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Mr. Smarty Plants - Fast growing native trees for firewood in New Hampshire

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Thursday - September 25, 2008

From: Concord, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Fast growing native trees for firewood in New Hampshire
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you tell me what FAST growing tree is best for a planned crop? We plan to generate new tree crops every year. We want to use this wood for burning in indoor wood stoves and maybe in an outdoor wood furnace for heating our home. We also plan to sell some of it. We live in zone 5. Any help would be great because the research I have done recently has led me only to a few trees that are now on invasive plant list in New England..don't want to go there!! Thanks!!!

ANSWER:

This sounds like a business plan being formulated. And we're very glad you are avoiding fast-growing trees that can be invasive in New Hampshire. We wouldn't recommend any of those anyway, as they are usually non-natives and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is focused on the use and propagation of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. Since we're gardeners and not business consultants, we are going to refer you to our Recommended Species section. Click on New Hampshire on the map, and Narrow Your Search  by selecting "Tree" as the Habit. This will give you the names of 31 trees native to New Hampshire. Go to the webpage of each; they will  not always specify the speed of growth but you can go down to the bottom of the webpage and follow the link to search Google for the specific plant name, and get more information and, perhaps, speed of growth.

As we said, we're not business people, but the thought of planting native trees with the sole purpose of cutting them down and burning them is a little painful. Since most trees will need a good twenty years to get to be of any size it will be a while before you could hope to realize any utility from them. Many trees grow best from seed, because of taproots that make transplanting difficult. This, however, takes even more time before the tree is mature. You didn't say how much land you had available for this project, but all trees require considerable growing space between them.

You need to also consider how much longer the use of wood as an energy or heat source will be allowed. This US Environmental Protection Agency website on Cleaner Burning Wood Stoves and Fireplaces will explain some of the problems. The Department of Ecology of the State of Washington describes the existing situation there with particulates during the winter months from  woodburning stoves.

 

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