When you decide you are going to start engaging with your land, forest land specifically, there are a few things to know simply to help you communicate better...
Silviculture: What is that?
According to dictionary.com it is "the management of trees" and according to wikipedia it is a long definition starting with "the cultivation of forests..." But how foresters, and how WE will be using the word is "the art & science of managing trees".
Why is the definition of silviculture important to understand? Because of the first two words... "art" & "science"... To start with, art, is important because foresters know that there are a lot of eomplex things at play when managing woods: your objectives and goals, your land type, the amount of land, the weather, your budget, and so on... We understand there is no cut and dry way to manage ANY forest. And like a piece of art, it can vary based on the artist goals and perception (by the way... YOU are the artist). Now the second word, science, is equally as important because we don't only manage with feelings but with scientific research. This helps you understand that our recommendations aren't just coming out of our a$$, but actually based on years and years of research and experiences!
Now that we understand WHAT silviculture means ... what does it include...
Everything from when you start to when you "finish" and then you'll start over again! Within this article though we are going to focus on some of the more intensive, active silviculture of a pine plantation... site preparation.
Take a look around your house... right now... maybe you have a little ocd and everything is in its right place OR it might look like a tornado and volcano tried to make a baby but ended up vomiting all over, or maybe you're somewhere in between... Well your land is just like the inside of your house, oh and the in-laws just called and they'll be over for dinner tonight! So now it's time to clean...
Maybe your land is starting as an ag field, a pasture, recently harvests last week, harvested last year... or maybe six years ago... but just like you need to get your house prepped for the in-laws visti, you need to prep your land for your objectives and goals. And depending on your "starting point" will depend on HOW MUCH and WHAT needs to be done.
*Disclaimer: every forester has a different typical practice opinion, and this is just mine for common pine plantation management in southeast Georgia*
To start with: Ms. OCD... you just harvested and your ENTIRE land is clearcut. Are you ready to plant your pines next month? No... because just like when you FINALLY finished mopping the floors... you have to let things sit (and dry out) for a little bit of time. And just because it looks clean, doesn't mean it's ready to go. Before the in-laws arrive you'll probably do "one last" wipe through and spray a little Febreeze. When you've recently cleared your land, let it sit for a few months and see what starts to pop back up. This way you'll know what you need to do! You may or may not still need to rake up some of the logging debris, but you'll definitely want to herbicide spray to control the competing vegetation, and what you spray will depend on what plants pop back up.
Now the other end of the spectrum: the tornado-volcano mash-up... You have A LOT of clean-up before the in-laws arrive. Will it take work? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. IS it worth fooling around with? Absolutely! Your land was cut maybe six, seven, ten years ago and nothing was done with it... and now it just seems like a large, green wall. Where do you even start though? Well, depending on what your wall is made of, you may be able to get ac hipping contractor to buy it, or at least "take it" for an even trade to cost you nothing. If you're unable to get ac hipper, you will have to get it cleared still... This is like having to put all your shoes and kid's toys away before you can even begin to focus on the other aspects of the house. But don't forget caught up in the mechanical needs and skimp on herbicide spraying. This is your extra insurance to control all that vegetation that grew up originally!
Now, maybe you're more similar to me, and you're somewhere in between the two extremes. Virtually it is hard to say exactly "how much" clean-up you'll need, but just know that you should plan to do some amount of vacuuming, mopping and febreezing...
Remember though, just because you've cleaned up your house before your in-laws came over for dinner TONIGHT, doesn't mean you'll NEVER have to pick-up your house again. If you maintain the conditions, you'll only have a light cleaning in the future to keep up the maintenance. But the idea is to do a thorough job on the front end, and you shouldn't have to do deep cleaning later!
The better site prep you do in the beginning will also set you up to optimize and maximize your pines for your final harvest goals.