healthy pine stands resist damage from insects, disease and wind. If done early in the pines’ development, thinning is an important tool to prevent problems with insects, diseases, or other stresses such as wildlfire or strong winds. For a summary of the most troublesome insects diseases affecting southern pine species, see Key Plant, Key Pests: Pine Species at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep565.

Fusiform Rust

Fusiform rust is a native, fungus-caused disease that deforms and kills pines. Since the late 1950s, it has increased to epidemic proportions in slash and loblolly pine plantations throughout the South. This disease was first reported in the early 1900s and was neither widespread nor prevalent at that time. The spread of fusiform rust increased as the acreage of young, intensively managed pines increased across the South. The fungus causing fusiform rust is greatly favored in young, rapidly growing pine plantations of slash and loblolly pines, especially when established in high rust hazard areas and in close proximity to oaks, especially water oak, which are alternate hosts for the fungus. Oak abundance generally increases in areas where fire is absent. Most stems infected with fusiform rust disease should be removed in a thinning. Larger diameter stems with minor disease on branches can continue to have good growth rates and withstand high winds after thinning. If the stem infection rate of a stand exceeds 50%, the best option may be to clearcut and regenerate with genetically improved, rust-resistant pines. However, if there are at least 150–200 healthy, well-formed trees per acre, removing the diseased trees and retaining the healthy ones is usually the best option. If there is an abundance of red oak species, especially water oak, in surrounding stands, they should be reduced if possible. A professional forester can help you make appropriate management decisions to minimize or deal with problems associated with fusiform rust. More information about this disease can be found at http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Our-Forests/Forest-Health/Forest-Health-Publications.

Southern Pine Beetle

Southern pine beetles (SPB) are native, aggressive insects that live predominantly in the inner bark of pine trees. Trees attacked by SPB often have hundreds of light-colored, dime-sized resin masses (i.e., pitch tubes) on the outer tree bark. SPB feed on living bark tissues where they construct winding, S-shaped galleries on the inside of the bark, which can effectively girdle and kill a tree. In addition, SPB carry and introduce blue-stain fungi into trees. These fungi colonize the water-conducting tissue and can block water flow within the tree. Once SPB have successfully colonized a tree, the tree generally will not survive, regardless of control measures. An important way to prevent SPB infestations in pine stands is to maintain high tree vigor. This can be achieved by thinning dense stands to a basal area of 80 sq. ft. per acre or less to reinvigorate tree growth. More information about SPB and its control can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN333.

Cost-share assistance for thinning pine stands, prescribed fire and other treatments is available through the Florida Forest Service’s Southern Pine Beetle Assistance and Prevention Program: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/For-Landowners/Programs/Southern-Pine-Beetle-Prevention.

Annosum Root Rot

Loblolly and slash pine are particularly susceptible to this disease, which may be scattered through a stand or occur in pockets of dying or dead trees. Trees generally yellow and lose needles as they die from this disease, although they may just turn red in a short period of time. Dead trees gradually fall over from a loss of root support. Wind-blown fungus spores from nearby infection centers generally enter a stand by landing on freshly cut stumps or wounds during the colder months of the year. The stump and subsequent root infections spread to adjacent trees through root contact. The disease is most prevalent on well-drained sandy soils with higher pH, such as those found on old agricultural fields. Prevention measures include prescribed burning during winter months before thinning to eliminate the spore-producing conks, thinning in high hazard areas during summer, and treating freshly cut stumps with borax immediately after thinning. More information about this disease is at: https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Our-Forests/Forest-Health/Forest-Health-Publications.

When and How Much to Thin

Timing

The first thinning should take place shortly after the crowns of the trees start to close (tree branches of neighboring trees begin to touch each other). This is when diameter growth will begin to decrease due to the trees’ limited ability to capture sunlight, which is needed to produce the carbohydrates necessary for diameter and volume growth. An important indirect measure of a tree’s ability to capture sunlight is live crown ratio. Live crown ratio is the percentage of a tree’s height occupied by branches with green needles. In southern pines, optimum growth and vigor are maintained when the live crown makes up at least 40% of tree height (a live crown ratio of 40% or higher). Thinning is most beneficial for stand growth before the average live crown ratio falls below 40%.

