Dairy Excel: See the potential for the trees: Managing all your farm’s crops

Nearly every farm, including dairy farms, has woods on the more distant or poorer ground. Since we don’t plant and harvest that crop every year, we generally don’t consider those trees as one of the crops to manage.

Granted, harvest occurs only every 30 or 50 years or maybe even once a generation. But when harvested, timber sales can yield significant income. Not only should farmers manage their crop of trees, they also need to do tax and asset management planning to integrate the forestry resource into the farm business.

Forestry management in the past involved fencing the Back 40 so cows couldn’t get into the woods. As dairy and other cows are increasingly confined and fewer of us heat our houses with wood, that wooded Back 40 has become “out of sight, out of mind.” Now that we no longer have to get the cows out of the woods for milking, find that cow that calved in the woods or cut wood to heat our homes, less attention is given to managing the woods.

Go back to school. New this year is a coordinated, state-wide offering of forestry classes and workshops. The sessions are conducted by the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, an effort of OSU Extension.

All sessions will begin at 9 a.m. with classroom instruction, but after lunch, teaching will be conducted in the forest and finish from 3-5 p.m., depending on questions and interest. Lunch is included with registration fees: $25 for one-day classes, $70 for three-day workshop.

* Tree Planting and Maintenance – a one-day class that will cover the types of tree planting stock and the methods of correctly planting them. Herbicides, as an integral part to the most tree planting management strategies, will be discussed in terms of appropriate application and the need for chemical specific licensing.

The class begins indoors with presentations on types of plantings, site and species selection and various preplant preparations. The afternoon portion is spent using various pieces of tree planting equipment.

Dates: April 5, Jackson Co., OSU Extension South District Office; April 12, Medina Co.

* Crop Trees: Release and Let Grow – a one-day class focusing on selecting desirable trees that meet landowner objectives, such as managing for timber, wildlife, aquatics and/or aesthetics.

Dates: April 6, Mt. Gilead; Nov. 6, Zaleski State Forest, Zaleski, Vinton Co.; Nov. 8, Bellefontaine.

* Woodland Owners Workshop – a three-day course for landowners who have some familiarity with their forest. Topics include forest management, forest measurement, tree identification, best management practices, tree planting, wildlife management and riparian forest buffers all these as related to tree and lumber quality.

Landowners are taken through exercises that show them the economics, taxation, pros and cons of different forestry management tactics.

Dates: April 17-19, Canter’s Cave 4-H Camp, Jackson; Sept. 11-13, Wapakoneta; Oct. 2-4, Geauga County.

* Exploring Your Forest – a one-day class for the novice woodland owner or manager. This class will also propose and assist students in determining which forestry management goals and strategies are most appropriate for their situation. Finally, the class will discuss the off-site implications of different forestry management techniques.

Dates: May 6, Dawes Arboretum, Licking Co.

* Name that Tree – a one-day in-depth tree identification class that teaches the process of tree identification. The book, Ohio Trees, will be provided to those who send an additional $10 when registering for the class.

Dates: May 17, Athens Co.; June 14, French Creek Nature Center, 4530 Colorado Avenue, Sheffield Lake, Lorain Co.

* Lumber from Your Woodlot – a one-day class with some emphasis on how to manage a woodlot for quality lumber, but with more emphasis on caring for wood after it is cut. Topics include: tree, log and lumber grades, including defects; care of logs and lumber; air and kiln drying; sawing techniques for different uses; directional felling; chain saw safety and tree and wood identification.

Dates: July 13, Wooster; Sept. 14, Ada, Hardin Co.; Dec. 7, Butler Co.

Registration information for all sessions is available by contacting the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program at 614-688-3421, or by mail at 210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH 43210.

Since registration deadline is a week and a half before each session, no refunds for cancellations will be made after that date.

(The author, an OSU Extension ag agent in Lorain County, is a member of OSU’s Dairy Excel team. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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