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Farm and Forest Marking Trees


Photo Story: Marking Trees

One day late in June, David Haenke demonstrated how he marks trees for harvest. David is an independent forest manager in the Brixey area. He marks the trees to show loggers which trees he wants them to cut.


With a sprayer, he marks the tree about four feet up the trunk. This makes sure the loggers will see the mark. He makes another mark at the base, for his own reference.

When he returns he will be able to see if the trees they cut and removed were the ones he marked. He will also know if they cut an unmarked tree, or if someone else came and poached, or stole, a tree.

David moves quickly through a stand of small Black Oaks. He is looking at them for signs of disease.
David's aim is to "weed" the forest of its sick and weaker trees. He will leave the best ones to grow into marketable timber. Years from now they will be harvested and their logs turned into lumber. Leaving the best trees to grow means they will be sold for a higher dollar value. That way the forest will make more money for its owners and be healthier as it grows.
Here we are looking up at the tops of  trees that he marked. The treetop in the middle shows brown leaves, meaning that the crown is dying back. Both that one and the tree on the left are growing branches lower down the trunk. This can be a sign they are being attacked by borers, and are struggling to put out enough leaves to gather light. In a healthy tree you find the branches at and toward the top.
Sometimes a tree is found wounded, but the cause is not known. This Black Oak has a seeping wound. These beetles may have caused the wound, or merely been attracted by the oozing sap.
David checks out the crowns of the trees to see if they are crowding each other. He keeps trees with larger dominant crowns. Can you tell which is the dominant tree?
When David marks a Shortleaf Southern Yellow Pine, a softwood tree, he is telling the loggers not to cut it just now. He knows that Canadian timber harvesters are selling lots of softwood now. When supplies are abundant, prices go down. When the price for softwood trees is too low, it's better to postpone the harvest and let the trees grow.
David is choosing to remove trees that are diseased, crowded, or are poorly formed, as they intrude on the growth of healthier trees. Under his direction, loggers will come through every few years to cut a few marked trees at a time. He won't mark healthy, well-formed trees. He intends let the best trees continue to grow even after they reach marketable size. He knows the bigger the trees get, the more valuable they will be. 
Long ago, whole forests were cut to get the best trees all at once. It could take 40-80 years before another harvest would be ready. By being a good steward of the forest, David will be able to harvest these woods for years to come, and also keep the forest intact.

Related Articles:

The Effects of Drought on the Forest

Firewood Cutting

Low Grading vs. High Grading

For more information on sustainable forestry, see the Value Missouri web site.