Manage Your Arkansas Timberland
Timberland will always produce better returns for its owner if it is properly managed. Whether that management is to maximize financial returns from the timber, increase wildlife capacity for better hunting on your Arkansas, or for some other type of recreation, intensive management will reward the landowner. Following are some suggestions for different types of management.
If you don’t have the time or knowledge to manage your own property, there are numerous forestry consultants who will take the time to understand your goals and manage your land accordingly. These consultants are well worth the fees they charge since they can maximize timber yields and get you top dollar for the timber they sell for you. Proper management of timberlands should yield a good income for generations.
Most of the land in this region lies on excellent sites that support a good quality and quantity of timber due to soil and moisture conditions that are conducive to good timber production. Plenty of good investment grade land is still being offered for sale in Arkansas. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to buy land for your enjoyment or for your portfolio.
If your land is situated on a site that is capable of producing excellent pine growth, and monetary returns from sales is a priority, efforts should be focused in this direction. The majority of the hardwood should be harvested from the land in order to promote enhanced pine growth and regeneration. The pine stands should be selectively thinned as needed to prevent a loss of growth. A more generous spacing of the best pines will result in a much healthier forest and therefore much greater financial returns. Some areas may still require planting and spraying to achieve maximum pine timber yields.
If you have acreage along streams that are currently supporting a mixture of pine and hardwood, it would probably be prudent to continue to manage both species simultaneously. This would minimize soil erosion along the streams and also serve as a natural barrier against insect infestations. For wildlife enhancement and aesthetics it is often the desire of landowners to leave most hardwood trees. Even then a landowner may want to consider removing all sweetgum trees on pine and hardwood producing sites and leave all oaks, hickories, and other mast producing species to grow for the betterment of deer and other game.
When you already own or have purchased land where the timber has been over harvested or neglected, and you need to put this acreage back into prime timber production, some improvements must be made. Pine seedlings will have to be planted to fully reforest the under producing acreage. This planting should be followed by spraying with a chemical herbicide. This spraying will eliminate undesirable hardwood competition and free the new pines to grow unencumbered. Once planted, you can expect to wait twelve to fifteen years before the initial selective thinning and sale.
Sometimes conversion from a very mature stand of pine sawtimber to a much younger more vigorous stand needs to be accomplished. This can be done by harvesting all merchantable timber, performing site-prep work and replanting. This conversion can also be made at a much slower rate by simply harvesting for sale most of the very mature pines and allowing the remaining seed trees to regenerate naturally. Herbicide applications will also be necessary to prevent undesirable competition from choking out the new seedlings. Understory hardwood and shrub competition often slows the growth of the best trees and also prevents the natural establishment of new seedlings. An increase in pine productivity and new seedling survival can be accomplished by means of an aerial application of herbicides. These herbicides virtually eliminate competition from undesirable hardwood species while having no adverse effect on the pines. This is an excellent tool which is very cost effective.
In stands of mixed pine and hardwood, an owner must decide exactly what his goals are. If maximum timber returns are the goal, these areas could be converted to pure pine production through the harvest of the hardwoods, planting of improved loblolly seedlings, and an application of herbicides. If aesthetics or wildlife is a priority, these areas should be left to grow with their present timber composition intact.
Pine sawlogs should always be kept sufficiently thinned to prevent any loss of growth due to overcrowding. Only 30-40% of the timber volume should be marked for sale in a selective thinning, and the best trees should be left to grow toward future yields. Any diseased, poorly-formed or trees showing signs of poor vigor and slow growth should be marked for harvest first. Only then should additional trees be marked to achieve optimum spacing of the residual timber. Pine stands, on acreage with a good site index, in South Arkansas can usually be thinned in this manner every eight to ten years.
Acreage lying on a true bottomland site should be managed in a much different manner. These areas are subject to flooding during the wetter seasons and therefore are best suited to the production of hardwood species. In Arkansas, these areas typically support an abundance of red oak, white oak, hickory, ash and sweetgum. When this timber is ready for harvest, a selective harvest should be implemented. Each tree to be removed should be marked for harvest with tree marking paint. Careful selection during the marking process will prevent a deterioration of the grade of the oaks. If trees on a bottomland site are left too widely spaced after logging, they tend to re-sprout many lower branches and therefore their quality and desirability are compromised. Subsequent thinning can be initiated on most bottomland sites at twelve to fifteen year intervals.