The 12 Months of Forestry 


(from USDA Mgt Bulletin R8-MB 81)

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 provides some good news for forest landowners. The big news
is that the long term capital gains rate has been reduced significantly - if you sold your timber at the right time and you met the correct holding period requirements. Below are the conclusions for your Federal Income Tax:

1. Decide if you are going to be an active or passive participant or an investor. Generally you will get the best tax advantage if you are active.

2. Keeps good records! This includes receipts of business transactions, diaries, and landowner meeting agendas.

3. If you had reforestation (timber stand establishment) costs, be sure to consider the 10 - percent reforestation tax credit / 7 year amortization.

4. If you sold timber during the year, you may be able to benefit from the long term capital gains provisions because you do not have to pay self-employment tax on capital gains.

5. If you had cost share assistance during the year, you must report it to the IRS. You may choose to exclude some or all of it, if certain qualifications are met, but you still must report it.

6. If you participated in the CRP, your annual payments must be reported as ordinary in come. Likewise, if you received CRP cost share, assistance funds, you must report them as ordinary income.

7. Get help for forest management planning and for tax planning. Proper tax planning is just as important as the management techniques to grow a profitable timber crop.

You can contact your local Cooperative Extension office and request a pamphlet - Brief Review of Timber Taxes - FORFS 99-2

February  (1 of 2)


February 15th denotes the official beginning of the spring forest fire season in Kentucky. This period runs normally until late April. Normally, during this time period, the temperatures begin to rise and moisture in the form of rain or snow begins to become less during March and April. With increased solar radiation, the leaves and small dead branches on the ground can dry to a point that any fire source can create major burns in the forest. Many people tend to become complacent after a short rain and think that forest fire potentials are low. This can be quit the opposite with one day of full sun light. It is not uncommon to have forest fires in the spring after several days of rain. People feel that the rain has completely saturated the ground, but spring solar radiation will quickly dry out the upper surface of the ground and cause small fires to become major concerns.

After any forest fire, there is a great reduction in the value or potential value of timber. The most valuable section of a tree is the first sixteen feet, the area of a tree that is most affected by any
forest fire. Many trees do not die after a forest fire, but openings have been created to the base of the tree for insect and disease entrances. As the tree continues to grow after a fire, the damage to
the wood increases, thus lowering the value of the stem. The damage may range from simple staining to advanced rotting of the wood, all which will affect the final value of the timber. Most stands of timber that have had a least one fire in them may have a value loss of 50% of the potential value.

Take prevention to see that fires that you might need to use for farm management are contained and do not spread to a forest. Before doing any burn, contact your local representative of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. Remember that the individual responsible for forest fires are held responsible for the total suppression costs of a that fire.

February  (2 of 2)


Does it seem too early for Kentucky's forest fire season? Yes, you are right if you are basing it on last years dates. The dates have been moved back two weeks. The spring forest fire hazard is now
February 15th through April 30th. During the forest fire season, it is unlawful for any person to set fire to, or procure another to set fire to, any flammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within one hundred and fifty feet (150) of any woodland or brush land, except during the hours of 6PM and 6AM prevailing local time, or when the ground is covered in snow. (KRS.375)

There are three obvious reasons that forest fires are common in the spring:

1. Solar radiation can quickly dry out the fine fuels of leaves and twigs on the ground. This is due to the lack of foliage on deciduous trees.

2. High winds associated with low humidity are prevalent in the late winter and early spring. These factors aid in the quick drying process of wood land fuels and the spreading of fires.

3. Many land owners are patiently waiting to combat winter "cabin fever" by getting out into yards and fields to clean up for spring planting. Many use fire to help in the preparation of planting.

The University of Kentucky's Ag Weather Center has placed on its web page a section for
Forest Fire Danger. The web site is

From this web site you will need to "click" on Kentucky Weather and Climatic Information and then drop down to Fire Weather Forecasts. There is a choice of both text and graphics. Some of the materials will not be up dated until February 15th, the beginning of Kentucky's forest fire season.

March (Part 1 of 2)


The snow and rain storms very possibly create some significant damage to forest trees. Here are a few points to consider:

....Economic loss
....Trees in streams may cause alterations in drainage or clogged drainage systems
....Future loss due to insects or disease
....Safety hazards
....Potential wildlife habitat

ECONOMIC LOSS - if you have a significant number of trees that are over 12 inches in diameter that were damaged, consider a forest operation referred to as a salvage harvest, harvesting those trees that will not recover.