Another factor that influences thinning decisions is the marketability of the removed trees. The first commercial thinning should remove pulpwood-size trees and perhaps some chip-and-saw-size trees, if they are poorly formed or diseased. Pulpwood logs must be at least 10.5 feet long and 2–3 inches in diameter at the small end; some local markets require larger log sizes. To meet these minimum specifications, trees must be about 16 feet tall and have an average DBH of at least 5 inches before they are cut. It may be necessary to thin smaller trees if the average live crown ratio of the stand is below 40% and trees do not grow at least 5% in diameter per year. With the demand for woody biomass on the rise in some regions for energy production, these trees may have a market. Otherwise, “pre-commercially” thinned trees are usually left on the ground to decompose. In this case, thinning should be regarded as an investment in the quality of the stand for the future, when final harvest returns may justify the operation.

Thinning Intensity

The number of trees to remove depends on the initial stand density, site quality, and management objectives. For timber objectives, a thinning should reduce stand density to a level that maximizes individual tree growth without sacrificing full utility of the site. Density and stocking should be approached from the quality of the residual stand first; and second, the density of the residual stand. Depending on the site, the density and quality of the trees in the stand you are working with, and your management objectives, the residual basal area after the first thinning will usually fall between 45 to 85 square feet per acre of the very best trees capable of producing a higher-value product. These will be the healthiest, best-formed trees in the dominant and co-dominant crown classes. A suggested rule of thumb is to use basal area as a result, not a target. Basal area does not take into account the age of the stand, site productivity, and tree health and quality. Focus growth on the best trees in the stand and the basal area will follow.

Thinning, especially when followed by prescribed fire, can be great for wildlife habitat. Thinning allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor, encouraging the growth of herbaceous plants and shrubs, which provide food and cover for many upland wildlife species in the southeast. Subsequent thinnings and a prescribed fire regime during the rotation will promote an open tree canopy, diverse groundcover, and productive wildlife habitat. See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw132 for more information on the effects of fire on wildlife habitat.

How to Thin

Most producers use a combination of thinning methods to reach economic and/or wildlife habitat objectives. No matter which thinning method you choose, avoid thinning during times of drought or extreme wet weather to prevent damage to the site, and take care not to damage residual trees during logging. When trees do become damaged (frequently, for instance, the “bumper” or “turning” trees at the ends of thinned rows suffer some damage), they should be removed at the end of the logging operation. Landowners are encouraged to consult with or hire a professional forester to assist with thinning and other forest management activities. See http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr125 for tips on selecting a consulting forester.

Combine Row and Selection Thinning

Although most discussions about thinning southern pines are about which rows to thin, the focus should be on what comes out of the remaining rows. Modern equipment, though large, is capable of taking out trees in the rows between cut rows, as in a 5th or 7th row thinning. Generally, the further apart the cut rows, the better. Think of the cut rows as access for the harvester to cut selected trees out of the remaining rows. It is best to remove trees based on selection thinning from fewer cut rows rather than taking out every 3rd or 4th row. The first thinning is the most important thinning and sets the growth rate for the rest of the rotation. Properly executed thinnings consistently produce higher valued products, and thus more revenue. In addition to revenue goals, thinning greatly enhances wildlife habitat by providing light needed for important food plants to grow. Removing every 3rd or 4th row is essentially clearcutting 33% or 25% of the stand without regard to quality, and leaves only 66% or 75% of the stand to select from. Unless there is excessive disease or extreme variabity in density (see fusiform rust guidelines above), this should be avoided. Leaving the trees distributed over a larger portion of the stand can be much more profitable in the long term because you can select your best trees to grow into larger, more valuable products.

