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Optimum diameter for harvesting firewood?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by svk, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. rarefish383

    rarefish383 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    This is the perfect size for me. But, I seldom get one that small. I cut almost all standing dead Oak. Most are in the 24+ range. I'm lucky I have 3 farms I can cut on, Joe.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks Out, standing in my field.

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    I fear no tree that I can cut, and I'm always looking for an excuse to get a 32" bar for the 2188...

    That being said, 16-20" seems to be nice to work with. I get 4-6 splits per round, and don't have to cut both sides, so I'm more productive, and the truck fills up quickly.

    As far as managing timber for production, it seems to vary based on species and region. Penn State has some good resources http://extension.psu.edu/natural-re...ools-resources/publications/forest-management that seem to be well researched.
     
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  3. Gypo Logger

    Gypo Logger Timber Baron

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    In the name of sound forestry practice, I'd leave the more dominant trees alone and cut the lower grade trees.
    If we want carrots, we have to weed our garden.
     
  4. fearofpavement

    fearofpavement Trying them all

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    I don't know that I've ever cut down a tree just to get firewood. Mostly I cut trees because the homeowner doesn't want them there anymore or it is already down.
     
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  5. ValleyFirewood

    ValleyFirewood Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I spend all day in the woods cutting firewood trees. Doing a 120 acre clear cut right now, making pastures for horses and cows.

    As far as tree size, 12-18" DBH is ideal. I've had to process loads and loads of "pecker poles" before (where an 8" DBH is big) and wow its slow going! Takes what feels like 50+ trees for a cord! And they are a pain to gandle, get all crossed up in the log piles and on the processor decks. (Even worse when frozen,
    The bigger stuff seems like 3-4 trees and all done.
     
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  6. Jere39

    Jere39 Outdoorsman and Pup

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    I cut standing dead exclusively, and predominantly Red Oak. Sadly, these majestic dead Red Oaks are typically over 20", and mostly 32-40" DBH. Fortunately, I am cutting on my own land, and have no urgency to load and run. So, I process where they drop, and since these nice dead Red Oaks have beautiful straight grain, they split nicely. Many of the rounds are too big for me to lift, but in the cold weather they almost pop apart with a maul and splitting ax. I rarely get a nice 16-18" tree, but I admit they are nice to split.

    IMG_6972.JPG
     
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  7. Woody912

    Woody912 ArboristSite Guru

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    Is firewood your only goal? I try to practice woods mgmt., taking out the crips and deads and undesirables and leaving the straight stuff to be sold for logs eventually. Those big trees are adding a lot of volume every year that you probably do not notice.
     
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  8. Woody912

    Woody912 ArboristSite Guru

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    What do you think is killing these red oaks? I think I am going to try to sell some good butt logs before they deteriorate too much. Have plenty of firewood but never enough $$. Your logs look pretty clear and straight
     
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  9. svk

    svk Firewood and Saw Collector

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    Good points.

    I was originally wondering at what point should wood be harvested for maximum volume of timber per years needed to grow. Watching two chunks of land that were harvested 25 and 30 years ago respectively, they both have timber ready to cut but wondering when is optimum as eventually the grown rate really falls off.
     
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  10. Woody912

    Woody912 ArboristSite Guru

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    I think you can learn a lot by looking at growth rings on cut stumps as far as diameter increase but then ya gotta do the math. 1/8" diameter increase on a 28" dbh tree probably exceeds 3/4" increase on a 10". Crowns and canopies can also show you some things, some maxed out old trees get really flat topped
     
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  11. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling ArboristSite Guru

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    I agree with you. I love splitting oak that size. I do the same as you, stand it up with a pickaroon then start taking off slabs from the outside and work my way in.

