I have 140 acres of mixed forest/old field and I would like to clearcut/chop a 10 or so acre site that has only wolf white pines, small red maples, not understory.  Let it start over.  My land is 100 % for deer hunting, wetlands, wildlife.  Any suggestions?  A "hydroax" would work, yes?  But I imagine expensive.

Other ideas?

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Hi James:

As you're implied and presumably realize, the site doesn't seem to have much value in the trees and you need to find a non-commercial strategy.  I would start with a visit from a DEC forester to develop a management plan if you don't already have one.  If you have a management plan, call the forester and see strategies they might suggest to accomplish your desired outcome.  Here are some ways to clear 10 acres...I'm not suggesting these would work in all situations, and as a tool, these all have positive and negative features for you to explore. Most of these would also mix-n-match to reduce your costs and optimize your outcome.

  1. hydroax or any process will cost something per acre.  I'm not familiar with the upper size of stems that a hydroax can handle, but depending on your trees, some might be too big.  The hydroax, I think, will leave behind fragments of the stem and will shatter the stump.  The shattered stump, if I'm recalling correctly, may reduce sucker sprouting; this is either good or bad depending on your desire.
  2. Fecon mulcher head (see some photos I posted from Watkins Glen at http://silvopasture.ning.com) leaves a very nice surface of mulched material.  Probably about the same cost per acre.
  3. Hack-n-squirt is an option to use an herbicide such as roundup (many other trade names).  This is your least costly effort because you could do an acre or so per weekend.  The downside here is that all the dead stems remain.  Not good if you have any structures, but great habitat for woodpeckers etc.  Just know that you're creating hazard trees.  Here is a link to info on using herbicides in the forest from PSU.  Also, do a search of the blogs on this site for "herbicide" and you should fine several hits.
  4. See through your forester if any loggers locally are using lowgrade wood for any markets.  You might give them the 10 acres of trees, but would get the work done for free.
  5. Install some fencing and run hogs in a rotational grazing (not all 10 acres at once, maybe 0.5 acres at a time).  The risk here is the need to be very certain you have good fence, and know how to manage hogs.  Or, let a local hog farmer do the work by leasing the land for a $1.  This won't remove the trees, but if done intensely will kill the trees.  Typically we don't recommend killing trees with livestock, but this is an option with this tool.  You'll want to get a book on cover crops so you can reseed each section after the hogs are finished.
  6. You buy a chainsaw, take Game of Logging, and cut the trees yourself.  Cutting and leaving is fairly quick.  Cutting and utilizing/extracting the wood takes at least three times as long as just cutting.  Maybe extra the red maple for firewood and subsequently cut and leave the wolfy pines.  Maybe a local firewood cutter will take the red maple, and offer a 2 for 1 deal, where he cuts two pine for each maple he takes.
  7. Some combination of the above...such as remove some firewood, hack-n-squirt some pine, allowing for flash of the herbicide to untreated pines, and then hiring a Fecon to mop up the remainder of the smaller trees.

I hope this helps.  I don't mean to overwhelm you, but there are many options to consider.  Maybe post a picture of the area so we can visualize what you're seeing.  Keep us posted on what you decide.

Good luck,



I would add to Pete's excellent advice, from personal experience.  If you go for any option that cuts live trees and don't want certain species to come back into the "restarted" stand, make sure you know which species are likely to root sprout or stump sprout.  Sprouts can be very numerous and vigorous, and take over the space once exposed to full sunlight.

We restarted a stand that had quite a few red maple stems in it, by cutting with a chainsaw.  The red maples sprouted vigorously from the stumps.  The aspen sprouted from the roots, also with gusto.  In hindsight, we might have used a glyphosate stump treatment following each stem cut to prevent the sprouting.  We ended up not getting the change in species composition that we were looking for.

As with any treatment that opens up the canopy to *any* extent, first pay attention to invasive species and, as I've described above, the likely reactions of existing trees/plants to the additional light.  This is a planning step that you should be sure to discuss with a forester.

Good luck!  Tim



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