July brought a round of severe storms to our area, the severity not seen in our communities for quite some time. According to the National Weather Service, the damage path from the storm was 60 miles long and 10 miles wide. The hardest hit areas saw 100+ mph winds. Over 300,000 acres were damaged with particularly hard hit areas here in Kretz Lumber Company’s back yard. Some of the landowners we are working with lost 90% of the timber on their property. The damage is unprecedented.
As I write this, most roads and structures have been cleared, however the concern now is getting woodlots cleaned of downed trees in a reasonable amount of time. While the damage is hard to look at, a silver lining is that the majority of hardwoods in this area were impacted by straight line winds. Because of this, root balls are generally still left attached to the base of the fallen tree and the threat of the logs staining quickly is reduced. Staining happens when logs sit and aren’t processed in a sawmill in a timely manner (ideally, within a few weeks). Prior to entering the sawmill, logs are susceptible to a staining fungi. September and October are notoriously fast staining months in our area given the changing temperatures. When staining occurs, the lumber grade is lowered. Hence, the urgency in our cleanup efforts.
As you can imagine, resources in our area have been stretched to the max. There just aren’t enough loggers and trucking to haul the cut trees to log yards as fast as we all would like. Additionally, this event will most definitely lead to a lumber surplus in our local mills. Our team is working overtime to assist and support landowners impacted by these storms. If you have storm damage related questions or if you’d like a forester to advise on the cleanup of your property, don’t hesitate to contact us.
A fair number of folks feel that any disturbance days or even weeks before the deer hunting season is to be avoided at all costs because it will scare away the deer and ruin the hunt. The 2018 gun season proved the opposite for Todd Wanta and his boys as the story and pictures below illustrate.
From Todd Wanta: "The Wisconsin 2018 gun deer season will be one that I will remember for a long time. Not because I harvested my largest buck, but because I got to share my hunt with my young sons. On the morning of opening day I found myself overlooking a recently logged area that would provide both some food and a great advantage point for seeing deer. It was not long that my hunch was right; I believe we had a “hot” doe in front of the stand and saw multiple deer. After glassing a couple of young up and comer bucks, I spotted a decent eight point that I chose to harvest. After the shot, my boys Clay (7) and Sawyer (4) tracked the buck for me!
As you can imagine this was a big spectacle and were by far not the quietest tracking bunch, but I got to experience them enjoying the woods. With my eldest in the lead and not so subtly informing his brother to be quiet, to which he completely ignored busting through every available brush pile, they found the buck! After experiencing this I know now that my family has made the right decision by owning this land to ensure that they have the opportunity to hunt. That combined with them seeing what transformations are going to happen in the woods due to the recent logging, I know the future is going to great!"
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:
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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!
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.
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.
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)