Forestry forum features marketing, feral hogs

Johnny Morgan  |  1/18/2017 7:36:56 PM

(01/18/17) WEST MONROE, La. – Keeping Louisiana’s largest agricultural industry growing was the overarching theme of the 2017 Forestry Forum presented as part of AgExpo on Jan. 13.

The lineup of speakers included economists, attorneys, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees and LSU AgCenter researchers.

LSU AgCenter forestry economist Shaun Tanger explained some of the timber marketing issues encountered by small forest landowners. He expects the markets to start showing improvement in the near future.

“Our forecasts are for the demand for timber to increase next year,” Tanger said, “But there’s still a lot of supply to bleed off from the recession.”

This increase in demand will decrease some of the risk for growers, such as insects and fire damage, because the industry will be gearing up to take a lot of timber, he said.

“There are basically three types of timber sales, which are bid sales, negotiated sales and lump sum sales,” Tanger said. “There is also pay as you cut.”

Tax attorney and tree farmer Paul Spillers discussed the income tax benefits that are available to timber owners with proper management.

“I want you to see your trees a little like a corn farmer,” Spillers said. “Corn plants have to be managed over a one-year period, while timber is normally managed over a 30- to 40-year period. But some things like thinning, control burns or applying herbicides have to be done every few years.”

If the forest landowner will properly manage his timber, he or she can expect a number of tax benefits, he said.

AgCenter forest researcher Michael Blazier gave an update on the best ways to apply herbicides in a forest.

He explained the importance of weed management and applying herbicides in the spring when temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees.

Wood Johnson, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said the Southern pine beetle is still a major problem for timber, and they are especially attracted to lightning-struck trees. So thinning is important to disrupt the communication between these pests.

Madelon Carter, a forest landowner from Caldwell Parish, said she attends the forum to stay abreast of what’s new as far as the state and federal regulations and new research ideas.

“The business aspects of the industry are so important to learn,” she said. “And you get that information here from the experts that present here from the Louisiana Forestry Association.”

Feral hogs continue to be a major problem for timber land owners in the state, and research is being conducted to reduce their numbers, said AgCenter researcher Glen Gentry.

“I like to begin these talks by asking who has feral hogs on their property,” Gentry said. “If few hands go up, I tell them to just wait. If they don’t have pigs now, it’s just a matter of time before they will.”

One of the major causes of the population explosion is the movement of pigs from one area to another by humans for hunting purposes, he said.

“Wild pigs love rootstock, and one pig can destroy six seedlings per minute,” Gentry said. “They also can diminish the deer population on your property by 50 percent.”

Gentry is conducting research to look for ways to humanely eliminate the high numbers of pigs in the state. Sodium nitrite is shown to be effective in taking the oxygen out of the pig’s blood through the formation of methemoglobin, Gentry said.

“The process causes them to become drowsy, lie down and expire,” Gentry said. “At the right dose, this will happen in most mammals, but deer and some other animals are less sensitive to the chemical.”

The problem with sodium nitrite is the pigs must eat it quickly before it loses its lethal properties. The main procedure used in the research is to bait the pigs with shelled corn and then offer the actual toxicant, he said.

“More recent research has shown that the pigs also are attracted to dehydrated fish, and poogie is now being used as an attractant for the pigs,” Gentry said.

Richard Williams, the state forester with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service presented information on managing forest for wildlife through cost-share programs.

“Many hunters spend a lot of money on food plots, but there are a number of native species that have high protein levels,” he said. “There are just a few management practices that will help this effort, like fertilizing, occasional mowing and prescribed burning.”

Louisiana Forestry Association director Buck Vandersteen updated the participants on some of the new regulations that may be coming with the new administration.

“One of the things that we hear a lot from the new administration is immigration reform. We need to watch this closely,” he said.

There are 75 to 100 million trees planted in the state each year, and they are planted by workers who come in from South America and other areas that do an excellent job, he said.

“We don’t need to lose that labor because we can’t find enough local workers to plant those trees,” he said.

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LSU AgCenter forestry economist Shaun Tanger, left, explains timber marketing issues to small forest landowners at the 2017 AgExpo Forestry Forum in West Monroe on Jan. 13. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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LSU AgCenter researcher Glen Gentry talks about research to control feral pigs to small forest landowners at the 2017 AgExpo Forestry Forum in West Monroe on Jan. 13. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Louisiana Forestry Association director Buck Vandersteen talks about new regulations that may be coming with the new administration at the 2017 AgExpo Forestry Forum in West Monroe on Jan. 13. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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