Forestry Field Day to teach pine plantation basics

Oct. 3, 2011
Contact Information:

Jon Barry, Forest Resources Extension Specialist
Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope

Vic Ford, Director, Southwest Research and Extension Center, Hope

Howell Medders, Communications, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

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HOPE, Ark. -- Landowners can learn to establish and manage a pine plantation at a Forestry Workshop and Field Day Oct. 11 at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Southwest Research and Extension Center (SWREC) here.

The registration fee is $10 for those who register by Oct. 4 or $15 on the day of the workshop, which includes lunch. Indoor presentations and field activities will be from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The workshop will cover how to evaluate the quality of a seedling planting, when and how to control competing vegetation, how to thin a stand, timber security and selling timber.

Jon Barry, a forest resources extension specialist at SWREC, said a pine plantation is usually a good investment with returns over a period of about 35 years that usually exceed stock market returns for a similar period.

Timber prices are closely linked to the housing market, and have declined since the late 1990s and early 2000s, when prices peaked, Barry said. But prices are still well within the range for profitable returns, he added.

“It is a reliable investment that keeps growing, and it is flexible compared to other land uses. You can easily delay a timber harvest for a year or two to wait for a better price,” Barry said.

The timeline of a pine plantation depends on site quality and management, Barry said, ranging from 35 to 45 years.

New “varietal seedlings” planted on a good site can produce returns from a first thinning in 12 years, subsequent thinnings about every five years and a final harvest in about 35 years.

Standard “improved loblolly seedlings,” which are about one-tenth the price of varietal seedlings, will add three or more years to each part of the timeline, depending on site quality, Barry said. A middle option is mass controlled pollinated, or MCP, seedlings, which are mid-range in cost and growth rate.

The Southwest Research and Extension Center is at 362 Highway 174 North. From I-30 west take Exit 36. From I-30 east, take exit 31.