Tulip Poplar

Carl D Weinberger weinb901 at raven.csrv.uidaho.edu
Sun Jan 21 17:34:55 EST 1996

In a previous post Clay Fink said/asked - 

SA> In Eastern Kentucky a mill has just gone into operation (run by
SA> Trus Joist  McMillen) that produces a composite timber product
SA> from tulip poplar.  They  take any trees between 8 and 20 DBH.
SA> From what little I know, up till now  tulip trees that size were
SA> not considered to be economically mature, I'd think that high
SA> quality veneer or saw timber would require a larger DBH (is this
SA> true?).  It seems that their new processing technology has
SA> created a market  for timber that was not previously of economic
SA> value. Is this a trend in the  timber industry?  I've heard that
SA> similar things are being done elsewhere with trees that were
SA> considered to be junk or useful only for pulp.  Is this a good
SA> thing?  What might be the long term effects of this kind of
SA> timber harvesting  on the landscape?  How will this change
SA> silvicultural practices for tulip  poplar stands?  I'm just a
SA> layman (that's the second time today that I've made that
SA> qualification) but I would like to know if any of these questions
SA> are  generally considered to be issues in the field of forestry
SA> today.  Thanks.  

I'm afraid that I haven't stayed current on the silvics of 
Tulip Poplar, but there is a continuing trend throughout the
forest industry to utilize material previously considered
"sub-merchantable".  For the most part this provides the
economic incentive and opportunity to conduct "good" forest
practices - for example:
1.  Overstocked stands can now be economically thinned, and 
the poor quality trees, that would not have made it to maturity 
but would have drug down the vigor of the whole stand until 
they died, can be removed at a profit or at least at a very 
low net cost.
2.  Stands that have been devastated by insects and/or disease 
can now often be salvaged economically, and what otherwise 
would have been dangerous fuel loads waiting for a 
catastrophic fire can be removed and put to good use.
3.  Rotations on the higher quality trees in the stand can be 
economically extended due to the ability to start generating a
revenue stream early in the rotation period.
 There are usually numerous other benefits which tend to be 
species and site specific.
  However, like any change in practices, the possible outcomes 
can be quite complex.  If the ability to utilize smaller as 
well as lower quality trees is used as an excuse to consistently
harvest all trees in a stand before maturity, it *may* be
detrimental to those forest associated species that need the
characteristics more mature stands.  I say *may* because 
something that may seem detrimental when examined at one 
spatial or temporal scale, is often neutral or even beneficial 
when examined at a different scale.
Bob Weinberger - La Grande, OR
rweinber at orednet.org                                          

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