Jay Hayes

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since Dec 20, 2012
I'm a practicing forester.  I grew up on a not so progressive cattle operation.  I travel most of the year for work and manage 130 acres in central Missouri in the off season for fun. 
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Recent posts by Jay Hayes

I have had some experience with the tree.  I can't confirm that it grows well north of Missouri...but I can confirm that it has a tendency to spread and while it has lovely leaves and impressive flowers, it is not a very good yard tree.  I would caution against planting it too near a structure.  As is common, its fast growth yields very weak wood.  The larger trees I know of, 20" diamter at breast ht, all have large limbs that have snapped off throughout the canopy.  

To be honest I'd suggest planting a silver maple for your fast grower.  They have the same spreading issues (they also tend to clog gutters with their seeds), and weak wood, but they are native and I guarantee a silver maple will hold together for the few decades you'd want it til the hickory was established.

Just some thoughts.  
3 years ago
Hey Bonnie,

I thought I'd add my two cents to your post.

I regularly work in the Forests of Arkansas and Missouri and spend a lot of time in the Big Pine woods.  Loblolly pine is a really impressive species, but I'm not sure it is the ideal one for your needs.  If you were planting your pecans in a spot that was similar to where you'd find them in a natural forest, commonly in riparian areas and flood plains, you'd be in good shape to pair them with Loblolly...the thing the state website you looked at might not have mentioned is the native range of loblolly, while vast, was generally restricted to mesic sites.  In dry and upland areas several other species of pine compete better with periodic drought.  When you mentioned the pine woods of Arkansas you were spot on that many of the privately owned plantations were loblolly...but that is mainly due to their agressive growth characteristics and the extensive breeding work that has been done to create several hybrid generations of the species that produce traits desired in the wood products industry.  In the historic forests of Arkansas, and most commonly on the Ouachita National Forest today, Short leaf pine is the most common upland pine species in the pine forests of the Arkansas and Oklahoma Ozarks.  Short leaf is uncommon in private plantations becuse it grows much slower than Loblolly does.  The other thing one will notice when comparing range distributions maps of the two species is the northern restriction of Loblolly.  When you said you get ice, I imediately thought loblolly was wrong for you.  The tree form, branch attachment, long delicate needles and fast growth of loblolly all create a tree that falls apart top to bottom in heavy ice.  Short leaf pines grow successfully into Missouri and withstand ice considerably better.  

In short,  I'd suggest looking at planting short leaf pine on your site.  Shortleaf are native to Oklahoma, they commonly grow to canopy height of 60-90, they have a desireable form and can live for hundreds of years.  Ontop of that Shortleafs tolerate ice better than loblolly and commonly grew in savanah and woodland densities that would be of a similar tree spacing to what you would need to give enough sunlight to your pecans.  

Just some thoughts.  Hope they help

3 years ago

I am interested in Hicans. I only recently learned of their existence and have yet to find a good seed source. Do you have any suggestions? Could you share any advice on starting to growing them?

I recently ordered several varieties of American persimmons from Hidden Springs nursery with plans to graft onto many non-producing persimmons on my farm. I have only found a bit of info on grafting persimmons. Do you have any experience?


6 years ago

I too live in Missouri, and I too found a good sized pile of wild Bradford pears growing in some fence rows on the farm last year. Just prior to the buds popping last spring I cut the trees off about 6 inches above ground then dug up a big chunk of roots on 6 of them and transplanted them to an orchard site I have going. I then cleft grafted on European varieties of pears (I believe Bradford pear has European origins so Asian varieties will not be compatible) I had acquired, I had about 60 % success on the grafts (mostly due to inexperience I would guess). My grafts all sprouted again this spring and seem to be taking off nicely. The trees I dug up ranged from 1-2 inches in diameter where I cut them off.

The best thing is all 6 trees I dug up last year are sprouting from the roots in the fence rows again, so I plan on digging up more roots this fall and transplanting them too. Now that I am looking I notice volunteer bradford pears in many parks and roadsides around town. It seems that a huge quantity of decent root stock is free for the taking.

