Crow’s Nest: Chipping

April 2, 2011

This week I finished chipping our brush piles and winter's storm damage. My favorite species to chip? Sassafras, for its wonderful smell. Of course I prefer them standing and healthy so that they don't need to be chipped…

But much of the storm damage was black cherry (Prunus serotina) which has a bitter smell when chipped. Black cherry is an early successional species, and our woods are leaving the stage of early succession from field to forest, so some of the black cherry trees are declining deep in the woods. Many of the survivors grow at the woods edge near farm fields and so lean out to the sunlight, leaving them susceptible to ice and wind damage as we experienced this winter. Where they fall in the farm fields they must be cleaned up which involves giving some away as firewood, leaving some to rot in the woods, and chipping up the mass of the tree top.

With this last of the winter projects finished we turn our attention to spring: tree planting, prescribed fire, and controlling invasive plants that are already leafing out.