    Here's a big red oak round i split up last year. Handle on the GB maul is 32" I think.
    rps20170111_093146_519.jpg

    I counted splits as I made them. It came out to over 90. I do split them pretty small, though. rps20170111_093251_242.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. muddstopper

    muddstopper Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I have never liked bucking and splitting in the woods. Processing big wood just takes to long and you have to handle every single split multiple times. I usually haul my wood home in 10ft lengths on my dump trailer, dump them next to the wood pile and buck and split when I feel like it. This method always depends on having a way to load the logs. If I get my wood from loggers at their site, its always butt uglies and large dia, but they give me the wood and load it for free. Once I get it home I have the ability to deal with the big wood. Sometimes I am offered wood from around a house where a tree had to come down, Ifs it small enough I will buck it and throw it on the trailer. Enough of it and I might take my splitter and process it on site, but that takes time I dont always have. I have the material to mount a boom on my dump trailer, just havent gotten around to doing so. With a winch mounted on the boom, I could drag a log to the trailer and load it without breaking my back. A big tree would be no problem, just cut to a length the winch and boom could handle. Loading logs and hauling home might add a little total time to processing, but it would be time I could more easily manage. Having a boom on the trailer would also mean taking trees I would normally leave behind if I dont have a fel or knuckle boom handy. 4 loads a year will keep my stove fed for a season. 5 loads gets me ahead. With the right wood, I can haul that much wood in a single day, location dependant of course. I can process it when I have time, hour here an hour there until its all done.
     
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  13. Jere39

    Jere39 Outdoorsman and Pup

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    I've been told it is Oak Wilt, that primarily kills Red and Pin Oak in this area, and more or less leaves the White and Chestnut oaks. That is certainly my experience here in this 100 acre wooded hill top. I can't personally, and with only my 4 legged helper keep up with the number of Red Oaks that die every year. If it is Oak Wilt, it will probably kill all the Red Oaks. Seems like Beech is replacing the dead oaks in the middle of the woods, and Tulip Poplar is replacing them around the edges. Not a great replacement for the long haul, but the Beech and Poplar are growing very big now, in some cases bigger than the oaks, if no older.
     
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  14. Woody912

    Woody912 ArboristSite Guru

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    That is my thought also. We had a bad outbreak of tulip poplar scale a few yrs back and now EAB is knocking on our doorstep. Gonna try to cut and sell what I can of this stuff before it goes bad. And need to start thinning the beech as well and replanting something!
     
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  15. dancan

    dancan Tree Freak

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    Mighty Mouse Logging LLC
     
  16. SeMoTony

    SeMoTony ArboristSite Guru

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    I've read that the Missouri Ozark woods average 2" diameter increase each 10 years.So the growth tends to be exponential with regard volume or board feet. A46" dbh red Oak was around 147 years from a man's yard.He moaned about having only half as many oak trees as when he bought the place.Different areas differing milage
     
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  17. johnnyballs

    johnnyballs ArboristSite Lurker

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    all those beautiful noodles on the ground there...
     
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  18. square1

    square1 ArboristSite Guru

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    The points being made that it varies by species are good from woodlot management perspective.
    Fire wood I prefer 12-18" and pretty much only cut what is dead, blowndown, or the limbs / small upper stem from a tree going to the mill.
    Much bigger than 18" and the the processing becomes increasingly difficult enough for me to avoid making firewood from it, plus at that diameter & up the mills become more interested in the wood,
    Much less than less 12" is death by a thousand cuts.
    At the end of the day, I don't leave much of a felled/downed tree in the woods, but having my druthers, I'd druther do 12-18" for firewood.
     
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  19. Ryan'smilling

    Ryan'smilling ArboristSite Guru

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    On the topic of small diameter wood, I bought a new syrup cooker this year. One thing I'm excited about is that it will take larger pieces of wood. Burning stuff that's 36-48" long and 5-6" in diameter is just fine. I think that will really help my efficient when dealing with little stuff.
     
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  20. Logger nate

    Logger nate ArboristSite Operative

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    Sure fun to cut big ones sometimes (not firewood) IMG_0247.JPG this one was definitely past it's prime.
     
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