BLOCKED CULVERTS - downed trees in streams can cause streams to divert and cause unnecessary erosion problems. Tree materials can also cause blockage in culverts causing additional damage to roads and stream sides.

INSECTS and DISEASE - Kentucky is fortunate not to have major problems due to insects and disease, but trees can loss value quickly due to normal decomposition from insects and disease. The quicker trees can be salvaged from a stand, the more value they retain.

SAFETY HAZARDS - any work carried out in a forest situation is dangerous, but working in an area with trees that have been "hung up" from storm damage can be additionally hazardous. Increased precautions when working in stands that have been affected by storms need to be considered.

POTENTIAL WILDLIFE HABITAT - sometimes damage to trees can prove to be very valuable to wildlife. Habitat in many well managed stands is limited due to the lack of dead and dying trees. If storm damage is limited, it might be valuable to leave these trees to improve wildlife habitat.

If storm damage has occurred, this would be an opportune time to reevaluate the current management plan due to the extent of the damage. This should be carried out with the assistance of a professional forester who can advise and make the needed changes. Foresters can also advise landowners concerning any cost share programs that are available for the appropriate forest operations required to bring the management plan back into line with the landowners needs.

March (Part 2 of 2)


Discussing forestry and timber harvesting in Kentucky always leads to a very common question, "How many trees do we need to plant for every tree cut?" In Kentucky, we are very fortunate. The answer is usually, "None!" The hardwood forests of Kentucky, trees such as oaks, maple and yellow-poplar, are very resilient. Viable seeds from previous years can be found in the soil and duff layer waiting for the proper conditions for sprouting. In many instances, the condition required by most seeds in the duff layer for germination is adequate sunlight. This adequate sunlight usually results from timber harvesting, allowing the sunlight to reach the forest floor to help in the germination of seeds.

A second method of regenerating a stand of timber that has been harvested is from the stump sprouts of the harvested trees. A tree, with a diameter of twelve inches, may produce nearly one hundred sprouts around the outer edge of the stump which will eventually form one or two merchantable stems for the next harvest.

The reason for most tree plantings that are accomplished annually is due to the type of tree desired to grow on the area and not for the lack of seed source. Many landowners have a desire to alter the type of tree that was growing on the area, possibly also a desire for a redefined spacing, or possibly the area does not have a sufficient seed source for adequate coverage.

Any method of establishing a stand of timber needs to have careful planning before, during and for the many years after it begins to grow. Forest management techniques used during the growth of any stand will allow for adequate growing space by thinning the stand. Near the end of the rotation, and just before the stand is harvested, a forester can make a determination as to what method of regeneration needs to be made available for the next generation of trees.

The harvesting of the timber in Kentucky meets the demands of potential users of hardwood furniture, interior moldings, and flooring for home and office. Using forestry practices, designed by a forester, will lead to a continuous supply of timber for the future for the many uses demanded by the consumer.

Many of the forest management decisions that are necessary to maintain the quality requirements for the hardwoods grown in Kentucky need to be made long before the crop is to be harvested.

Sound management skills of Kentucky's timber is as involved as for any other agricultural crop.

April (Part 1 of 2)


Usually, at least once in the life time of a timber owner, the timber from their forested land is sold. Many times in Kentucky, timber sales are initiated by a timber buyer and not because a timber management plan calls for a harvest. Because of these sporadic timber sales for a woodland owner, it is understandable why the woodland owner is not completely knowledgeable about how to determine the true present value of the timber, or the management needs of the forest after the sale.

BEFORE you sell any timber, keep the following concerns in mind.

First - contact a professional forester who will provide information concerning your woodland needs based upon the desires of you the landowner.

Then, if a forester advises a timber harvest, the forester can precede to inventory the timber. The resulting inventory will provide you with the information concerning the amount of timber that is to be sold, as well as the quality of that timber. Only after the amount and the quality of the timber has been established, can the selling price be determined.

This question of timber value and how that value is determined is the most often requested information of a forester. Timber, like other agricultural commodities, have price fluctuations. These fluctuations in prices can be caused by a variety of factors, including, distance from the mill, number of acres to be harvested, predominate species, post management requirements and most importantly, current timber supply.

