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Forage Yield and Quality Under Oak Crop Tree Management. Mike Demchik University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. The Issue. 800,000+ acres of woods are grazed in MN Foresters ignored the potential for wood from grazed woods

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forage yield and quality under oak crop tree management

Forage Yield and Quality Under Oak Crop Tree Management

Mike Demchik

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

the issue
The Issue
  • 800,000+ acres of woods are grazed in MN
  • Foresters ignored the potential for wood from grazed woods
  • Forage from woods is often low quality and low yield (200 lbs per acre or less)
  • Most woodlots are overstocked with trees and cattle (too many trees or cattle)
  • Cattle can damage trees
the question
The Question

Can management of the woodland benefit the forage yield and quality?

the effect of canopy shading
The Effect of Canopy Shading
  • Cool season and low nutrient plants dominate
  • Cool season grasses need and can use less light than warm season grasses
  • Warm season grasses grow MUCH faster than cool season grasses- higher yields
  • Full canopy can mean less than 100 lbs/acre forage
side one how to improve forage growth
Side one: How to Improve Forage Growth
  • Open up the canopy
    • More light equals more warm season grasses
    • More light results in more and better forage
  • Seeding- at low yields may not be economically feasible and what do you plant??
side two how to improve tree growth and value
Side two: How to Improve Tree Growth and Value
  • Open up the canopy
  • Select your best trees
  • Remove most of the rest
  • Use short duration, high intensity rotation during spring or fall (low bugs too)
  • Avoiding wet soil (swamps) reduces the amount of soil damage
the idea
The Idea
  • Crop tree management is the best solution
  • Crop tree involves concentrating most of the growth in the stand on the best trees
  • The inefficiency of crop tree management is that a lot of light makes it to the forest floor
  • This is where you are growing your forage
the site
The Site
  • Cass Co., MN, USA
  • Glossaquic Eutroboralfs soil
    • Perched water table Oct-June (1 meter of surface), high levels of soil bases, northern mixed sandy-loam Alfisol
  • Natural forest vegetation (25 m2/ha)
  • Quercus macrocarpa, Pinus resinosa, Betula papyrifera
  • Grazed for more than 30 years (possibly 100)
the project
The Project
  • Three sites marked for crop tree management
  • Three sites as controls
  • Cutting done in winter of 2002-2003
  • Three fenced sub-plots in each plot (total of 18)
  • Forage samples taken in early summer and late fall 2003
the crop tree system
The Crop Tree System
  • Release the crown on three or four sides
  • Target basal area 18.5 m2/ha
  • Selecting 50-70 trees/ha as crop trees
  • Leave about 15 feet between crowns of crop trees
relative feed value
Relative Feed Value
  • In general, early season feed values and protein were similar and good (suitable for dairy animals)
  • Later season values are poorer overall and worse in the unmanaged stands
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Crop tree management has been shown in other studies to be a good method for increasing sawlog value in a relatively short time (10-20 years)
  • It appears that this method also increases forage production
will this work for farmers
Will this Work for Farmers?
  • YES! Minnesota has a very long, cold winter
  • Farmers often burn wood to heat (up to 10 cords/year of mixed hardwood)
  • Thinnings from 1-3 acres of crop tree can supply a winter’s firewood
  • Most farmers are used to “weeding” a garden and “weeding” their woods appeals to them
past extension efforts
Past Extension Efforts
  • Forest management for Cow-Calf operators
  • Growler series (three sessions included this topic)
  • A technical publication
slide28

Integrating farming and forestry can be ecologically and economically rewarding as well as result in a beautiful landscape.