Wood lot management,where does the orchard end?

My farm is mostly wooded, small fields I plant to orchard,surrounded by large areas of forest.esentially I live in the woods.
I consider the woods an extension of the orchard.with different levels of management. Some old growth areas I do not disturb ( I can not do any better than that.)
Other areas , benefit from management .
Old ,long ago (. ~ 50 yrs , ) abandoned fields abandoned pasture areas
With a good stand of trees
Nature plants things to close, and most trees spend a big part of their life just competing for space.
It’s like you put 100 tomatoe seeds in a 3 ft. Square and expected to get nice tomatoes with out weeding or any care.
Iam a nature lover . And highly value undisturbed areas.
However, some areas can Benefit greatly from thinning.
I try to look to see what is the best thing growing in an area., and what trees are competing and need removed.
Mostly I am interested in increasing food in the forest.
Usually favoring nut trees , oak / hickory. And others.
For the benefit of wildlife , and maybe me.
Also try to grow good timber, while the timber I have may be the most valuable I own, I have no intention of selling it. Like $ in the bank.
Or hopefully saved for perpetuity. Just to look at.?
Thinning around say a 20-40 year old hickory tree can really pay off in future nut yields . These trees are already firmly established , they just need a little help. This thinning is fairly easy to do , and the results last for along time.
I find it very gratifying , more of a personal connection to my wood lot.
It’s like ,hey look at that tree I gave a helping hand to 20yrs ago, it looks so happy. ,!
A good winter project ,I do a little at a time , different levels of management.
Starting with say a 20 yr old hickory , well your 20yrs ahead.
May not be the best nut, but it’s already there, something will eat them.
I consider my wood lot an extension of my orchard, some of it is very wild.

Who else Manages their wood lots


I don’t have an area like yours to manage but I can relate to what your doing. To me there is nothing more beautiful than to walk under the canopy of mature trees. Long gone are the smaller trees and vines that attempted to compete for space when they were young. A little careful trimming and maintenance at a younger age can speed the trees on to where they will eventually be.


I live on what was once a dairy farm. I have a 15-18 acre woodlot I try to manage. I too try to open the canopy around my hickories and other mast producing trees. Every winter I try to spend time in the woods removing invasive species and attempting timberstand improvement. I try to use the hop hornbeam and beech logs for shiitake mushroom production. At the wood edge I “release” the volunteer apple trees and graft them. I want to leave my land is better condition than I found it.

Hillbillyhort you sound like a great steward of your land and I applaud you for your efforts.


When I first bought my small wooded area, I removed the pignut hickories and the oak trees (except for the upland white oaks)…so the dogwoods and sourwood trees and sarvis trees could thrive. Also saved wild black cherry, sugar maples and shagbark hickories when I sold logs and firewood. But, with 20 years living other places, tulip poplar, ash (with borers now) and the nut trees have returned.

It’s a good idea to manage your woodlands. I originally did mine for looks and for the honeybees.

I have intentions of doing more towards making it a ‘food forest’, but without spending the time and work, sometimes intentions are simply intentions. I do have quite a lot of containerized fruits…when situated under trees in the shade, they don’t require a lot of attention. Not even regular watering most years.

There’s my contribution to the topic. Good one.


Yes for honey bees too
I thinned a stand of tulip poplar , favoring the timber type trees .
They responded very well and grew like crazy.also had many more blooms than un thinned areas , bees loved this , chickadees eating seed. ,
Gaps in the canopy brought on a big flush of understory plants, more browes for deer , trees that were girdled and left standing great for wood peckers, much better more diverse habitats, was hard to walk through for 5-7 years , now the canopy has closed back in .understory thinning, easyer to walk in , trees look great !

I also try to favor things like juneberries , mulberry, dogwood, spicebush.etc.


I’ve been fighting elm trees this winter. Chinese elms as I recall. They are dirty trees that spread seeds by wind everywhere. The family planted them on bare prairie in a shelterbelt and around the homestead on the tail end of the dust bowl days as they were one of the trees they could get going. They served their purpose but are a pain now, so I’m trying to move onto better things (including thinning to favor hackberry in the shelterbelt). We don’t get enough rain that volunteer trees are too much of an issue, but these elms are one of the exceptions (along with cedars). In spots too rugged to mow, they are hard to manage. I’m completely tired of elm seedlings coming up everywhere and hoping that I can slow their spread by eliminating the main seed sources before I’m too old to deal with them anymore. The wind was right yesterday to drop another older elm (with a little assist from a truck to make it fall just right). The vibration of a big trunk hitting the ground definitely makes a person respect the power contained in those old trees and the weather they survived over the years.


I just got approved for my cerulean warbler project.
Funds are available to help this little bird.
Also meets my other management objectives.
If you have a woodlot,
In ; wv.,ky, Oh.,Pa. Or Maryland.
check out this program.



Similar for us here in TN, we’re surrounded by mature forest on all sides. Love it, but does make it difficult for gardening, orcharding, etc… My orchard space is on the north side of a hill, with tall trees [oak/hickory/beech/maple/sourwood/etc] making more shade than I’d like.

Outside the orchard space are native black walnut, pawpaw, etc… We have plenty of invasive species to deal with too. I can’t stand to see honeysuckle vine strangling a small tree. I’ve also dealt with tons of poison ivy, multiflora rose, spicebush, etc… Other species are showing appreciation for the reduced competition. I’m trying to treat some ash and hemlock to keep the EAB and HWA bugs from killing them.