To best evaluate what the current timber prices are, always sell your timber using the sealed bid arrangement. If you have properly marketed your timber sale, stating the various characteristics of the timber to be sold as determined from the foresters timber inventory, you will in most incidents, receive the appropriate and fair market value for your timber.

Timber sales can be time consuming and confusing for the average timber owner. Consult a forester who will be able to develop a true representation of the value of your timber, design marketing strategies, develop a timber sales contract, as well as, developing a post management plan for the residual stand.

When you are ready to sell your timber, a forester might suggest delaying the sale due to present timber markets. Remember, timber can be held over from one growing season to the next, without losing the present value. Holding timber for several growing seasons, until better prices can be established, is a added benefit of timber, over other agricultural crops.

For more information concerning the evaluation, marketing and development of a sales contract of your timber stands, contact your local cooperative extension program.

April (Part 2 of 2)


In a recent issue of the National Woodland Owners Association newsletter, reference was made concerning hardwood timber prices in the south. The report mentions that quarterly stumpage prices for hardwood saw timber has reached all-time highs due primarily to high demand and influenced also to wet weather.

This price report is not reporting Kentucky timber. Kentucky does not have a reporting system, but we can assume that the increase in prices reported in hardwood stumpage mentioned in this newsletter can reflect trends in Kentucky.

Many times actual reported saw timber prices can be misleading. Timber prices are not like those of tobacco and corn and other "regulated" markets. Timber should go to the highest bidder. Any stand of timber can be viewed by any two buyers and have two completely different values. The highest value going to the buyer having the "competitive edge".

How do you determine the highest possible value for a stand of timber? By having a professional forester involved to seek out those highest number of potential buyers. The average landowner, in most cases, does not have the basic understanding of the characteristics that determine the potential value of hardwood timber. These characteristics include, but not limited to, quality, quantity, species, distance to mill, topography, and, loggers abilities. All of these have to be factored into the final bidding price.

Many referrals from timber owners are being made through county extension offices concerning timber harvesting BEFORE the sale. Due to these referrals and the involvement of a forester in the negotiations, we are finding, in most cases, that the woodland owner is receiving many more dollars for the timber harvested due to the involvement of the professional forester.

Information is the landowners best defense in determining the true value of a stand of timber. Much of this information can be accomplished through the efforts of the Cooperative Extension offices and referrals. Up to date information concerning the state wide initiatives of timber management in Kentucky can best be found through the efforts of the Kentucky Woodland Owners Association.



Sure, you can make a quick bundle from harvesting timber from your woodlot. Because of the high demand for hardwood timber in todays world market, selling timber grown in Kentucky can be very lucrative. How do you sell timber do you ask? Contact any logger in your locale and they will be very anxious to provide you a quote on their estimated value of your timber and logging will begin. This is the fastest way to make a quick bundle, but have you provided the most environmentally responsible means for harvesting the timber, and, have you received the fairest value for your timber.

Ninety percent of Kentucky's woodlands are owned by private forest land owners and the majority of the timber sales on these woodlands are not being supervised or even have a management plan designed by a professional forester. Very few of the woodland owners have any understanding of the options that are available to them when designing a timber harvest, for both the residual timber or the pending road system design that will be necessary on the harvested site.

Well, how can you harvest timber, make a substantial profit from the timber invest on your property, and at the same time, consider all the long term affects on the site? By obtaining the help and guidance of a professional forester, simple guides lines, Best Management Practices (BMP"s), can be utilized to protect the land and any future timber stands that develop as a result of today's harvest. If you do not have a timber harvest plan, most loggers will take those species and stems that will provide the highest profit for both you and himself, but in many situations will not always understand what your future desires are for the forested land. Many landowners, without a well planned and designed timber harvest contract, do little to assure that the timber harvesting system being conducted on their property will be done in an environmentally responsible method.

So, how can you harvest your timber, make a substantial profit, and leave the remaining younger commercially important trees in a healthy condition and also provide protection for the site. First, involve a professional forester who will direct you in how to market your timber for the highest possible value. By having a professional forester assisting you in the design of a harvest, you will be educated in how you, the forest owner, can be directly involved in the sustainable forest practices that will make a significant difference on your timberland investment not only for today's harvest and profits but also for future profitable harvests.



