It's not all about corn, soybeans, wheat and beef in Nebraska. The state has a significant and growing forest resource. Since 2005, the amount of forested acres has increased by 200,000 acres to 1.52 million acres.
Most of these forested areas, about 88% of them, are owned by small, private landowners.
"Unfortunately, many existing woodlands are in relatively poor condition because they are often considered to be 'waste' areas on the farm and are managed as such," says Dennis Adams, Nebraska Forest Service extension forester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Many of these forested areas have a large potential. "These same areas, if managed properly, could yield substantial income from the periodic sale of wood products, plus enhanced wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and other environmental benefits," he adds.
By applying a few basic forestry management techniques such as thinning, weeding and pruning, the forest trees could grow to their maximum potential.
Adams prefers to look at trees as another type of crop. "The objective of forest stand improvement practices is to distribute the total growth potential to a fewer number of desirable tree species and provide space to allow the crop trees to grow to their maximum potential."
Another aspect of taking care of trees is making sure that weeds are managed properly, without damaging the trees with the use of herbicides.
"Our trees are quite vulnerable to weed sprays," Adams says. "Wind carried herbicides may cause dieback of foliage and in many cases eventual death of the tree."
Adams stresses that it is important to exercise caution when using herbicides, so that it does not have unintended consequences on trees.
"Science has yet to create herbicides that can think, therefore spray goes wherever we aim it or wherever the wind carries it, and not always where we would like it," Adams explains. "We have the power to direct and control spraying, and only the individual on the spraying rig has the power to shut down the spraying operation when it gets too windy."
For more information, contact him at: Dennis Adams, Extension forester, Nebraska Forest Service, 402-472-5822