Hope your graft keeps on keeping on. Please post anymore successes you have with this.

I just read Alder Burns comment about grafting Asian pears onto Bradford roots. I defer to his experience, it is greater than mine in this realm.

6 years ago

I think your question is, do you need to put the wound care goop on the fresh cut oak stump to aid in sprouting? If that is the question the answer is definitely "no". I work in the forestry/logging field and a great deal of natural regeneration in the oak woods in this area comes from stump sprouts. Most oak species will sprout aggressively and you have done all the work necessary to facilitate that. The sprouts will come from dormant basal buds around the root collar of the tree and while they will be attached to the stump while it rots they are connected to the existing vascular system below the cut, so there is very little worry of rot entering the new stems. If you were to thin the sprouts down to a single stem over time then wait a few decades it would be very tough to see a difference in the base of the sprouted tree from one grown from seed, the old stump will start to rot and that will not adversely affect you new tree/trees. I'm guessing you will keep cutting these back every few years and have the same results.

I hope this helps and that I understood your question.

6 years ago

From your description I would say you do not have a scarlet oak. Scarlets (Quercus Coccinea) are a red oak group and look a bit like Pin Oaks (Quercus Palustris) in bark, leaf, and acorn morphology. Generally they have very small acorns, like the size of a normal adults thumb nail. The diagnostic feature for Scarlet oak acorns is pronounced concentric circles surrounding the point on the bottom of the acorn.

6 years ago

I am working on something similar on my farm. I am fortunate to have about 20% of my wild Honey Locust be naturally thorn less. While I do not know this to be 100% true, I have read in several places, and found it to be the case the 1 time I have grown out thorn less HL from seed, the majority of seeds you collect will produce thorns. Two years ago I stopped at a rest area in Iowa and picked a ton of pods off the ground from a small grove of ornamental thorn less HL. I was guessing they would have been pollinated by each other and have a good chance of passing along the thornless trait. I was wrong. Of the 100 I grew out all that survived had thorns. I scrapped that project.

Commercial nurseries sell grafted HL trees to pass along the thorn less traits, as you mentioned they seem to have selected their varieties for lovely golden fall color and the fewest # of pods to fall in your manicured yard. I have been top killing my thorn covered HL trees with a plan to graft on scion wood from some of my thorn less ones, this spring has gotten away from me so it has yet to happen. Please follow the link below to a brief write up I found on this sort of thing. There is some very helpful grafting recommendations on page 4. In the studies they sited specific named varieties that were used, since they were using the trees for forage I am guess they selected for both thorn less trees and maximum pod production? If you can track down one of the varieties named in the study you could use it for scion wood and copy them, otherwise I am guessing once the trees are growing you will have to select the best pod producers and propagate those, both will work, one will take longer.

Good luck, please share results.


Well, after a bit more looking here is a link to a recommended nursery from that study. It lists a number of HL varieties they offer (it even mentions using them for forage) and encourages one to write in with any questions. Perhaps this would be a better resource than my random speculations?


6 years ago

For what it is worth I have experience in this sort of realm, and the simple answer is that if it were that easy it would already be done.

I agree with most of what Dan said. The one caveat would be that where you are wanting to do this project will determine what commercial forestry looks like. There are many many parts of this country where plantations and forestry mono crops are not the norm and do not bring enough return on investment for them to ever become the norm. Nearly everything else he said is spot on, right down to the difficulty in finding foresters and contractors who would be willing to give your project/management philosophy the time of day. When working with timber you usually pay your bills with the quantity of wood and make your money on the quality. In many locations you must have more than 40 acres to be harvested to justify a loggers fixed costs in moving machinery to a site. With that small of a tract you will have to cut it pretty hard to get enough dollars out of the woods to attract a consulting forester on a % basis. The more acres you own the more options you have and the better your management can be. I was chief forester for a 160,000 acre landowner and I could manage much differently that most foresters because of the resource base at my disposal. I literally had enough land to keep loggers in work for their entire lives, if you only own a few hundred acres it is much more difficult.