Kentucky woodland owners who bring in a professional forester before harvesting, can reap even more benefits from record high hardwood saw timber prices. Information is the landowner's best avenue to determine the true value of a timber stand and, receive this value at harvest. In many instances, the average landowner doesn't have a basic understanding of what characteristics affect the potential value of hardwood timber. Professional foresters, who know the value of such characteristics as, distance to the mill, loggers' abilities, the timber quality and quantity, the species present and the topography, all of these factors can help the owner determine the highest possible stand value and attract the most potential buyers.

Our experiences indicate that a woodland owner receives many more dollars for timber harvested, when a professional forester is involved in the negotiations. The value added to the final timber sale price far outweighs the cost of the forester's services. Saw timber prices can be misleading because loggers have different criteria for the value of timber. As a result, any two buyers can view a stand of timber and have two completely different quoted values. In recent months, quarterly prices for hardwood saw timber, sold on the stump, in the south, have reached all-time highs, according to a national woodland owners newsletter. For a forest landowner who has timber to sell, here are three leading indicators to help in aiding how to capture the highest prices for that timber.

First, how well is the over all economy. General tentices are that a strong economy will see higher demands on forest products, products such as remodeling of interiors and exteriors of homes and businesses and packaging materials used to ship newly manufactured products.

Secondly. Current housing starts. New housing starts mean more than the lumber and materials to build the house. The increase in new homes being built also creates more demand for hardwood used in floors, staircases, and the new furniture for these homes.

A third indicator is usually geared to the seasons of the year and the weather that is associated with the seasons. Long periods of wet weather will keep loggers from harvesting trees and lower the inventory at mills. Major regional catastrophes such as tornados and ice storms can lower the supply of timber in one area and increase the demand in other areas. Indeed, the value of your timber is very variable and assistance from a forester will better equip you to better understand the true value that should be received at a timber sale.

July (Part 1 of 3)


During the last weeks of July, it is very evident the construction of the webs of the fall webworm in trees along roads and around the house. During this period, people began seeing webs forming at the end of branches on many tree species. The webs start off small, unnoticed, and soon have a web that encloses three or four feet of the limb and all the leaves.

The larvae of the insect responsible for the silken web over the foliage begin to feed on those leaves enclosed in the web. As the feeding needs increase, so does the size of the web. The web, normally found at the end of the branch, acts as a shelter, protecting the larvae from moisture and other environmental conditions.

The fall webworm is ordinary not of any great importance to the forest community. The fall webworm, like many other insect attacks during late summer and early fall, do not do any damage to the tree because the tree has completed much of it's annual growth. It can be of importance on landscape trees because of the potential heavy defoliation and unsightliness of the web.

July (Part 2 of 3)


Without question many of us drive too much, either for business or pleasure. We have all used various ways in which to pass the long miles away (beside paying attention to our driving skills), doing such things as counting telephone poles, fence posts, number of pot holes missed or even learning the words to a recent popular song title.

With all of the timber that grows in Kentucky (half of the state is covered in timber), it might be interesting to pick up on a few forestry concepts or "bits of tree knowledge" as the miles tick away. Each season in forestry has its own characteristics that can be detected by the passing motorist.

With the coming of the first days of school, fall is only a short step behind and with that, fall colors. You might have noticed two trees that have been changing to red in color, leaf by leaf.

One of the trees is black gum. The individual leaves are changing to a modeled color of reddish green. No one leaf seems to be all red or all green at the same time. Black gum is some what easy to identify from a car window if you note the branching pattern of the limbs of those trees close to the road. Black gum is one of the few trees that has what foresters refer to as "right angled" branching. The limbs tend to come away from the main stem at a 90 degree angle, unlike other tree limbs that have some angling to them.

The other "tree" changing to red in color is sumac. (Sumac is not technically a tree but a shrub). The color of the individual leaflets are bright red in color. The sumac is easy to identify because the leaves are turned and hanging down and each of the leaflets growing along the long stem look much like the teeth on a saw blade when viewed from the road.