The premise for thinning is simply to take out the poor trees and leave the healthy crop trees for potential future harvest. Trees that are diseased, crooked, forked, suppressed or otherwise of poor quality or health should be removed in the first thinning. For best results, hire a professional forester to mark every thinning. If marking is not feasible for some reason, closely supervise each thinning, but especially the first, to ensure contractual guidelines are followed. Do not assume the logger or harvester operator will leave the trees most appropriate for the long-term health and productivity of the stand. For information about the potential benefits of marking the first thinning, see Marking First Thinnings in Pine Plantations: Potential for Increased Economic Returns, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr410.

Conclusion

Thinning is an important silvicultural practice that redistributes the growth potential of the site to the best trees. Diameter growth rates are maintained or increased on residual trees after thinning, which increases the return on investment from higher-value trees. Biologically, thinning accelerates stand development by favoring the tallest, best-formed trees over those that are diseased, overtopped, crooked, forked, or otherwise undesirable and likely to die on their own if left in the stand long enough. In addition, thinning provides periodic income, improves access for equipment, recreation and hunting, and creates a generally healthier stand. Thinning is also beneficial for wildlife, especially when combined with prescribed fire or herbicide use to control competing vegetation. By allowing more light to reach the forest floor, thinning promotes growth of plants important as food and/or cover for wildlife species. Landowners are encouraged to consult with or hire a professional forester to assist with thinning and other forest management activities.

Davis, L.S. and K. N. Johnson. 1987. Forest Management. McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., NY. 790 pp.

Harrington, T. B. 2001. “Silvicultural basis for thinning southern pines: concepts and expected responses.” Georgia Forestry Commission, Report #FSP001. 13 p.

Gomez, D. F. and J. Hulcr. 2019. “Southern Pine Beetle, Zimmermann (Insecta: Coleoptera: Scolytidae).” EENY-176 Entomology and Nematology Department, Gainesville: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Schmidt, R. A. 1998. Rust Disease of Southern Pines: Biology, Ecology and Management. Bul. 903. School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville. 8 pp.

Footnotes

This document is SS FOR24, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2005. Revised July 2013, March 2016, and May 2019. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

Chris Demers, Extension program manager; Michael Andreu, associate professor, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Babe McGowan, consulting forester, McGowan Forestry Services; Alan Long, emeritus professor, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Jarek Nowak, Florida Forest Service; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Yellow Pine Tree Facts

Yellow pine is a coniferous evergreen tree, native to the forests of northeastern United States. Its scientific name Pinus rigida, means rigid, referring to the stiff pine cone scales and needles. Also, it produces pine pitch, a sticky, resinous sap that oozes from the tree, especially from wounds; hence its alternate name, the pitch pine. During the time of wooden ships, it was used in the production of heavy sailing vessels.

Description

The leaves of yellow pine trees are long, thin evergreen needles that range from 3 to 5 inches long. The needles tend to twist slightly and grow in sets of three. The color is green to yellowish-green. The plant has male and female flowers. The male flowers produce pollen only and form in large yellow clusters at the tips of branches. The female flowers develop into prickly, ovoid cones between 2 and 4 inches long with alternating scales radiating from a central stem. Each scale holds a seed. The bark is grayish-brown, and forms plates that will flake from the tree. The wood has a yellowish look. which is the source of the name yellow pine.

Growth Habits

Yellow pine growd well in hardiness zone 4 in northeastern forests. The tree is slow-growing when young, then faster-growing as it matures, adding more that 2 feet per year of new growth in good conditions. The trunk is usually tall, slender and straight, with branches radiating from it toward the top of the tree. Lower branches tend to die as the tree matures, leaving the bottom half of the trunk bare. The pine cones are often persistent and can remain on the tree for years.

Form

The form of the tree can vary. In poor conditions, the tree may be stunted and poorly formed. The tall upright character of the tree is more typical and it can grow to 90 fee tall and to 50 feet wide in optimal conditions. The shape is a tall pyramid on top of a tall, slender post-like trunk. The canopy is open and airy.

