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Growing Firewood- best species ?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by preventec47, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. preventec47

    preventec47 ArboristSite Member

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    I heard from an acquaintance that he is planting about 20 acres of "Tree of Heaven"
    trees and from doing a few googles I see that is does grow pretty rapidly but
    I cannot find what it's density is so that I could compare it to oak or pine etc.
    as far as BTU output.

    As far as the question goes, I have never heard of anyone able to plan that
    far ahead so as to plant their own trees for firewood. Of course you would
    want to make sure the wood splits pretty well but you would want to pick
    the species that produces the most BTU's per acre I would guess.

    I see that the Botanical Name: Paulownia tomentosa. commonly referred to also
    as Empress Tree (paulownia) or Royal Empress Tree has what is considered
    to be the fastest growing rate.
    10-15 ft. growth per year
    35-50 ft. 3 year height
     
  2. Laird

    Laird Nemo me impune lacessit

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    I had always heard that it was considered an invasive species that chokes out everything else.

    Found this:

    ECOLOGICAL THREAT
    Tree-of-heaven is a fast-growing tree and a prolific seeder, that can take over sites, replacing native plants and forming dense thickets. Ailanthus also produces chemicals that prevent the establishment of other plant species nearby. Its root system may be extensive and has been known to cause damage to sewers and foundations.
     
  3. Laird

    Laird Nemo me impune lacessit

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    Virginia Dept. of Forestry does say it makes good firewood though.

    Based on research, Ailanthus should make acceptable
    firewood. When dry, it is comparable to other preferred
    hardwoods, such as ash, oak, maple, beech and hickory,
    for heat value. Because of the high moisture content
    of green Ailanthus, it is important that it is dried well
    before using. Users of Ailanthus firewood reported no
    odor concerns.
     
  4. 3fordasho

    3fordasho AboristSite Guru

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    I have not researched it a whole lot, but Black Locust might fit the bill. Grows fast for a high btu wood. Low moisture content so it seasons quickly. Also considered an invasive species in some areas. I planted about 10 bare root seedlings in the spring of 09 and the best of them are 12' high and 3" diameter- far from firewood but not bad for only 2 years.
     
  5. lfnh

    lfnh Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Tree of Heaven, should be burned at the stake.
    Sent a few in the other direction. :laugh:
    Check invasive species.
    ime.
     
  6. preventec47

    preventec47 ArboristSite Member

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    I have googled a lot of info about the "Tree of Heaven" species and am not worried
    in the least if I were planting it for firewood. If it were to be the fastest growing
    BTU wood per acre then it would be treated like a food plot to be harvested.
    I could never find a weight per volume of the wood when dried but I did see
    many references that it grew pretty fast. Black Locust is also very interesting
    because it resists rot and has been used for centuries to build boats with.
    also fence posts in this country. Black Locust I seem to recall never gets
    very big though and I would want to chop a tree down when the base trunk
    got to be about 20 inches in diameter.
    Thanks Laird about the reference from W. VA. as to firewood use being similar
    to hardwoods. That might be all I need to hear .... except that it grows only
    half as fast at the Royal Empress tree/ Pawlonia and I have to check that one
    out also as for producing good burning wood.
     
  7. brewmonster

    brewmonster ArboristSite Operative

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    Ailanthus and Pawlownia are indeed fast-growing trees. They are also wickedly aggressive weeds. Anyone who plants them will soon regret his folly. Ailanthus makes for fair firewood, though I pity the poor sawyer who gets the stinky job of cutting it. They really reek. As for Pawlownia, the wood is extremely low in density and therefore worthless as firewood, though useful for woodworking.

    A fast-growing tree that makes for great firewood? Can anyone think of anything better than black locust?
     
  8. Chud

    Chud ArboristSite Operative

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    That crap will be growing around the foundation of your house, out buildings, in your gutters and every where the seeds land. The stumps and roots will sprout until there dug or ground out.
     
  9. Guido Salvage

    Guido Salvage Supreme Saw Whoreder

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    I think that it would be comparable to bamboo in terms of being invasive. Locust will also sprout from the roots but is much easier to control and much better firewood.

    Aspen is also a fast growing tree but has poor flammability qualities eliminating it as a choice for firewood. However it works well for lining your sauna!
     
  10. 1harlowr

    1harlowr ArboristSite Operative

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    I have 28 acres and about 5 acres of it is a reclaimed well site. There are lots of tree of heaven and black locust that grew on their own in the 5 acres. Both are pretty fast growing. The tree of heaven is a pain. They grow anywhere and shades out anything else. The wood is terribly brittle, heavy when when, burns in flash when dry, and rots very very fast. If I have to cut one of these I sometimes keep the wood to burn in the OWB during the summer. There is no way I would bring that wood inside. I don't even consider it a wood.
    Black locust doesn't grow as fast but a BL that is 1/2 as big as a TOH would yield more btus.
    Some of the TOHs I have are over 24" dbh. You can come and cut any of the 100's of them I have. If anyone tells you the make good firewood, they don't know what they are talking about. I'd rather burn pine, poplar, or silver maple.
     
