Virginia Silvopasture Demo - Shendoah Valley Ag & Research Extension Center

Virginia Silvopasture Demo - Shendoah Valley Ag & Research Extension Center

SVAREC/McCormick Farm

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Comment by Peter Smallidge on June 18, 2014 at 2:40pm

Adam, nice pics.  Did you cut to a residual basal area?  The invasive species highlight and amplify the argument that silvopasture certainly isn't degrading woodlands, rather is improving the productivity, utility, and I think aesthetics.

Comment by Adam Downing on June 18, 2014 at 2:49pm

It's a rough site indeed.  We fee like it can't be any worse than it was.

We aimed for reducing the basal area by about 50%.  From what you said today, that may be too much.  I also wish we had maybe left a bit more as contingency for residual damage.  The logger was very careful and did a good job... just the unavoidable.  LIke you said... live and learn.  There is not much out there on this stuff... lots of learning to do.

From a little paper on the project we wrote up last year.

"The basal area of this site averages around 100 ft2 /acre. In choosing how many trees to leave behind, we aimed for well-spaced trees of suitable quality and characteristics and a residual basal area of about 50 ft2/ac (50% of 100 ft2/ac). Black walnut and white ash comprise the majority of the selected species."

Comment by Adam Downing on June 18, 2014 at 2:52pm

Here is a link to the paper:

It's the first article.

Comment by Peter Smallidge on June 18, 2014 at 2:54pm

I've heard of SP harvests reducing BA to 30 sq ft per acre.  I'm trying to think through the downside of cutting a stand too hard.  If you were doing a shelterwood or seed tree system you would cut it hard.  I'm thinking that it is a regeneration harvest, whether you're regenerating forage or tree seedlings.  The only downside, at least in my thinking thus far, is that your next tree harvest won't leave many options if the current  basal area is too'd need to replace the stand...right?

Comment by Adam Downing on June 18, 2014 at 3:00pm

That's encouraging to hear...

Seems to me that the down side is basically fewer options....  to include Aif some of the trees go into shock, we can't mitigate that by additional thinning.  And if some trees profusely epicormic sprout we degrade quality.

I suppose a potential upside it that there may be enough room to start a second age class...

P.S. is there a way to upload a file, such as a KMZ that will open in Google Earth showing a polygon of the stand?

Comment by Brett Chedzoy on June 21, 2014 at 8:29am

Adam - apparently only the "blog" option allows the option to attach files (didn't realize that until now).  I'm currently marking an extensive low-grade thinning in ~75 acres of our own woods that will hopefully happen later in the summer.  In doing so, two thoughts keep going through my head: 1) Am I going to get enough sunlight on the ground to get to grow cool-season grasses?; and, 2) Will a given tree ever amount to more than firewood?  As discussed above, there may be other justifications for leaving a seemingly low-quality/low-potential tree - but I'm going to seize the opportunity to pull the trigger on most of them during the next harvest.  


Comment by Adam Downing on June 23, 2014 at 10:25am

Thanks Brett.  This will surely be a learning process.  The main issue right now is how to get the logging slash cleaned up such that we might be able to establish some forage this fall.  The contractors are too expensive.

Comment by Jeff Jourdain on June 23, 2014 at 9:27pm

I've got a couple projects in the works so here's a few of my observations/comments.  In both cases they resembled more of regeneration harvests than thinnings - in particular seed tree or shelterwood operations.  In some cases it's a function of a fair amount of low grade material in other cases the hemlock wooly adelgid, and in some cases a lack of regeneration.  Basal area in many places is less than 60 sq ft/acre.  This is done to make sure we get enough sunlight to the ground as well to remove the low grade material.  If you leave too much stocking and have to come back in 5 or 6 or 7 years because the canopy has closed in too much how do you get those trees removed in a commercial operation?  That was one of the thoughts I left the first silvopasture conference with  after hearing some of the target stocking levels of the guys from Missouri. 

In one project there was a whole tree including chipping operation going on, why not get rid of the low grade then.  I haven't tried a practice in a stand [yet] that just required a thinning to say the 'B' line and tried to get forage established.  I'm hoping that they won't turn into as Brett put it 'train wrecks' but we will know soon. 

Adam as far as slash, one of the projects had been in development/planning for q while because we didn't have a good way to deal with the slash and there was going to be large volumes of it.  The job is being done with a harvester and a forwarder and in effect windrowed with about 100' spacing between the rows.  I think we might have been able to do it in a similar fashion with a grapple skidder, but the windrows would probably be wider.  Having a chip market is a luxury when trying to get these practices carried out. 

I think seeding as soon as possible to get forage established is also vital unless you have a seed bank like Brett has.  One cut that was done for a year now wasn't seeded and there are some mixed results.  The project in process right now will be getting seeded in the fall. 


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