Culture

Yellow pine is usually found in moister, more humid forest environments, although it does grow in areas where drier conditions prevail. It is commonly found in less fertile and shallow soils, including sandy or gravelly soils. It also prefers more acidic soils. The tree may be difficult to cultivate and should be propagated from seedlings.

Uses

As a timber tree, yellow pine is generally very knotty and inferior to other pines and is more frequently used for framing lumber, railroad ties, crates and fencing. It can also serve as a source of pulpwood. Yellow pine also serves as food for wildlife. The seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals and white-tailed deer and rabbit browse on the young leaves and seedlings.

Pine Wood: An Overall Guide

by Eric Meier

Pine is pine, right? Not quite. There’s quite a range in density and strength when it comes to the Pinus genus. Take one of the species of southern yellow pine, Shortleaf Pine, for instance: it has strength properties that are roughly equivalent to Red Oak (with the notable exception of hardness)—and in some categories, such as compression strength parallel to the grain, the pine is actually stronger!

Yet there are also a lot of types of pine that are considerably weaker, and while they certainly have a prominent place in the construction industry, by using all species interchangeably with the generic name “pine,” we create a very inaccurate picture of this interesting wood genus!

It can help to know what you’ve really got, so let’s go over some of the key types of pine seen today:

The Soft Pines

This group is characterized by pines with a low density, even grain, and a gradual earlywood to latewood transition. Species within this group can’t be reliably separated from one another, but it can be helpful to recognize their features in order to distinguish them from the hard pines.There are three principal species of soft pine:

  • Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana)
  • Western White Pine (Pinus monticola)
  • Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Of the three, Eastern White Pine tends to have the finest texture (i.e., smallest diameter tracheids) and the smallest resin canals. Sugar Pine, by contrast, has the coarsest texture and the largest resin canals. Western White Pine falls somewhere between the two previously mentioned species. All species weigh close to the same amount, with average dried weights ranging from 25 to 28 lbs/ft3.

The fourth species in the soft pine group, not nearly as commonly used:

  • Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

The Hard Pines

This group is somewhat opposite of the soft pines, not only in obvious areas of hardness and density, but also in regards to earlywood to latewood transition, and grain evenness. Hard pines in general tend to have a more abrupt transition from earlywood to latewood, and have an uneven grain appearance (though there can be certain species that are exceptions). Overall, average dried weights for hard pine species range from 28 to 42 lbs/ft3.

Subgroup A: Southern Yellow Pines

The major species in this group fit into the signature hard pine profile: they have the highest densities (between 36 to 42 lbs/ft3 average dried weight), very abrupt earlywood to latewood transitions, and are very uneven grained. All of the species in this grouping are essentially indistinguishable from one another—even under microscopic examination.The four major species of southern yellow pine are:

  • Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
  • Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti)
  • Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)
  • Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

Additionally, there are a number of other minor species that comprise southern yellow pine. These species are used much less frequently for lumber than the major species, and have slightly lower densities as well (from 32 to 36 lbs/ft3 on average). Some of the minor species of southern yellow pine are:

  • Sand Pine (Pinus clausa)
  • Spruce Pine (Pinus glabra)
  • Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens)
  • Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)
  • Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)
  • Pond Pine (Pinus serotina)

Finally, one additional species is commonly grown on plantations and is nearly identical to the four principal species of southern yellow pine listed above:

  • Caribbean Pine (Pinus caribaea)

Subgroup B: Western Yellow Pines

This grouping can be thought of as an intermediate position between the soft pines and the hard pines. Unlike southern yellow pines, this group doesn’t quite fit the bill of the usual characteristics of hard pines. Although the included species have relatively abrupt earlywood to latewood transitions, they tend to be lighter in weight, (average dried weights range from 28 to 29 lbs/ft3), and have a more even grain appearance. The two main species in this grouping are so similar in working characteristics that they are sold and marketed interchangeably. Construction lumber from this group is stamped with the initials PP-LP, representing the two species of western yellow pine:

  • Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta)
  • Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Although these two woods are difficult to distinguish from an anatomical standpoint, (Ponderosa Pine tends to have slightly larger resin canals), they can sometimes be separated by viewing the wood on a larger scale.

