Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cypress - an alternative crop tree

Cypress brings images of swamps and huge, moss draped trees. A lot of people do not know that it is a fast growing conifer that works well when planted for a future crop tree. The popular image of the swamp full of bald cypress is because of the tree's traits. It can withstand standing water for long periods of time and resists windthrow, important in soft ground. Cypress is often outcompeted on good sites by hardwoods. It is a component of oak-gum-cypress forests, and is usually only a pure stand where conditions prevent competition from other trees. A cypress planted in good soil will grow quickly, have good form, and self prunes well with proper spacing. The ability for it to grow in poor, water logged soils adds to its crop tree potential. I planted an area the pond floods seasonally with cypress earlier this year. We could not get any information from the local forester in time, so we went ahead and planted 200 with 8'x8' spacing. The idea was to replace some dead oaks with a water tolerant species while adding diversity and a tree useful for timber. The nice look of cypress on a pond helped too. Seedling mortality may jump since the pond has flooded most of them, and we may still have a nutria that likes to eat them. Anybody looking for decent timber production in a flood prone area should consider planting cypress. Here are some sites where I researched my decision:

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