July (Part 3 of 3)


Many of the black locusts in Kentucky are beginning to turn brown.  It is probably not a sign of an early fall.  Instead the browning is caused by an insect that has apparently set up housekeeping for some time to come. A close inspection of leaves on the lower branches of damaged trees will bring you into contact with one of the most serious insect pests of black locusts,  which is appropriately called the locust leafminer.
The adult of this insect is a beetle that is about 1/4-inch long and has an orange body with a black stripe down the back and black head, antennae and legs.
The adult beetle hibernates wherever winter protection can be found, often in litter under the locusts.  As temperatures warm in the spring, the beetles move to the developing foliage and begin to feed on lower leaf surfaces, leaving speckled, shot-hole type damage. The beetles then lay eggs and the resulting larvae eat into the inner layer of leaf tissue, forming a mine.  Preferred
feeding sites are near the tips of leaflets, where the mines take on the shape of irregular blotches
After emerging in midsummer, adults of this second generation begin feeding on the leaves, subjecting the trees to more damage.  This second generation will again lay eggs on the leaves and second-generation larvae will add more damage to the foliage.  After adult beetles emerge in late summer and fall, they will look for overwintering sites.  It's no wonder that black locusts are turning brown!
Black locust trees may produce a second growth of leaves during a growing season.  If damage by the locust leafminer is extensive on this foliage in successive years, trees may die or at least be weakened to the point where they may be susceptible to other pests and diseases.
In a year when water is a shortage, drought stress is a real concern as well.   Although black locusts are the most obvious  plants host, other plants such as false indigo, bristly locust,  Japanese pagoda tree, and golden chain tree are fed on as well.
The adults are known to feed on include dogwood, elm, oak, beech, cherry, wisteria, hawthorne, and several herbaceous plants. The locust leafminer is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada.  Several natural control agents including parasitic wasps and predators such as the wheel bug prey on various life stages of the locust leafminer.  Most black locusts are found in the wild or along roadsides and control measures for this pest are seldom used in this setting.  If a tree is part of a residential or recreational area, there are pesticide applications that can be used to reduce the damage.

Monte Johnson, Cooperative Extension Entomology, University of  Kentucky

Side Bar: Black Locust

Black locust trees (in the majority of the sites it grows on) are referred to as a pioneer species, a species of tree that will quickly show up in an old pasture or field that has been released from cultivation. Black locust can quickly become the dominate species. The tree will dominate a site until other long term species begin to invade the site, species such as yellow-polar or oaks. Once these more dominant species “take hold”, the black locust will begin to fall out of the landscape. Foresters who survey forested properties will usually find very few large black locust dominating a mixed maturing hardwood stand. The black locust usually die out as the other species begin to flourish. You might come upon a “grove” of black locust among a hardwood stand. Usually you will find that this small group of black locust have survived the “take over” due to some soil condition that is more favorable to locust than other invading species.
Black locust is also important as a pioneer species because of it’s nitrogen fixing capabilities. Black locust actually improves the soil that has been depleted of nitrogen nutients from extensive “farming” and will nurse the area back to a level of soil fertility or stability where other trees can take hold of the site.

August (Part 1 of 3)


With temperatures hovering near the 90s, it's hard to envision that many trees already are preparing for the winter. Many trees have begun to shut down for the winter during August. This means they are gradually reducing active growth and preparing to go dormant for the winter.

As trees start to prepare for the winter, many begin to loose leaves and show color that is a forerunner to vibrant fall foliage. For example, the yellow poplar is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. Thus, it's one of the first trees to begin losing leaves in the fall.

Trees in the 'shut down' mode often are more susceptible to attacks from insects and diseases. An instance of insect problems is the browning of leaves showing up on black locust trees throughout Kentucky in recent weeks. This browning is caused by the locust leafminer whose larvae eat the leaves of locust trees as well as birch, apple, beech, cheery, elm and oak. Insects don't eat the entire leaf. Instead, they 'mine' the inner part of leaves, removing the green-colored chlorophyl and leaving a brown-colored skeleton. This is why so much brown is visible.

These insect attacks usually don't cause death unless trees are in a stressful situation in the earlier part of the growing season, such as extremely dry conditions. You might want to pay closer attention to affected trees growing in a landscape situation than those in the forest.

Another reason some trees are dropping leaves is to reduce evaporation to better cope with dry conditions.

August (Part 2 of 3)


Two very conspicuous flowers are being seen along the roads in Kentucky presently.