Keep up the good land stewardship.


Thank you for posting this information. I just sent them a message to get more information.

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XThe basics of this cerulean warbler program is:
This birds population is in decline,due to habitat lose ,
So it needs our help.
This bird lives in S . America during the winter.
Nests here in summer, builds its nests on horizontal branches
Of mature old oak -hickory trees.
Preferably with a small canopy gap nearby.
So this program its to make those gaps, and thin other trees
To favor big old oak - hickory .
So this fits perfectly with my objectives of favoring the large old mast producing trees. And they ( NRCS ) will help financially to meet those objectives, and it helps this little bird too.
The birds are here now claiming territory, I heard them singing today.
Of course thinning around those nut trees will benefit many other things in the woods too. ( lots more nuts ! )
As I said above, I think of it as a wild extension of my orchard.
( or is my orchard a tamer section of my wood lot ! ? )


Talk to the people at your" local "NRCS office.
They are " wanting more people " to sign up for this.
They want to help you do this .
I think it’s a great program.
Wish more people did a better job managing their wood lots.
And I don’t mean cutting timber for $
I mean growing good , productive trees.


Well .
I started thinning today on a 10 acre plot.
This is my winter project
I did about a acre, in 4 hours, mostly taking out red maple / beach / etc… favoring oak / hickory.
This is the second time I have thinned in this area, first time was ~ 20 yrs ago. At which time I left anything that looked promising . Now , it’s obvious which ones are wanting to grow,
So iam doing some hard core thinning , to favor the best trees.
I have been flagging the trees I want to keep… The best oaks and the best hickorys, also finding and flagging mulberry , juneberries , female persimmons…etc.
With flagging ribbon on the best trees , it’s easy to picture what the spacing will be if you cut out the rest ( junk ).
This is multiple choice for sure !
Sometimes there are two trees next to each other, that are equally good. But to thrive, only one can remain.
Some hard decisions.
At the end of the day if you look down, to many people it looks bad… Trees laying everywhere . Just to rot.
But …!
If you look up.
And fast forward several years …".
It looks like your dream food …forest. !
Managed for sure, all native trees, just given the opportunity to develop to their potential .
I try to space the "chosen ones " so that they can develop a full crown whith out crowding,
Keeping a good understory of dogwood , red bud, juneberries , mulberry .
So tonight, I will have dreams of that 50 yr old shagbark hickory ,that has little competition for quite some time !
The nice oaks / hickorys and I will have sweet dreams tonight.
The red maples likely nightmares !
This is one of the most gratifying things I do. ! ,!
I cut the smaller trees down, girdle the bigger ones , let them stand dead for wood peckers.
Watch the "chosen ones " grow like crazy for decades after .
This particular plot was a abandoned , hillside , pasture,
That the previous owners abandoned ~ 60 yrs ago.
So it’s like someone ( likely squirrels ) planted this for me to manage 60 yrs ago. I feel so grateful , to have the opportunity to help these trees.
Just ~9 more acres to do for my winter project .!
I did 9 acres last yr. … So doable .
I encourage people to manage their wood lots .
So much easyer than the orchard work .


Beechnuts are useful…what you got against beech?

I have a beech forest on the farm.
It is managed as such.
And I leave good beech trees here and there, where appropriate .
What I have against them,…is that they are very shade tolerant and persist in the understory as weeds,to other trees.
Some areas they can be every 10 ft. Under other nice trees.
Not all of which can be productive there. So I thin.
They are, like many trees, only very fruitful when given room and full sun. So I like beech as well as others, and give them respect. Usually I choose what is the best tree on a spot, regardless of species ,and" thin “so that the system is more productive . ( I do have favorites )
(” what do I have against beech "?
Often my chainsaw , if they are to close :grinning:
I try not to plant trees too close in my orchard , as they need their appropriate space.
I see some areas of my wood lot as an extension of that.
Hence , the title of this thread ,“where does it end ?”


Beech can kind of “take over” if allowed to. A big healthy one will usually have no competing trees able to survive close to it. Timber cutters will often times take other trees and leave them standing. Not that that’s my intention, this property won’t be timbered in my lifetime. But… Where Oak and Hickory and similar trees are doing well, I’ve “thinned” numerous Beech from their vicinity. Not to fear though, there’s still plenty of Beech around. We live very close to a historic community named Beechnut City.


I’ve heard beech is tough on chainsaws, but very good firewood. I have some in my wood lot but haven’t thinned that area.

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Do you have beech bark disease were you are? Majority of my beech have it. Often the tree will break about 20 feet up in a high wind. Then a multitude of suckers arise from the root system and they shade out my more desirable seedlings.

No, not here yet !
But have heard of "beech hells, " where the root sprouts come up so thick as to be impenetrable from this ,sounds bad !

I would love to have a woodlot to manage. We settled on being able to walk to stores, work, etc, but I can still dream…

Do you do any prescribed burns? From my reading and talking with forestry friends, it is a great way to manage brush and pests (fewer nut weevils). The biggest down side I’ve seen from exploring areas managed with fire is that it can really encourage poison ivy.

No , no burns here.
I believe it to be against the law here. And after almost dying twice fighting forest fires , I would be very hesitant to set a fire.
Also the risk of it burning more than wanted.
I do think it could be a good management tool if used (contained ) properly.
I am just scared of forest fires !

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