The real trouble with timberland investing is the long term nature of the beast. It is nearly impossible for an average joe to get a raw land loan on speculative timber ground, even with a solid business plan, you must build a house or run cattle for most banks to even look at the application. Even though forest economists will show long term returns of 10% or so on timber those calculations have to be grown out over 50-100 years and it is very difficult to assume prices at that sort of a time range, those rates include increase in land prices as well, and that is not usable income if you plan on keeping the land. An average annualized return on hardwood timber ground managed conservatively using single tree selection methods (not clear cutting, doing commercial thins every 15-20 years and always leaving the best quality trees for future harvest) will only be 1-2% for the first 30+ years. Of course those numbers really depend on what the tract of timber you find is, but it is not easy to find quality timber ground in small enough acreages to afford with good enough timber standing to pay off the land costs in a life time. Those tracts have been bought long ago. If you find one BUY IT! I still work in the industry and the only folks buying timber ground commercially right now are paying top dollar, clear cutting it then splitting it up into 20-40 acre "hunting" tracts. They are making their money off the real estate more than the timber. With current timber/land prices in the areas I work (currently the mid-west and upper mid-west) I have yet to find a piece of ground that I could buy and pay off with just timber dollars without having to rape and pillage, and I am looking. If you look at most of the large timber companies in the U.S, think Plum Creek, Potlatch, Weyerhauser, they are now REIT (real estate investment trusts) not technically timber companies, this has specific tax benefits, but it also allows for land speculation as well as timber production.

So...is your plan possible? Sure, the gentleman I worked for paid cash for 160,000 acres of mostly cut over land in the 1950's. He hired a forestry staff, began light thinning harvests, and within a few decades was breaking even on the operation. Fast forward 60 years, the forest is worth 250 million dollars with over a billion board feet of standing hardwood timber and the annual income from timber sales exceeds the initial invested amount for the land in 1950. If you talk to the company accountants they want to sell the land and invest in ANYTHING else because the annual rate of return is less than 1% of total land valuation...forest economics require a long term approach or it doesn't make sense. You could replicate this model but you must have enough money to pay cash upfront, if not the numbers become very hard to make work considering the sporadic nature of timber harvest income (at best 1 out of 10 years on any individual tract) the best case scenario annual rate of return and the reality of making payments every month on the land. You are totally right that once you get that first piece paid off you could begin a slow snowballing effect and expand the operation, but I will warn you that you MUST buy the right pieces of land every time to make that work. Not all trees nor timber ground are created equal. Discounted land is usually cheap for a reason and quality land is usually expensive for a reason. Also, consulting foresters are generally expensive and grumpy folks that can be tough to work with and bring on board for out of the box ideas.

Good luck on the project, I'm not trying to put it down, but there are some long term planning and financing issues that will be important to figure out to make this work.

6 years ago

What species of pine are the wood peckers attacking? Red, White, Jack? If it is Red Pine the trees being attacked almost certainly have red heart fungus. I'm not certain if white pines get that or not. It is not a particularly terrible thing, but it does represent an older or less vigorous tree and one that has little to no use for lumber as the heartwood is now a brittle mess. Wood peckers don't really have the ability to excavate a cavity to the center of a tree without the aide of rotten wood inside. Many species of larger peckers will nest exclusively in large red hearted pines throughout the mid west and south. Since the strength of trees is mostly compromised from a rotting core there is little to worry about from the added damage from the woodpeckers. They really aren't hurting much. There is pretty much no chance you will convince the birds to move into aspen trees. Chances are they are much younger and less rotten, and the life history of many species of wood peckers will draw them to pines regardless.

Hope the info helps as I have very little helpful advice.

6 years ago