Driving or walking the fields of Kentucky in August, you probably have noticed two tall flowering plants growing in open areas around the state. They are ironweed and Joe-pye-weed, two members of the Composite family. This family, the largest in Kentucky and perhaps the world, contains numerous familiar wild flowers like goldenrods, asters, daisies, and sunflowers, as well as many garden and lawn weeds like dandelions, fleabanes, thistles, and the like. There are five species of ironweed native to Kentucky, but the most common by far is the Tall Ironweed, Vernonia gigantea. There are three species commonly referred to as Joe-pye-weed, but the most common in our state is Eupatorium fistulosum, the hollow-stemmed Joe-pye-weed.

Ironweed and Joe-pye-weed are both very conspicuous in our flora at this time of year because they both grow quite tall, ten feet high on a rich site, and both sport eye-catching floral displays. As Composites, what appear on both plants at first glance to be flowers are actually small, dense clusters of very tiny flowers, each with pollen-bearing stamens and capable of producing a single sunflower-seed like fruit in the fall. The floral display then, is a cluster of clusters! In ironweed the flowers are magenta to purple; in Joe-pye-weed they are a more pale pink. The floral display in ironweed tends to be flat-topped, while that of the most common Joe-pye-weed is dome-shaped. Also, if you inspect the plants at close range, another difference is apparent. Ironweed displays its leaves alternately along the stem, one leaf at each point of attachment. Joe-pye-weed's leaves are displayed as whorls of four or more at each attachment point.

Both ironweed and Joe-pye-weed reach their best development and flower in August and early September, a little before most of the goldenrods and asters of fall. Since most Kentucky flowering plants bloom in spring or early summer, late-season blooms like ironweed and Joe-pye-weed are an important source of nourishment for still-active insects hungry for a meal of nectar or pollen. When they pale and set seed in the fall, both plants are popularly used in dried flower arrangements.

Thanks to Rob Paratley, Curator, UK Herbarium here in the Department of Forestry, he has now helped us all in knowing more about these two flowers common to Kentucky.

August (Part 3 of 3)

Fall Web Worm

During late July and early August, people will be seeing webs forming at the end of branches on many tree species. The webs start off small, unnoticed, and soon have a web that encloses three or four feet of the limb and all the leaves.

The larvae of the insect responsible for the silken web over the foliage begin to feed on those leaves enclosed in the web. As the feeding needs increase, so does the size of the web. The web, normally found at the end of the branch, acts as a shelter, protecting the larvae from moisture and other environmental conditions.

The fall webworm is ordinary not of any great importance to the forest community. The fall webworm, like many other insect attacks during late summer and early fall, do not do any damage to the tree because the tree has completed much of it's annual growth. It can be of importance on landscape trees because of the potential heavy defoliation and unsightliness of the web.

September (1 of 2)


Traditionally, during the late summer and early fall, timber buyers are making more aggressive moves to purchase stands of timber. Several reasons exist for this tradition. One is that export markets are more lucrative at this time. Secondly, local sawmills are stock piling for a possible wet fall and winter which can limit timber harvesting.

If you do have a stand of timber that is mature and needs to be sold, stop and consider what the value of this timber is. Most of us, at one time or another, have sold something, a home, a boat, or car. At the time of the sale we have established a value, waited, and in most instances negotiated a price and eventually sold the item, if and only if the price was right.

But when it comes to a stand of timber, most of us have very little experience, if any in negotiating a true value for the timber. In many situations we had no intention to sell any trees until we had been approached by a buyer and asked, "Got any timber to sell?" All of a sudden the trees in our woodlands have a monetary value and the temptation to sell has to be immediate before the buyer has a change of mind.

You may think you know what your timber is worth, but very few people understand the potential value of timber until it has been marketed. Marketing timber is much different from simply selling timber. When marketing timber, you do not establish an exact value, but allow the market forces to establish the price by having many timber buyers having the opportunity to view and then bid on the timber. Many times the market value can be much different from the expected value that you or a single buyer may have calculated.

So how do you determine the true market value of your woodland timber? First would be to involve a professional forester. Take your time and after being educated in the potential forest management objectives that are available for you as well as the timber stand, then decide what the best suitable forest management alternative would be for you and that woodland. If you decide that selling timber is a option, then, with the assistance of the forester, consider what the potential market value is for the timber in your woodland.

If you do decide to sell your timber, do not rush into the sale. Hardwoods harvested in Kentucky average nearly eighty years in age and retain their market value for many years after reaching maturity. The best advise is to consider all your options provided by the professional forester and if the occasion arises, market your timber stand.

