By Jim Kostrzewa, Forester, Kretz Lumber Company

If you own wooded property, you likely have a list of goals you’d like your land to achieve. A land management plan can help you identify those specific goals, establish a strategy for achieving them, and then also set a timeline to make it all happen. I’ve highlighted some of the more popular goals landowners share with me. Do your interests include any of the following?

By: Al Koeppel, Kretz Lumber Company, with insight from Linda Williams, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

This spring and summer, we have found that spruce trees, which include blue, white and Norway species, are under attack. They are being impacted by a fungal disease which goes by the name of Rhizosphaera needle cast. It’s a mouthful, no doubt, and it’s wreaking havoc on our spruce population.

I reached out to Linda Williams, Forest Health Specialist - Northeastern Wisconsin from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to get her insight into the disease. This is what she shared:

Submit your best Wisconsin spring photo!

Get outside and share with us your best spring scenery photo. Enter our contest by uploading your favorite photo to our Facebook pageWe’ll compile all entries into an album and fans will then vote on their favorite. The photo with the most likes at the end of the voting period will receive a $25 Mills Fleet Farm gift card!

To enter our contest:

  1. Like Kretz Lumber Company's Facebook page.

  2. Post your submission to our page by 11:59 pm CST on May 14, 2018.
    Only one photo/submission per person. All photos submitted must be your personal images and cannot be purchased or copyrighted. Image must have been taken in Wisconsin.

  3. All submissions will be added to a Facebook photo album on May 15 and then voted on by Kretz Lumber Facebook fans through May 22. The picture with the most likes as of 11:59 pm CST on May 22, 2018 will win one $25 Fleet Farm gift card.
Monday, 30 April 2018 19:36

Buckthorn and white-tailed deer

By Dick Ballou, Volunteer Coordinator, Cedar Lake Buckthorn Control Project

There is a red barn in northwest Wisconsin, and adjacent to this red barn is a 3-acre woodlot that is not unlike one that might be found almost anywhere. The land was used primarily for nature walks and hunting in the fall; sadly, it is now nearly useless for either activity. The little red barn was once part of a real farm, and years ago it was converted to a popular summer theatre, where the actors, stagehands, and theatergoers all loved watching the graceful white-tailed deer around the barn. But gradually there were fewer animals, and then none at all.

This woodlot had gradually become ‘choked off’ by an invasive tree known as buckthorn. Some tall pines, oak, cherry, and other native trees could be seen above the 12-15 foot canopy of buckthorn, but all that remained underneath was a wall of invasive growth that was so thick that neither man nor animal could enter. Moreover, the invasive growth was so dense that seeds from native plants could not germinate and grow – the ground underneath was plain dirt, with no grass, weeds or other new growth. When it rained there was mud.

This example should serve as a wake up call to landowners who own woodlots – check your land for buckthorn!

Friday, 09 March 2018 09:52

What happens when trees get too big?

Kretz Lumber Company, joined by landowner and logger Rick Peters, head out to the woods of Wisconsin's Shawano County to discuss economic and physiological challenges that can occur when growing large diameter trees.

In order to answer what makes a log a veneer grade log, let’s first define what veneer is. Most people understand what lumber is (logs that are sawn into boards which are generally 1 or 2 inches thick and 4 to 10 inches wide). Veneer on the other hand is produced when logs are put on a lathe and long continuous sheets of wood are peeled off. These sheets of wood are generally around 1/42 of an inch thick for hardwood. Plywood (which you see sold at retail lumber yards) is actually sheets of veneer glued together. Hardwood doors and furniture are generally made from veneer.

Now we will get to the question. Defects are what determine whether or not a log is graded as a veneer log. Knots is one form of defect. A knot is created when limbs prune off and the tree grows additional wood over the area. Knots can fall out of the sheets of veneer during production and they can be a visual deformity. Seams are a major defect, which cause the sheets of veneer to break and come apart. Other defects include bird peck, gum, ring shake, insect damage, color and mineral. Another criteria for veneer logs is diameter and length. Logs that are too small or logs that are too big in diameter affect grade and quality. Logs that are 12 inches in diameter or larger is a common size that is utilized in veneer mills. Logs that are over 30 inches in diameter are generally not desirable because there are limitations to the size of logs that a lathe can handle.

During the autumn months the leaves on deciduous trees turn colors and soon thereafter fall from the tree. But have you noticed that some species retain their leaves until spring? In central Wisconsin this is most common on oak and beech trees. The term for this leaf retention phenomenon is called marcescence, which basically means “hold on to stuff”. On a tree that loses it leaves such as maple, when the nights get longer and the days get shorter, the cells at the junction of the leaf and twig start to divide. This forms a layer of cells that slowly block the transport of carbohydrates from the leaf and nutrients from the twig. Ultimately killing the leaf and severing it from the twig. Ecologists have yet to figure out the exact reason that some species retain their leaves. With this lack of scientific evidence brings on some interesting theories and speculation to why this occurs.

