Brian R. Chandler, Chaney, John A., Crain, John Barry | 11/10/2006 4:01:29 AM
ALEXANDRIA – Tree farming is a good alternative for landowners to consider in making long-term investments in their land resources.
That was one of the messages heard recently at a meeting coordinated by the LSU AgCenter.
Ninety foresters, industry leaders and landowners met Nov. 3 to learn about the latest developments in forest herbicide application and use to enhance forest production. The meeting also served as a chance for them to be recertified in the use of herbicides.
With more landowners planting trees on their property, it is important for them to know how to get a successful start, said Brian Chandler, an LSU AgCenter forester in southeastern Louisiana and coordinator of this meeting.
"The forestry industry is the largest agricultural industry in Louisiana and the second largest manufacturing industry in the state," Chandler said, adding, "The industry contributed more than $4.5 billion to the state’s economy last year."
The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to listen to some of the best people in the forest industry speak about a variety of forest herbicide related topics and to discuss research being conducted in the South.
One trend stressed was increasing tree production on land formerly devoted to other forms of production agriculture.
"More than 34 million acres of retired agricultural lands will be planted in trees by 2040," said Dr. A.W. Ezell, a professor of forestry from Mississippi State University who spoke at the meeting. "And thousands of acres will be planted annually in hardwood species."
Increasing Louisiana’s tree production will help bolster the forest industry and provide additional jobs in the production, harvesting and manufacturing of the forest products, the experts said.
"Landowners should consider forestry as a long-term investment to increase revenue from their land," said Barry Crain, LSU AgCenter forester in Central Louisiana, "And the application of herbicides and fertilizer can help increase their profits. This helps landowners increase the productivity of their land and increase the return on their forest investment."
Trees need moisture, nutrients and sunlight to grow. Limiting competition from undesirable vegetation by applying herbicides will increase survival and free up some vital elements for desirable trees, the experts pointed out.
"I learned that unwanted species could be controlled in hardwood sites by spraying herbicides over the top," said David Young II, a landowner from Natchitoches and manager of 5,000 acres of timberland. "This meeting is a good opportunity to visit with professionals and learn better ways to grow trees."
Studies show that applying herbicides while trees are young helps reduce undesirable vegetation and provides advantages for the desirable species to compete for water and nutrients.
"I learned how to apply selected herbicides to control unwanted plants in my trees – and how invasive species threaten tree farms," said Steve McCorquodale, a landowner from Longville and member of the Beauregard Parish Forestry Association.
"It is important for invasive species to be identified and controlled at an early stage, like cogon grass," said Dr. James Miller, a forestry researcher with the U.S. Forestry Service at Auburn University, who showed color images of the invasive plant species identified in the southern states.
Tree farmers can help reduce the spread of invasive species by intensively managing stands of pine and hardwood trees on their farms, Miller said.
Marty Pousson with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry reminded participants, "Always follow the pesticide label," and "Think before, during and after spraying."
The forest industry is constantly changing, and it is important for land owners to attend meetings like this one to remain competitive in producing forest products, experts said.
For more information on planting or managing forest land in the state, landowners are encouraged to contact a local office of the LSU AgCenter or to visit the AgCenter’s Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.