Ponderosa Pine trees typically have larger trunk diameters than Lodgepole Pine (two to four feet for Ponderosa versus one to two feet for Lodgepole). Accordingly, the wood of Ponderosa Pine usually furnishes wider, more knot-free wood, and has broader arcs in the growth rings when compared to Lodgepole Pine.

A third, much less common species is very closely related to Ponderosa Pine:

  • Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi)

Jeffrey Pine and Ponderosa Pine are anatomically indistinguishable, and no commercial distinction is made between the lumber of the two species—both are simply sold as Ponderosa Pine.

A few other miscellaneous yellow pines that are not quite “western,” but share many of the same traits as the species mentioned above are:

  • Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
  • Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata)

Jack Pine grows further east (and north), and is commonly mixed with various species of spruce, pine, and fir and stamped with the abbreviation SPF. Generally, dimpling on flatsawn surfaces will appear more subdued and less common in Jack Pine than in Lodgepole Pine.

Native to coastal California, today Radiata Pine is grown almost exclusively on plantations—most notably in Chile, Australia, and New Zealand. In the southern hemisphere, where true pines are essentially absent, it’s the most commonly cultivated pine, and is valued for its fast growth and utility—both as a source of construction lumber, as well as wood pulp in the paper industry.

Subgroup C: Red Pines

In the United States, this group is composed of only one species:

  • Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)

There’s also a couple of closely related species found in Europe:

  • Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Subgroup D: Pinyon Pines

Earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, narrow growth rings, numerous resin canals, increased weight, small diameter, interesting smell, seldom used for lumber.

  • Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)

Pinus ponderosa

by Jasleen Sidhu

Pinus ponderosa

The Pinus ponderosa, commonly known as the ponderosa pine or western yellow pine, is part of the Pinaceae family. It is a large crowned tree characterized by a straight trunk with branches present mostly on the top-half of the tree. On average, it grows to about 25-30 metres in height and has a diameter of 2 metres. The needles, which are dark green to yellowish-green in colour, grow in bundles of three. The needles are 12-28 cm long and have an elongated, narrow shape with pointed tips and sharp, toothed edges. The needles remain on the stem for about 3-4 years and most of them drop in the autumn months of September and October. The cones are oval shaped and are 7-14 cm long with a sharp thorn at the tips of the scales. On young trees, the bark is brownish black and has a rough, scaly texture. On mature trees, the bark is thick, deeply grooved and is an orange-brown colour. The bark also has flat, flaky plates. The tree has a fibrous root system but possesses a strong taproot. The long root makes the tree able to withstand strong winds and also enables the tree to access the moisture present in deep soil.

The ponderosa pine reproduces by producing seeds. The tree possesses both male and female reproductive structures called cones. The ponderosa pine is monoecious which means that female and male cones are both present on the same tree. The male cone produces pollen and fertilization occurs when the pollen comes into contact with an egg encased in the female cone.

The ponderosa pine is native to western Canada and USA. In Canada, it is found on the plateaus and slopes of the southern Interior of British Columbia. The ponderosa pine is a very robust tree that can endure a great assortment of climates. The tree is able to grow in a variety of soils from extremely dry habitats to very moist ones. Since it is able to grow relatively well in hot, dry sites, the ponderosa pine is considered drought tolerant. However, the tree prefers moist, well-drained soil for optimal growth. The tree also requires full sun and is not shade tolerant. Fires are a frequent occurrence in ponderosa pine forests and the thick bark is adapted to protect the tree from ground fires that can set alight fallen needles and dead grass.

Bark beetles pose a very dangerous threat to ponderosa pine trees. They can cause death to the tree by transferring a blue stain fungus. Their larvae is able to devour the phloem of the tree inhibiting the flow of nutrients. The Dwarf mistletoe plant is also very dangerous to the ponderosa pine. It is a parasitic plant that causes branch and stem deformation of the ponderosa pine. It forces its roots into the phloem of the host branch causing instability of the wood. This causes the tree to be susceptible to fungal infections and attacks by insects.