September (Part 2 of 2)


With the changing of the leaves, individuals always have a desire to extend the growing season through plantings in the garden and yards. Planting forestry related species is no exception.

Fall plantings of tree seedlings offer the tree a good initial growth in the spring by having the advantage of becoming established as soon as the weather signals a beginning to the new growing season. Spring tree plantings are usually timed earlier than other agricultural crops, usually as early as mid February. Because of this early time of planting, many times we plant too late to provide the tree seedlings those few extra weeks for early growth and establishment.

There is one exception that needs to be noted concerning the dangers of fall plantings. This one exception would be if you were attempting to make a planting on exposed soil. In this situation trees that are planted in the fall can be literary "heaved" out of the ground by the alternating freezing and thawing action on the soil and seedling during the winter months. Frost heaving becomes more pronounced in years that have little or no snow cover.

If you do have a desire to plant tree seedlings during the fall, or even in the spring, on sodded areas, you might consider also the need for vegetative competition that will influence the seedlings during late spring and early summer of the first growing season.

Since these trees are only 6 to 12 inches in height, grass sod will quickly cover and probably kill the newly established tree seedlings. One way to control this competition would, prior to planting, spot spray the location of the planting with a recommended herbicide for the competitive ground cover. This will provide adequate competition control until mid summer of the first growing season.

In many cases one more selective spraying for the second growing season will be enough to provide the seedlings with a competitive advantage on the site.

Tree planting can be an investment for the future, not only monetarily, but also can provide soil erosion control measures, site improvement benefits, attraction of diverse wildlife as well as possibly improving the aesthetic value of your property. If you are planning on planting this fall, after the first of November, it will be necessary to contact a supplier soon for these seedlings to take advantage of an ample supply and variety of trees for planting.

Contact a forester for information concerning what species would best grow in those sites that are available on your property.

October (Part 1 of 3)


With the approach of fall, it is easy to see the subtle changes in the color of the hardwood trees in Kentucky. Soon, the vibrant colors of orange, yellows and the reds will be enjoyed by all. One group of the trees that will be over looked in the fall color change will be the pines. Often over looked, but not unnoticed.

Pines also loose a portion of their leaves (needles) in the fall, but do not go through the colorful ceremony that the hardwoods do. Pines will have a portion of their needles turn brown and fall to the ground at a similar time as the hardwoods.

Many calls are made to the Agricultural Extension office confusing normal fall needle drop with some disease or insect attack. The most noticeable of the pines that individuals call about is the white pine, a pine easily identified by the five needles per needle bundle. Also the limbs on the white pine grow in whirls, a complete set of limbs at one height on the stem. Usually these groups of limbs are about three feet apart, so every three feet you will have a set of limbs growing around the stem. (Very much the same arrangement as the artificial Christmas trees that are bought that have "plug-in" limbs.) The white pine has a very uniform dark green foliage. With the coming of fall, the brown needles that appear contrast dramatically causing the alarm.

It is a simple task to determine if the needles are being attacked by insect or disease or simply losing needles due to the time of year. Normal needle fall of a white pine, as well as most other pines, will have the inter most needles of the limbs, closest to the main stem of the tree, turning brown. It will be a uniform change in color of brown throughout the entire tree. Normally the needles will change to a brownish-yellow first, then abruptly brown. Early in the winter the needles will fall to the ground, again leaving the tree uniformly green for the spring. Cause for alarm for any pine, as well as hardwoods, would be seeing foliage turning from green to brown on the exterior of any limb while still green on the interior. If this should develop, it would be suggested to call or take an appropriate sample for closer examination to someone with expertise in this subject.

October (Part 2 of 3)


(Everything You Wanted to Know About the Fall Leaf Colors)

During the first few weeks of October, we are going to see the best of the fall leaf colors. Many of us, either for personal or work related reasons, have questions concerning leaf color posed to us. Here are some quick and simple answers to several of the questions.


Leaves have other pigments (yellows, reds, browns and oranges) imbedded in the leaf throughout the year in addition to green. Green is related to the chlorophyll pigment, the pigment that manufactures the foods for the trees growth.


Trees produce chlorophyll from the sunlight. As the days become shorter a signal is sent to the leaf to cease production of chlorophyll. When this happens the green color begins to dissipate and the other pigments in the leaf become visible.


