I have been assisting landowners with the management of their woodlots for over 25 years. As foresters at Kretz Lumber Co. Inc., we spend most of our time within northern hardwood stands marking timber for harvest and setting up timber sales for the landowners we serve. We do this while producing timber products that are used in our industry as well as sawlogs for our hardwood sawmill located in Antigo, WI. We also harvest other timber types but for the context of this article, I am going to keep the focus on northern hardwood thinnings.
In my initial meeting with woodland owners I have been asked many times, “How do you know which trees to mark for harvest within a thinning of a woodlot?” I answer this by first asking them, what are your objectives and goals for your woodlot? Is it good forest management, wildlife viewing, hunting wildlife, income, recreation, or something else? By knowing the landowner’s goals, I am able to gel these goals within the setup of the timber sale and what trees to mark or not mark.
It has been an interesting winter given we haven’t had the below zero cold temperatures we are generally accustomed to seeing by this time of the year. (Sounds like that may be changing later this week though.) With the weather we’ve had, we don’t have enough frost to do a lot of our winter logging just yet. Lack of snow has been great because it has made it easy to get through the woods, but now we need some cold to push the frost down into the ground.
Get to know our new Forester, Blake Persha!
I love the outdoors and have always been interested in anything related to it, so forestry seemed like a natural fit. Plus, my Dad has been in the industry my entire life so I was introduced to forestry at a young age. As a child, it had always been a job I was interested in having when I got older.
I started in mid-December and I have to say I really enjoy meeting and working with landowners. I also love getting to explore the forests around here. No two woodlots are the same and it’s always interesting to talk with landowners and learn about the history of their land.
A lot of people ask me about what what I would do to manage a property best for deer hunting. The answer really varies based on the property, but a few common strategies I generally recommend are: 1) encourage oak regeneration; 2) create bedding habitat and travel corridors; and 3) ensure good food sources are available. Being a hunter myself, I understand the passion a lot of these landowners have. Ultimately, the individual should create a land management plan of some sort and then work with a forester to implement the plan to best meet the landowner’s goals.
If you have forestry related questions you'd like to ask Blake personally, you can reach him by phone at 1-800-352-1438 or contact him using this form.
As we anticipate the snow to start flying, we begin to prepare our winter logging grounds, getting them prepped and ready by opening roads and log landings. Winter is a very important time of the year for logging as we try to ensure we acquire enough logs to carry the mill through spring break up. During the springtime roads get posted with lower haul limits and very little logging takes place so we need to plan accordingly.
Winter logging in low wet areas is dependent on the amount of cold weather we get before the snow. Loggers use equipment to drive frost into the ground so their forwarders and log trucks have stable roads to run on throughout the winter. If they can’t get the frost in the ground, they risk the likelihood of rutting the roads and accumulating standing water in the ruts, which will prevent the roads from becoming solid. A technique loggers will use on skid trails in the woods is to lay brush and tree tops down in front of the machines creating what is called a slash mat. This technique helps keep the equipment up and reduces the risk of rutting.
Typically more logging occurs in the winter time than any other time of the year. This is due to more available people because they have other jobs the rest of the year (construction workers, landscapers etc.). Also in the winter you have the opportunity to harvest in all timber and soil types, which gives access to many more acres of timber.
Another summer has come and gone. Each year it seems to go by a little quicker. Now fall is here and it is time to enjoy our annual blessing of fall colors. I picked a great day to mark timber today, as the colors are in full swing. This particular property I was marking has been intensively managed over the years and is producing beautiful timber. The landowner has taken great care of his roads and landing areas, I did not observe a single invasive species throughout the property. The soil type is silt loam with a well-drained subsoil. The property has undulating contours, which has provided excellent drainage for the timber.
Some of the things we take into consideration as we are choosing which trees to retain for future growth and which to harvest within this particular property are:
As I was marking, each gust of wind showered me with golden leaves. Even the dark shadows under the hardwood canopy seemed to have an amber hue. It truly is a great time of year to be out in the woods. Seeing all of the colors brings back a memory made at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where I studied forestry. I remember during my freshman year a professor asking our lecture hall, “Why do leaves change color in the fall?” to which the lecture hall returned a series of blank stares. The answer to this question is that the chlorophyll within the leaves (shades of green) is breaking down. Days are becoming shorter, signaling to the tree that winter is on its way. The other three pigments within leaves are carotenoids (shades of orange), anthocyanins (shades of red), and xanthophylls (shades of yellow). Carotenoids are within the leaves for the entire growing season but are covered up by chlorophyll, while anthocyanins and xanthophylls are produced in the fall as a last ditch effort for the tree to garner any nutrients left in the leaves. Trees start coloring from the top down, being that the top of the tree is furthest from the root system from which nutrients (xylem) are being delivered. Hopefully you find this as interesting as I do, and are not saying, “Chlorophyll? More like bore-ophyll!”
When my day of marking was through, I was lucky enough to enjoy some apple brownies, one of my favorite fall recipes that my wife makes with apples from our yard. Perhaps you will enjoy them as much as we do. Give her recipe a try. Apple brownies are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a clear, crisp view of fall foliage. The foresters at Kretz Lumber wish you and your family a happy fall and a successful hunting season! Be sure to spend plenty of time in your forest.
Mix apples, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, walnuts and chocolate chips. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in a greased 9x13” pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Freezes very well.
Winter appears to have arrived before anyone was expecting it. That said, logging crews will start looking at freezing roads down to get into their low winter ground jobs. Fortunately for us here in the middle of the state, we are starting out perfect with very cold temps and little to no snow on the ground. This will help to drive frost deeper.
The last few months have been productive in the blowdown areas and we have been bringing a lot of logs into the yard as a result of the summer storms. We are very thankful to the many logging crews both from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan for assisting us in getting many landowner properties cleaned up. Also, we are very thankful for all the work Henry Schienebeck did to get Michigan log trucks able to haul out of the storm damaged areas.
We are continuing to work on blowdown for as long as we can, until either the snow gets too deep or the stumps and tops freeze down too hard in the ground. The hardwood pulp and aspen markets remain strong and look as though they will remain that way throughout the winter. We are still accepting landowners who need clean up done on their property and have been out every week running property lines and will continue to do so until it gets too dangerous. If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our foresters. Thanks for all of your patience and good luck hunting!
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?