As the missus and I sit and talk about our new homestead and the directions that we are thinking about taking it, one problem keeps coming up: the old Christmas tree stand. You see, dear reader, our homestead used to be a Christmas tree farm back in the 80s. Unfortunatly, the previous owners decided not to keep the farm going and let the trees grow up. On the surface this may not appear to be an issue, that is, until you consider planting densities.
Normal pine tree stands are planted at about 400-500 trees per acre. This allows for them to grow straight and healthy. Stands like that can be used for lumber and wood pulp and can net a good amount of money when they mature. However, Christmas tree farms are planted at 1,000 – 1,500 trees per acre. This is no problem if trees are kept small and regularly trimmed… Unfortunatly, that’s no the case here. Our stand is dense. It’s dark in there. This level of density leads to really unhealthy trees, and from the research I’ve been doing, it appears that there is not much that can be done.
It seems that our options are limited to the following:
- Leave it be – The trees will keep growing, and will start dying off. This will likely result in a bad situation for both domestic and wild animals, not to mention the lack of productivity of that patch of the homestead.
- Selective thinning – This would involve either getting a lumber/pulp company in to selectively harvest every other row of trees. This may not be an option because of the density. You can’t really get equipment in there. That means it might just be me with a chainsaw.
- Harvest the whole thing – This is the option that I really don’t like, but seems to be the best all around. It would net some cash from the sale of the wood and would allow us to plant a new, healthy, forest and silvopasture using permaculture principles. The main problem here would be handling the stumps and the time it would take for a new forest to establish itself.
In case anyone is interested, I’ve also compiled a few links on the topic.
- Contending with Overgrown Christmas Trees – http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/treetopics/2014/03/10/contending-overgrown-christmas-trees/
- Reddit Discussion on the topic – https://www.reddit.com/r/forestry/comments/3gsdi3/harvesting_a_30_yearold_abandoned_christmas_tree/
And here is a are some additional photos: