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Fall: A Forester’s Favorite Season

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:

  • Trees that appear to not be growing as vigorously as neighboring trees
  • Substantial defects that may prevent a tree from gaining grade
  • Trees with tight spacing, harvesting one tree may allow us to allocate more nutrients to a healthier stem
  • Trees bordering previously made canopy gaps, allowing for regeneration within the canopy gap
  • Which species the site is best suited for- this property grows excellent red oak. When confronted with promoting either a sugar maple or a red oak, we should promote red oak on this particular site
  • Soil type/drainage relating to species best suited
  • Legacy trees: trees that have a special memory tied to them. In this case a tree that the landowner leaned up against to shoot a 10 point buck years ago while family members were making a deer drive

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.

Apple Brownies

  • 4 cups of sliced apples, peeled
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ cup of oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup (or one bag if I am allowed in the kitchen) of chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix apples, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, walnuts and chocolate chips. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in a greased 9×13” pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Freezes very well.

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