Here in Pennsylvania, we’re having one of the coldest winters I can remember. Cabin fever, colds and miserable weather seems to be the order of the day.
If you find yourself on a rare sunny weekend with some energy and you want to get out and do something, TSI or Timber Stand Improvement may be just the thing while there is nothing much to do in the woods.
TSI is done to favor the regeneration and/or increase the growth rate of the favored trees in the stand. Often, timber stands that have been high-graded in the past have a mix of poor quality and low value trees that take up too much of the growing space and lowering the overall value of the stand in terms of both dollar value and wildlife value.
We can increase both by selecting “leave” trees depending on what you want the future stand to look like. High value trees are also mast producing i.e. oak and cherry. So, we want to favor those species as a top priority. Then we go through and cut the undesirable trees to open up the canopy or “crown release” our crop trees (the trees we are growing for future harvest). There is a balancing act of getting enough sunlight to regenerate shade-intolerant species while saving enough trees to make a valuable stand in the future.
Sometimes, I find it difficult to get enough trees cut to let the right amount of sunlight in. On most state forest land cutting contracts, the contract calls for the cutting of all of a certain species, which is absolutely stupid. We should always be looking for under-represented species to leave as well as very well-formed and vigorous individuals of all species present. Diversity is important as it prevents getting wiped out by insects and disease.
We can also do a lot for wildlife (deer) cover by hinge-cutting and felling trees into brush piles that make good habitat for many critters at the same time.