Trees Need Room To Grow
We are privileged to have thousands of pine plantations (planted pines) in our area. This is due to past tree planting incentives and/or also private investment.


I believe that we lose more tree volume due to lack of tree vigor than anything else. This leads to lower return on assets when trees are harvested and applies to planted pines as well as natural stands of trees.


Southern pine beetle outbreaks have been in epidemic proportions of our service area. The main reason for the serious impact is that the trees, in general were not vigorous enough to repel a beetle attack. Most trees attacked are older shortleaf and Virginia pine on poor sites. Infestations started in the weaker trees and then spread to adjacent ones, attacking both weak and healthy trees.


We need to maintain our trees in a healthy and vigorous growing condition. One of the ways to accomplish this is to selectively thin stands of trees and give the remaining trees room to grow.


In general, because of highly successful plantings in the past, many plantations are too thick. These plantations need to be thinned as soon as possible commercially to keep them from slowing their growth. Most pine plantations will need at least two thinnings prior to final harvest. A typical schedule for planted pines in our area would be to plan for the first thinning at 15 years old and the second at 20 years old.


All thinnings should be scheduled well ahead of actual need since a crowded stand will stagnate and become less vigorous. Market conditions and tree size will determine the time to sell.


I suggest you consult a professional forester to assist you well in advance of marketing your timber. Timely thinning of your trees is critical and should be done carefully.


Care should be taken to:
  1. Reduce the trees to correct density.
  2. Have cutting done under controlled conditions to ensure that the timber is cut with little if any damage to the soil and/or trees. Make sure you get the right person to thin your trees, and have a written contract to protect your interest.
  3. Market well in advance of any anticipated glut on the market.
  4. Seek professional tax advice in advance of any income-producing event. Trees, like any other crop, must have adequate room to grow and flourish.


Guy Thurmond,
Consulting Forester