What kind of tree is this?
March 16, 2011 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone identify this species of tree and explain reforestation to me?

My husband and I are thinking about buying a piece of land and are curious about the characteristics of some of the trees on it. It appears that the land was cleared long ago to be used as farm land and was reforested in the last fifteen years or so. They planted a row of deciduous trees followed by a row of evergreen trees, back and forth, over the entire piece of land, in rows about six feet apart. So our questions are:

1) What species of evergreen type tree are we looking at?
2) How tall can we expect them to grow in the next say, ten years? They are currently about fifteen feet tall.
3) What's the motivation for the planting strategy? Why plant deciduous and evergreens like this? Will one eventually grow more and kill off the other? Will we have to take half of them down someday?

These are photos I took of the trees over the weekend.
Far Away Close Up

These are the neighbor's trees-which are taller. Are they the same species?

Thanks for the help-I hope these photos are helpful enough to pin this down.
posted by supercapitalist to Science & Nature (5 answers total)
Looks like a Norway pine to me (the state tree of Minnesota.)
posted by empath at 9:27 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

My forester wife would need closer pictures to definitively identify the type of pine tree but they are yellow or hard pines.

Trees will self-prune if they have the appropriate spacing, so they probably planted them with this in mind. They also may have "underplanted" the trees if they had planned to take the pine trees out but wanted to grow a species that needs to establish in the shade. They also could have planted these trees to try to reestablish a forest in the old agricultural field that might otherwise be taken over by "weed trees." However, my wife also says that if you want a solid answer to any of these questions, you need to talk to the person/people that planted them because they could have had many different planning objectives in mind. Do you know if this property is considered a tree farm? The owners should be happy to tell you what their management objectives were for their property, they planted them like that so they definitely had an idea of what they wanted things to look like.
Also, you might want to check with the University of MN Forestry Extension
posted by schyler523 at 9:48 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Was it reforested as part of a CRP contract or a similar program? Those usually last 15 years (which might be a reason they are now selling the land), almost always plant in rows, and can sometimes use odd species combinations and planting patterns.

Your local Conservation District/FSA/NRCS office (sometimes that's all one office, and sometimes they are spread out across several, and some programs may be housed separately) should be able to tell you if the land was in some kind of conservation program, and if so they might have the details of what was planted, when, and with what presumptions.
posted by Forktine at 5:35 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everyone-on your suggestions, I got ahold of the local DNR guy and he is coming to take a look for us and explain what's going on with it. So thanks everyone!
posted by supercapitalist at 11:51 AM on March 17, 2011

To me they look like Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), one of the two dominant evergreens in Scandinavia.

How fast they grow depends a lot on the soil and the amount of sunlight they get. Since it's former farmland, you can probably expect them to grow around two feet per year.

They are used for lumber, in building and furniture, and not much for making paper pulp. You want them to grow tall, with no big branches in the lowest couple of meters. That's accomplished by planting them closely together, and remove redundant trees four or five times over the lifetime of the planting, so they stand more and more sparsely.

Deciduous trees nearby help whip the pines into shape, drain the soil (pines don't grow well when it's too wet), and protect the pines during late-spring frosts. The deciduous trees probably grow faster than the pines and should be taken down before they grow too big to fall without causing damage. It depends on the species whether they are better suited for pulp or cut timber.
posted by springload at 5:22 AM on March 19, 2011

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