The Timber Crop





Forest trees are not usually regarded as a crop, but they are certainly

one of the most important crops. We should accustom ourselves to look on

our trees as needing and as deserving the same care and thought that we

give to our other field crops. The total number of acres given to the

growth of forest trees is still enormous, but we should each year add to

this acreage.



Unfortunately very few forests are so managed as to add yearly to their

value and to preserve a model stand of trees. Axmen generally fell the

great trees without thought of the young trees that should at once begin

to fill the places left vacant by the fallen giants. Owners rarely study

their woodlands to be sure that the trees are thick enough, or to find

out whether the saplings are ruinously crowding one another. Disease is

often allowed to slip in unchecked. Old trees stand long after they have

outlived their usefulness.



The farm wood-lot, too, is often neglected. As forests are being swept

away, fuel is of course becoming scarcer and more costly. Every farmer

ought to plant trees enough on his waste land to make sure of a constant

supply of fuel. The land saved for the wood-lot should be selected from

land unfit for cultivation. Steep hillsides, rocky slopes, ravines,

banks of streams--these can, without much expense or labor, be set in

trees and insure a never-ending fuel supply.




Before proper treatment]



The most common enemies of the forest crop are:



First, forest fires. The waste from forest fires in the United States is

most startling. Many of these fires are the result of carelessness or

ignorance. Most of the states have made or are now making laws to

prevent and to control such fires.



Second, fungous diseases. The timber loss from these diseases is

exceedingly great.



Third, insects of many kinds prey on the trees. Some strip all the

leaves from the branches. Others bore into the roots, trunk, or

branches. Some lead to a slow death; others are more quickly fatal.



Fourth, improper grazing. Turning animals into young woods may lead to

serious loss. The animals frequently ruin young trees by eating all the

foliage. Hogs often unearth and consume most of the seeds needed for a

good growth.




After proper treatment]



The handling of forests is a business just as the growing of corn is a

business. In old forests, dead and dying trees should be cut. Trees that

occupy space and yet have little commercial value should give way to

more valuable trees. A quick-growing tree, if it is equally desirable,

should be preferred to a slow grower. An even distribution of the trees

should be secured.



In all there are about five hundred species of trees which are natives

of the United States. Probably not over seventy of these are desirable

for forests. In selecting trees to plant or to allow to grow from their

own seeding, pick those that make a quick growth, that have a steady

market value, and that suit the soil, the place of growth, and the

climate.





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