Reforestation remains one of the most important aspects of the forest management process. The most important part of the reforestation process is understanding the landowners objectives of the future timber stand. Other considerations are the species of tree harvested from the site, site quality, soil type, and competing vegetation.
Regeneration practices are divided into two general categories: natural regeneration methods and artificial regeneration methods. Natural methods rely on natural sources to begin the next stand. Artificial methods involve planting the desired species in the harvested area. This allows the use of genetically improved planting stock and systematic spacing of the seedlings to insure stocking levels that maximize the growth potential of the whole stand.
KRM virtually always recommends that a landowner artificially regenerate pine stands by planting improved seedlings. This is mainly due to the availability of cost-share assistances from state and federal agencies (See Cost Share Assistance for more information). Natural regeneration methods are mostly limited to hardwood stands where the site of the timber sale is favorable to hardwood growth and there is a good source of high value species present on the site before the harvest.
Reforestation prescription decisions on whether to use natural or artificial regeneration methods are most often made prior to the harvest of the existing stand of timber. Other reforestation prescriptions, such as site preparation techniques, are normally made during or after the timber harvest is complete. Site preparation techniques include some or all of the following activities:
- Chemical site preparation of the area to kill competing species before planting
- Mechanical site preparation to remove competing vegetation and logging debris before planting
- Prescribed burning of the site to remove logging debris, improve access by planting crews to the site, improve seedling survival, and control natural regeneration
- Bedding of wet-natured sites
- Disking or sub-soiling sites with excessive logging damage to soil quality
- Planting genetically improved seedlings matched to the site location
- Applying herbaceous weed control after planting to release seedlings from unwanted competition
Techniques used are dependent upon such factors as the time of year the harvest of the previous stand is completed, make-up of the previous stand, weather conditions, location, species to be reforested, and timber budget constraints.
Cost Share Assistance
Most private landowners are eligible to receive cost share assistance from some state and federal agencies. The cost share assistance will normally reimburse the landowner for up to 40% of the actual cost of all reforestation expenses. Most programs limit cost share assistance to 100 acres per landowner, per year.
Since the early 1990’s, KRM has recommended the use of herbicides to harvested tracts either as a site preparation tool or a release to control herbaceous vegetation. KRM works with the chemical contractors to make decisions on which chemicals should be used, the rates to be applied, and the timing of the application. KRM places all of our firm’s herbicide work on bids each year, both private and corporate clients, to insure that our clients receive the best price for the job.
As part of the bid package, all contractors receive tract maps that show the location of the area that the herbicide is to be applied, SMZ’s, as well as any other sensitive areas (public roads, transmission line R/W’s, houses, etc.). Vicinity maps are also provided to show the location of the tract as it relates to the surrounding community. KRM also exports the GIS data for these same maps in a format that can be utilized by the aerial crew with a GPS unit.
KRM reforests an average of 2,500 acres annually for our clients. Although the tree planting labor is subcontracted, KRM has an employee with the tree planting crews 100% of the time to supervise quality control. As a result, replants have averaged less than 5% per year for the last 25 years. KRM purchases an average of 1.5 million genetically superior seedlings annually from seedling nurseries for the tree planting of our clients’ properties.
Prior to planting, all tracts that are to be reforested are checked to make certain that all the prescribed site preparation activities have taken place. KRM identifies any portions of the tract that are to be removed and/or added to the reforestation process and adjusts the acreage accordingly. KRM receives bids for all tree planting work, on both private and corporate clients, from reputable tree planting contractors.
KRM works closely with representatives of the various tree seedling to obtain genetically improved tree seedlings. The number of seedlings needed is dependant on the species planted, the desired stocking, and whether it is being planted for the first time or remediation. Planting schedules are then created to ensure that tree planting crews are efficient in moving from one tract to another, as well as from one region to another. KRM works with freight services to transport the tree seedlings in refrigerated cargo trailers to ensure tree seedling survival. The freight service moves the cargo trailer from one planting region to another, acting as a hub from which planting crews can be supplied. KRM devotes at least one full-time employee to oversee the entire tree planting process. This employee’s responsibility is to aid in locating tree planting crews to the various tracts, monitoring planting conditions (humidity, soil moisture), perform quality checks of the planting, and to supply the tree planting crews with seedlings.
All planted areas are checked the following fall, after frost, to determine if seedlings survival is sufficient or if remedial activities are required. Survival checks are performed on a systematic basis, usually providing at least one 1/100th plot for every two acres planted. The survival check accounts for the number of planted trees and natural trees per acre. This stocking data can be used through the future in the production of growth and yield projections and thinning regimes.