Dry infertile sites are where we commonly find oak and beech trees. These soil conditions may play a role in why leaf retention is important to these species. Retaining leaves until spring would definitely slow the decomposition and would increase the organic material on the forest floor during the growing season for the parent tree. This could give that tree a competitive advantage on poor sites by increasing nutrition and retaining moisture on the forest floor. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 13:51

A major threat to Wisconsin’s forests

Hello Kretz Forest Family and Friends:

It was my turn to come up with an article for the newsletter, so I decided to address a very big concern of mine and one that should concern all who strive to keep our forest healthy: the major threats of invasive species, especially buckthorn and garlic mustard.

These two invasive plants have caused major problems for forest landowners by displacing native understory vegetation, forming an impenetrable understory layer, destroying wildlife habitat and causing long term decline of forests by shading out other woody and herbaceous plants. 

There are two kinds of buckthorn, glossy and smooth. They both leaf out very early in spring and retain their leaves late into autumn. Leaves are dark green and do not change color before being shed in the fall. Common buckthorn fruits are green, changing to black in the fall, and eaten by birds and mammals, yet poisonous to humans. 

Common Buckthorn. Photo: UW-Extension

How did these get here and how do they spread?

Buckthorn was introduced into North America as ornamentals, planted as hedgerows and shelter belts during the 1800s. 

Buckthorn invades woodlands, savannas, prairies, abandoned fields, marshes, wetlands and roadsides, capable of growing in full sun and dense shade. They are fast growing woody perennials and if not controlled they can and will spread quickly. Forest understories can become so dense that native species of wild flowers and woody regeneration cannot compete and eventually disappear. 

(Photo by UW-Extension)

By: Al Koeppel, Forester, Kretz Lumber Company

Whether you take a very active land management approach, or are just starting to think about it, there are a number of strategies you can use to increase the yield of your hardwood stand. Here are four tips you should consider as you think about increasing your forest yield.

Volume and Value

When we talk about increasing yield, we need to consider volume and value. Let’s start with volume. Take any tree in a well managed forest and as you chart its growth, it will generally follow a typical bell shaped curve. We call this “mean annual increment” or MAI. Consider a red pine planted as a seedling. During those first few decades, it experiences a lot of growth. At around age 60, it starts slowing up on volume growth. The tree will continue to put growth on as it will typically live to 150+ yrs. old, but the volume growth per year will slow down.

Now, let’s look at this same red pine and take into consideration its value growth. Do you think that its value growth, or what I like to refer to as economic growth, is the same as MAI? That would be a somewhat typical assumption. The lion’s share of the time this is not the case though. As the tree grows in size and increases its merchantable volume, it also increases in grade. 

Grow high quality trees

Seems like a no brainer, but there is a lot that goes into determining the quality of a tree. Trees are sold by product classes. Wood product classes are based on two major factors: defects and diameter. Our red pine example is generally classified as pulpwood, the lowest valued wood. If no defects are visible, then the diameter of the tree will determine what product class the tree falls into. 

  • Product classes for red pine = pulp, bolts, utility poles
  • Product classes for hardwood = pulp, bolts, sawlogs, veneer logs
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 05:18

Discovering antique Nahma timber maps

By: Charley MacIntosh, Kretz Lumber Company Forester

The town of Nahma Michigan is a very historic and unique lumber town located on Big Bay DeNoc Lake Michigan in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Isaac Stephenson was the first land looker in the area traveling from Oconto. He found enough timber with great river access to start a sawmill on the Sturgeon River. Sturgeon means Nahma in Chippewa. This was 1850 era. Land was purchased from the US government for $1.25/acre. As the years went by BayDeNoc Company built the town of Nahma and purchased many thousands of acres of land. They came north from Oconto (Oconto Company) after depleting the resource there. The company, now BayDeNoc Company, cut their first board in 1881 and had a great run until 1951, where again, the resource was depleted.

My wife and I purchased the old company hotel (Nahma Inn) in 2008. Two years later we bought the old general store mostly for storage, although there was quite a bit of old inventory from back in the days that sparked my interest. Excited to discover all the old items, I came across a box of what seemed to be paper that was going to get discarded. After further review I saw some color and writing. These were all the old company timber maps. Being a forester I was totally excited to see these. They are very accurate and depicted. There are a little over 200, each having their own section. Most were cruised 1895-1896. Each map and cruise was signed and dated by Webster Marble. Webster was a sought after forester and land looker back in the day. Webster put together a survival kit for foresters, trappers and anyone else that would spend countless days and nights out in the woods. The survival kit that Webster had put together took off like wildfire, in fact so much, he started a company to make these kits. This company is called Marble Arms, which is now based in Delta County. Their business makes highly collectable hatchets, knives and gun sights and are known globally. 

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