The experts tend to differ on the formula for fall colors, but for general rules the following are good guidelines. Early frosts causing early leaf kill will provide more browns in the landscape. Warm days and cool nights of the fall are responsible for the manufacturing of sugars that are not able to be sent to the roots since the route is being slowly cut off. This will produce possibly brighter shades of reds.


Yes! Oaks are browns and reds. Yellow-poplar (Kentucky's state tree) are yellow. Ash of central Kentucky is purplish-blue due to the limestone. Red maple and sugar maples are found to be red. Hickories tend to be golden bronze.


Leaves are made up of cells that are basically water. In the winter they would freeze. The less sunlight in the fall signals the tree to shed its leaves. The veins that carry the sugars and water back and forth from the leaf to the roots begin to seal off at the base of the leaf with the signal of shorting days. By mid October, in Kentucky, most of the seals are complete and the leaves fall off. Oaks tend to not make a complete seal and stay on the tree until late winter or early spring winds blow them off.

October (Part 3 of 3)


The early signs of autumn are beginning to show, cooler weather, faint coloring of the leaves and the emerging of "firewood for sale" signs. Many individuals buy firewood during the burning season and find that it does not burn as efficiently as the wood left over from last year. Why? Seasoning. As with any fine wine, wood also has to be seasoned, dried to the proper moisture content, before it should be burned.

The next obvious question is how to determine if fire wood is seasoned. Examining the ends of the wood will give a quick indication. If you have large cracks and splits in the wood, usually the wood is dried. The drier the wood, the larger the splits. The reason you don't want to burn wet wood is because the heat of the fire will be used in turning water into steam to be sent up the chimney. Also, creosote has the opportunity to build up in the chimney with a slow burning fire.

Wood, to be properly seasoned, should be allowed to stand in a well designed stack for air circulation for approximately one year. Literature shows that wood that has been air dried for three months will remove approximately 85% of the allowable moisture from the wood. Six months will remove some 90%.

Speeding the process of drying wood can be accomplished in several ways. Removing the bark will initially aid in the drying. Allowing air circulation from all sides will also speed up the process. Storing under a cover will continue the drying process during rainy periods. Do not place a cover over the sides of the wood pile. This will not permit the water to evaporate from the ends of the wood into the atmosphere. Wood does not have to be stacked in a building to be properly dried.



As Indian summer has quickly changed to winter, many people have found themselves in the need to find home firewood, without realizing that there is a difference in the woods they can obtain.

Two major considerations should be made when selecting firewood. First is the heat content of the wood, and secondly, how well seasoned the wood is. Lets start with the second item first - how well seasoned, or how dry, the firewood is.

Wood contains water, in fact some trees, when first cut, contain as much water, by weight, as there is wood fiber. If you were to attempt to burn wet wood from a wet wood stack, all your heat would be used to dry the wood, thus giving off little heat to your home. Most wood should be cut, split and stacked for six to twelve months before it is brought in to the home for use.

If you are just buying your wood supply, you need to ask the dealer if the firewood being purchased is seasoned. You can quickly observe for yourself if the wood has been seasoned by looking for the weathered appearance of gray in color and having large split ends in the logs.

The other consideration that needs to be made when purchasing firewood is the potential heat content. Heat content is measured by how dense the wood is. Species such as oak, hickory and beech are much denser, thus having more wood fiber per unit volume, than a species such as yellow-poplar. To measure the difference in heat content, hold a similar sized piece of oak in one hand and yellow-poplar in the other. This will exhibit that denser woods, such as oak, will provide more heat per unit volume. Species such as yellow-poplar are very good woods to have in the firewood stack for starting fires due to their lower densities.

With the first signs of snow, peoples attentions are quickly turning to having a warm comfortable fire in the fireplace. Purchasing wood that has been properly seasoned and having a high heat content, or density, will make for a warm, comfortable, long burning fire during the coming winter months.



Below is a list of those common species of trees in Kentucky that may end up being utilized for firewood. Of course, the name on the left is the common name. The word on the right defines the splitting ease of the woods. Trust me, don't even take for free those woods that are labeled as POOR. You can not split them. Dealing with "heat content", I would suggest that you stop at hackberry. Below this species you are producing more energy by running outside to gather up the wood to throw in the stove. But remember, those woods listed below hackberry are great woods for "fire starters" (low density) as mentioned in the article.