"Regeneration harvest" to restore hardwood forest in TN

JACKSON, TN. – The West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is harvesting 44 acres of pine trees. The three-week-long harvest started in late September and is expected to last through early October.


The pine trees are part of a 235-acre, internationally recognized, certified tree farm at the research center. They were planted in the late 1980s, on land that was previously used for dairy pasture. Since then, the trees have been selectively thinned twice. Now that the trees are 33 years old, they are being harvested for a final time.



Dr. David Mercker, UT Extension Forester, shows a cut pine tree at the

West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. Image courtesy UTIA


“This is a regeneration harvest,” said David Mercker, UT Extension forester at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. “We are harvesting the overstory pine trees because they are mature. They are ready to be harvested. It’s a natural process, much like when we harvest a field of corn or soybeans, and begin anew. We’re doing the same thing with trees. Trees are a renewable natural resource.”


The site will regenerate back to a native hardwoods, including red and white oaks. Currently, for every acre of forest, there are approximately 1,500 saplings already growing. Mercker says at least a third of those are oak or walnut trees.


“Professional foresters are conditioned to think long term. We’re establishing trees for generations yet to come,” Mercker said. “We all like old-growth timber, but we should remember all old-growth timber began as young-growth timber. Renewal must begin somewhere.”


The cut pine trees are being delivered to local sawmills to be processed according to their quality. From there, they’ll be sent to different processing plants to be used in construction lumber, pallets and paper products and other products society uses daily.


The West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is located at 605 Airways Boulevard, Jackson, Tennessee. For more details about research at the center, visit westtn.tennessee.edu.

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