The ponderosa pine is used in a variety of different ways. The Aboriginal people of British Columbia used the seeds and inner bark of the tree as a source of food. The sap of the tree was used as a waterproofing agent for moccasins and other items. On occasion, they also mixed the sap with grease and used the mixture as a medical ointment for treatment of boils, backaches and inflammations of the body. The roots of the tree were used to make blue dye and the needles were used as an insulation material for underground storage pits. The wood was primarily used for making fence posts and to fabricate snowshoes. The logs of the tree were also used to make canoes.

Various forms of wildlife also significantly depend on the ponderosa pine. Mice, porcupines and other rodents use the bark as a nesting site. Furthermore, the pine needles are an important food source for blue and spruce grouses. Birds also use the tree for cover and nesting sites.

Since the ponderosa pine tree grows relatively fast and has the ability to firmly anchor in a variety of soils, the tree is often used to provide erosion control on rehabilitated sites due to its ability to act as a wind breaking species. However, the ponderosa pine’s most popular use in modern society is in the millwork industry where the lumber is used for various construction work. This includes using the wood to make doors, windows, cabinetry and furniture.

Overall, the ponderosa pine possesses a variety of structural elements that allow it to acclimate to a range of climates and environmental factors. The tree provided many uses to the Aboriginal people of British Columbia due to its durable, strong wood and soothing properties of its sap. Even today, the wood is extensively found in furniture and cabinetry. The tree also provides a nesting habitat for a variety of animals. However, pests such as bark beetles and dwarf mistletoe plants threaten to destroy the tree and eliminate the ecological and economic value that the ponderosa pine tree is able to provide. Therefore, more research into pest control should be conducted in order to preserve the ponderosa pine.

Munger, Thornton T. Western yellow pine in Oregon. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1917. Print.

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Pines

Source: GFC

Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

Loblolly pine is the leading commercial timber species in the southern United States. It is a medium to large tree 90-110 feet in height and 24 to 30 inches in diameter. The bole is long and cylindrical and the crown, though open, is denser than longleaf or slash pines. It can be found on a very wide variety of sites but make its best growth on those soils with deep surface layers having plenty of moisture but poor surface drainage, and fine textured subsoils. On favorable sites growth can be rapid. Loblolly is intolerant of shade, though not as much so as slash and longleaf pines. Loblolly is a major source of lumber and provides a large percentage of the wood pulp used for paper production in the South.

Georgia Giants: This mix of three of the fastest-growing, open-pollinated loblolly pine families in the southeast are expected to produce 71% more volume at age six; excellent rust resistance; good straightness. Recommended for Coastal Plain only. PRS Spec Sheet

Elite Straight Loblolly: This is a mix of three of the straightest, most fusiform rust resistant seedlings from our 3rd cycle selections. These seedlings, through field progeny testing, have proven to grow extremely straight, with very low incidence of rust. They also produce 53% more volume per acre at age six. PRS Spec Sheet

Select P3 Loblolly: Selected families from a third cycle piedmont orchard expected to produce more than twice as much volume at age six than unimproved loblolly with superb rust resistance. Recommended for north of the Fall Line. PRS Spec Sheet

Upper Coastal Plain Loblolly: Selected families from a third cycle orchard producing 51% more volume at age six with impressive rust resistance and good form characteristics. It is most suitable for the upper Coastal Plain region. PRS Spec Sheet
Lower Coastal Plain Loblolly: This third cycle loblolly variety is a small seed orchard mix of a few families that produces 64% more volume per acre at age six than local unimproved checklots. It is most suitable for the lower Coastal Plain region of Georgia. PRS Spec Sheet

Information About Pine Trees

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The 61 species of pine trees that grow throughout North America fall under the categories of soft pines and hard pines based on such characteristics as their wood and their needles. Pines grow in acidic soil and are often among the first tree to reforest an area after a fire. The pines are evergreen, retaining their needles through the cold, and the trees produce woody cones that harbor their seeds.

