Pulpwood for paper, sawtimber lumber, poles, and veneer logs are valuable timber commodities to Georgia's economy. These are the products most people think of and value in terms of tree products since they are used for the building, furniture, pencil, and paper products we use daily.
Trees also provide us with non-timber products.
The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) has maintained a listing of pine straw producers in Georgia since 1987.
In 1989 pine straw legislation was enacted by the General Assembly of Georgia to protect landowners from pine straw theft. A Certificate of Harvest is required for anyone in pine straw production.
A 10-year-old pine stand can yield up to 100 bales per acre every 3 years. Older stands can yield more. Slash, loblolly and longleaf are the species of choice for pine straw production. The primary use of pine straw is as mulch.
Ninety percent (90%) of Georgia's Christmas tree production is Virginia pine. The other 10% is Leyland cypress, eastern red cedar, white pine, and others. Seventy percent (70%) of all Christmas tree sales from Georgia Christmas tree growers come from choose and cut operations.
Approximately 889 trees can be grown per acre (7 foot x 7 foot spacing; 5-year rotation; 6 feet average height).
Firewood is sold by weight, truckload, or a cord (pile of wood containing 128 cubic feet including wood, bar, and air space; a standard cord measures 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, 8 feet long). Oaks, hickories and ash are the most common species used for firewood.
Demand for firewood is seasonal. In urban areas firewood is more for recreational or decorative uses versus as a practical means of heating in rural areas.
Fat Lighter Wood
Fat lighter wood is used as fire starters for wood stoves and fireplaces (note: fat lighter is highly flammable due to its resin content) and as decorative mantle and hearth products. Chemicals for commercial production are extracted from fat lighter wood and stumps. The major competition of fat lighter wood is waxed sawdust logs.
Fruit from apple, peach, pear, and persimmon trees as well as nuts from pecan, hickory, and walnut trees are all favorite products from Georgia trees.
Holly berries and leaves and magnolia leaves are favorite floral greenery for holidays and special occasions.
Honeys from sourwood, tulip poplar, and tupelo trees are popular both for food and medicinal value.
A variety of trees are used for medicinal purposes:
- sassafras - roots are used as herbal tea (sassafras is thought to be carcinogenic)
- witch hazel - astringent
- palmetto berries - diuretic
- willow bark - analgesic
Pine cones are used mainly as decoration year round. Quality slash and longleaf pine cones are popular. Demand for pine cones is expected to increase due to public's view of "natural" products.
Pine Tree Gum
Gum is the extraction of the raw fluid, or resin, from pines trees, predominantly slash and longleaf pines. Georgia was once a top producer of gum naval stores (naval stores name came from early use of gum to waterproof ships). China, Portugal, and Brazil are now the three top producers of gum naval stores due to a more available and economical labor force.
Resin is the source of rosin and turpentine. Rosin chemical derivatives are used in adhesives, printing inks, synthetic rubber, chewing gums, soaps, and detergents. Turpentine in whole form is used as a solvent for paints and varnishes and as a cleaning agent. It is also chemically versatile and derivatives from it are used in disinfectants, frangrance and flavor applications.
The growing of Shiitake mushrooms in the south is a fairly new enterprise. The mushroom is of Japanese origin. The word "Shiitake" means mushroom of the shii, or oak tree. It is grown primarily as a health food and rich flavor supplement to main dishes.
Shiitake mushrooms are grown from spore innoculum plugs implanted in oak or sweetgum logs. The logs are usually 3"-8" in diameter and 3'-5' long stacked vertically and leaned against a frame.
The logs have to be kept wet and cool. Production begins within 6 months of inoculation and lasts up to 5 years on oak. Production per log can be any where from 2-4 pounds (fresh).
Trees for Landscaping
Red and Florida maple, willow, water, Shumard and pin oaks, Yoshino and black cherry, dogwood, sourwood, redbud, crabapple, and baldcypress are just a few species used for landscaping.