Forestlands Offer Income Opportunities
By Keith Hawxby, Regional Horticulture Specialist
Alternative Agriculture Crops
Over the past decade, timber harvesting has been significantly reduced. This has increased the value and demand for timber on farms and ranches. Good forest management assures a continuous timber supply and also benefits scenic beauty, wildlife, camping, fee hunting, and agro-forestry.
The kinds of enterprises possible from forestland include: Christmas trees, pine wreaths, pine straw, mushrooms, maple syrup, flavorings, pharmaceuticals, medicinals, flowers, bark, roots, native berries, wild fruits, cones, and seeds. Alternative agriculture and horticultural businesses, including deer farming, nurseries, gourmet honey and nut production are also viable forestland enterprises.
Many landowners are now clearing some of their wooded property so they can plant understory species or provide space for secondary crops. Forest trees are usually replaced with walnut or pecan trees. Long term harvest includes logs which could be used for valuable wood. Most of the trees are also grafted with improved varieties so nut production can be realized within 10-15 years. Northern varieties of pecans can be grown in most regions of Missouri. There is a viable market for walnuts at Stockton, MO and pecans can be sold locally from the farm. The MO Nut Growers Association is a source for trees, graft wood and market information.
Other crops may also be produced in the forest environment. Ginseng has been valued as a traditional Chinese medicine for more than 5000 years. China no longer produces wild grown ginseng and depends on imported ginseng for its supply. This is a great opportunity for owners of small forests. The ginseng plants must be 8-12 years old before the first harvest. American growers can expect $500/lb on the international market for ginseng grown organically under wild conditions. Medicinals such as black cohosh, jack-in-the-pulpit, yellow root, bloodroot, and goldenseal can also be grown on the forest floor.
Chestnuts, pawpaws, and persimmons also flourish under woodland conditions. The chestnuts may be included in windbreaks along with the walnuts and pecans. The nuts are enclosed in a spiny husk that splits when mature. Usually 3 nuts can be harvested from each husk. The nuts are usually dried and ground into flour that is used for baked goods. Pawpaws are an understory tree found along creeks and rivers. The fruit are the ”MO bananas” and require a frost to allow them to mature. Persimmon fruit also require cold temperatures to mature properly. The pulp is removed from the large seeds and used in desserts.
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Janet Hackert, Editor
Last revised: 04/23/04
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