While it takes land owners the better part
of two decades to make money off timber. Tree stands can start generating money well before
that, thanks to a growing demand for pines straw.
(RAY) Damon Jones takes a look at why more people
are getting into the market and what they can do to make their product more desirable.
(Damon Jones – Statesboro, GA) Just take a drive around any neighborhood
and you’re likely to see plant beds full of this stuff. That’s good news for landowners
looking to get into the timber business, as the demand for pine straw has seen a sharp
increase over the past decade. (Dr. David Dickens – UGA Professor)
In 2000, the first estimate, the first year that it was estimated was $15.5 million. It
peaked out in about 2009-10 at about $80 million a year paid out to land owners.
(Damon) With those numbers, it’s no wonder why more
people are looking into pine straw as a viable option to make money off their land. And best
of all, they can do this while waiting for their timber to mature.
(Dr. David Moorhead – UGA Professor) It really fits into a situation where we can
start raking some stands as early as age eight, more commonly around age ten and rake on up
until we have to thin the stand. So it’s an early income producer for many properties.
It works out pretty well, and of course, those dollars are quite attractive when you can
generate them early in the rotation as well. (Damon)
However, it does take work to produce high quality pine straw that the consumers want.
And the best way to do that is simply keeping the land as clean and well maintained as possible.
(Moorhead) What most straw producers are looking for
is clean straw and that translates into what the consumer wants. They don’t want weeds,
pinecones, sticks, briars, and things like that. So trying to keep those stands as cleans
as possible from competition, that also helps the stand form better when you don’t have
other competing vegetation out there. (Damon)
Speaking of invasive plants, things like Japanese Climbing Fern and Cogongrass can affect the
farmer’s ability to rake their stands properly. But with a little preventative care early
in the process, those problems can be minimized while also promoting healthy growth for the
Anything you can do to keep that stand clean is really a benefit. And we can do that with
several techniques of manually removing things. In some cases we can use herbicides, particularly
at younger years to keep those plants from becoming established so when we get to the
point where we want to rake the stand, we really don’t have to do a whole lot other
than clean up some sticks and pinecones. That’s the ideal situation.
(Dickens) Other management tools like herbicide use
is very beneficial in that it not only helps making a site attractive for pine straw because
it’s very clean, but also there’s benefit on the wood side too, extra growth because
now the nutrients and water that are present are going to your crop trees and not to a
bunch of under story, and in many cases unusable wildlife plants.
(Damon) As for those people looking to get into the
pine straw business, Dickens first word of advice is to make sure there’s a local demand
for your product. (Dickens)
So I said before you put in all this work to get a stand attractive to rake, you want
to make sure there’s markets for, basically contractors that are willing to buy your straw.
You’d hate to do a lot of work and there’s nobody interested in your straw.
(Damon) Reporting from Statesboro, I’m Damon Jones
for the Georgia Farm Monitor.