Size

The pine trees are some of the tallest trees in their ecosystems. The Eastern white pine and the red pine of the American East both can attain heights of 100 feet, and the slash pine of the Deep South is another species that can grow to that height. The pines that grow in the West can grow much taller, with some like the sugar pine known to approach 200 feet high and the Ponderosa pine able to make it around 180 feet. Not all pines are giants, with species such as limber pine and bristlecone pine rarely taller then 40 to 50 feet.

Identification

To identify pines it is important to examine such facets of the tree as its needles, cones and bark. For example, upon scrutiny, you would find that the Western yellow pine has needles that are 8 to 10 inches long and they exist in bundles of threes on the branches. The needles are light green with barely detectable serrations on their edges. The cones typically grow in pairs, are light brown and up to 4 inches long. The thick bark is a brown-black when the tree is mature, possesses a vanilla aroma when you peel it away and is full of furrows.

Geography

Look at the range maps of pines and you will discover that many types of pine trees have a large geographic distribution. These include species such as Ponderosa pine, jack pine, lodgepole pine, shortleaf pine and loblolly pine. Other pines grow in much smaller areas, with some like the foxtail pine and the bishop pine found only in specific parts of the West. Ponderosa pine has the largest range of an American pine, extending from Canada southward well into Mexico and covering vast parts of the western states.

Pine trees are a very important genus of trees in terms of their uses. Lumber and pulpwood are vital pine products, and pines are instrumental as telephone poles and in furniture. You may opt to plant pines on your property as windbreaks, specimen trees or as a tree to form a buffer between your property and a busy roadway. Pine trees are popular Christmas trees in many parts of the country, with the Virginia pine, Eastern white pine and Scotch pine all possessing traits that make them usable for this purpose.

Types

Cultivars of various pine trees are available for your landscaping needs. The Eastern white pine alone has many hybrids, including those like the UConn and the Contorta that grow much smaller than a typical Eastern white pine and make sense for smaller scenarios. The Don Smith cultivar of the red pine features the species trademark red-brown bark as well as long green needles. Yellow needles separate Wate’s Golden pine from the Virginia pines that grow in the wild.

Slash Pine Tree Facts: Tips On Planting Slash Pine Trees

What is a slash pine tree? This attractive evergreen tree, a type of yellow pine native to the southeastern United States, produces sturdy, strong wood, which makes it valuable for the area’s timber plantations and reforestation projects. Slash pine (Pinus elliottii) is known by a number of alternative names, including swamp pine, Cuban pine, yellow slash pine, southern pine and pitch pine. Read on for more slash pine tree information.

Slash Pine Tree Facts

Slash pine tree is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. It grows at a relatively fast rate, attaining about 14 to 24 inches of growth per year. This is a good-sized tree that reaches heights of 75 to 100 feet at maturity.

Slash pine is an attractive tree with a pyramidal, somewhat oval shape. The shiny, deep green needles, which are arranged in bunches that look a little like brooms, can reach lengths of up to 11 inches. The seeds, hidden in glossy brown cones, provide sustenance for a variety of wildlife, including wild turkeys and squirrels.

Planting Slash Pine Trees

Slash pine trees are generally planted in spring, when seedlings are easily found at greenhouses and nurseries. Growing a slash pine tree isn’t difficult, as the tree tolerates a variety of soils, including loam, acidic soil, sandy soil, and clay-based soil.

This tree tolerates wet conditions better than most pines, but it also withstands a certain amount of drought. However, it doesn’t do well in soil with a high pH level.

Slash pine trees need at least four hours of direct sunlight per day.

Fertilize newly planted trees using a slow-release, general-purpose fertilizer that won’t burn the sensitive roots. A regular balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 is fine once the tree is a couple years old.

Slash pine trees also benefit from a layer of mulch around the base, which keeps weeds in check and helps keep the soil evenly moist. Mulch should be replaced as it deteriorates or blows away.

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