  11. kyle1!

    kyle1! AboristSite Guru

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    others

    Mulberry or hackberry or walnut. These three grow fairly fast with Mulberry being the most invasive. But I don't think locust can be beat for an all around firewood tree so that would be my first choice. You don't care about thorns do you??? :msp_thumbdn:
    I have tons of the ugly locust seed tape pods that I could send you if you are interested.

    Brian
     
  12. Guido Salvage

    Guido Salvage Supreme Saw Whoreder

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    If you have ever planted walnut hoping to get rich off the lumber you would not consider it to be fast growing. :laugh:
     
  13. redoakneck

    redoakneck Addicted to ArboristSite

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    They are not as invasive the more north you go, but in tennessee and south I have seen those things growing in the rock cliff faces that were blasted for the road!!!! YUP growing in solid rock and lookin good, right next to kudzu and hardy fountain grass.


    I have a 6 year old pawlonia tree in my back yard that is 40 feet tall and 11" DBH, so yes they do grow fast. I have seen them sprout in my yard but since they are in the grass they get mowed. I have started them from seed indoors also, grows almost as well as maple in my yard-which I also consider a more pesty weed. The wood is very soft and wet, seems a lot like sycamore around here. I would say this is not a good firewood species to intend to grow. I would grow redoak, black (NOT HONEY) locust, hickory (great smell) , walnut, maple, or cherry.

    It would be best to plant many different species in case one species gets the plague (ash, elm) you don't lose everything.

    The county extension agent should be able to help you if they are not retired or on vacation:laugh:
     
  14. stumpy75

    stumpy75 ArboristSite Operative

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    As far as biomass growth per acre, poplar is not bad. Yes, it's not great firewood, but it grows fast and sprouts from the stump when cut. Start cutting at 10 - 15 years or so. Cut a few acres a year, and you will have a pretty sustainable harvest.
     
  15. preventec47

    preventec47 ArboristSite Member

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    ======

    Curious as another poster claimed the Tree of Heaven was similar to other hardwoods.
    The BTUs all depend on what the dry density is. Now wood that rots fast I do not
    like but it is funny I cannot get the dry and wet density for the species anywhere.
    If it burns in a flash when dry, it is either very light weight or perhaps already half
    rotten ? ? ? Please explain why you would not bring it inside or do not consider
    it wood ?
     
  16. MNGuns

    MNGuns Purveyor of Fine Firewood Consumer of Fine Whiskey

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    Hybrid poplars are big business here in Minnesota for biomass. As for firewood, they can be harvested as soon as five to seven years. A good breed under good conditions can grow 12-14 foot a year or better. I've been a big fan of them for some time, and there is some very interesting reading on the web about them.......that is if you like trees...;)
     
  17. stumpy75

    stumpy75 ArboristSite Operative

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    Didn't realize that you could harvest as soon as 5 - 7 years. That makes it even better! I've always liked poplars too. Nice straight pieces that are easy to cut, dry well and are easy to split.

    I'll have to read up on them some more!
     
  18. burroak

    burroak ArboristSite Operative

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    I agree with tulip poplar. Fast growing, super easy to split. Keep the nice ones for timber, and cut the worst for firewood. Low BTU's, but with the fast growth rate, I think you end up with more overall BTU's in the end.
    Keep a few acres of land for the hardwoods like oak or locust just for some dense woods.

    You have to be stupid to plant Tree-of-heaven. I'm constantly trying to remove them from my woods, and can't seem to get it done. They spread like wildfire and take over the land. Absolute worst tree to plant.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  19. MNGuns

    MNGuns Purveyor of Fine Firewood Consumer of Fine Whiskey

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    I have some six year old hybrid poplars (OP-367 clone) that are 35'+ feet tall. They get full sun and good water from a rainage easement. If I didn't like them as much as I do, they would be ideal size for firewood.
     
  20. slowp

    slowp Tree Freak

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    Three of us cut on a Tree Of Heaven last year. One guy fell it, and two of us took our bucking certification test on it. We all had sore throats afterwards, and the faller had a cough and sore throat.

    The tree can be an irritant. In fact, the fire guys were told to burn it out away from any houses, which made them wonder about their lungs.

    A real, genuine botanist was in charge of this, so there may be some truth to the burning bit.
     

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