Author: 800 CHAB News / Sask Ag and Food

If you have been considering producing trees on your farm, the Saskatchewan Forest Centre has scheduled three field days during the month of July that you might find useful to attend.

These events will include discussions on the establishment and management of tree plantations on farms, vegetation and weed management, pruning hybrid poplar, hybrid poplar clonal trials and silvopasture (tree farming) management, explains Larry White, an Agro-forestry Specialist with the Centre.

"On the morning of July 13, we are touring Vern Anderson's hybrid poplar planting at Rose Valley to look at his three-year-old hybrid poplars. In the afternoon, we will be going to Zosel's Tree Farm at Pleasantdale to look at the hybrid poplar clonal trial. As well, we are going to Bill Sullivan's silvopasture project at Pleasantdale. The last stop in the afternoon will be at Bruce LeBarre's at Pleasantdale to look at a hybrid poplar and larch planting that he did three years ago."

White says anybody considering silvopasture would find it well be worth their while to come out for the day.

A second field day, on July 20, will go to Craik's Eco-Centre, where there is a forest 20/20 demonstration plantation that was planted in 2004, and, in the afternoon, to Neil Kettilson's site at Blackstrap Lake.

There are interesting hybrid poplar plantings worthy of a visit there, according to White: "We want to see how it is done; talk about weed control and other issues; different clones, planting and maintenance of hybrid poplar sites."

The third field day, on July 25, will take participants to Meadow Lake.

"We will be taking a look again at hybrid poplar clones; at some fertility work that is being done there and at weed control. The Meadow Lake planting is approaching nine years old now, so they are getting some reasonably mature trees. This is a chance to see some older plantings of hybrid poplars."

White believes these field days are a good opportunity for people to get out and meet some of the specialists in the industry.

"There will be representatives of the University of Saskatchewan and the PFRA Shelterbelt Centre at Indian Head, as well as the farmers who have participated in the projects. It is an opportunity to talk to a few people in the know and to see what some of these plantings look like, as well as to gauge the viability of the silvopasture option. There is always the question: 'can I make money doing this?'"

White reports that there has been lots of interest from landowners in the last couple of years in returning some of their cleared land back to some permanent cover, either grass or trees.

"People often say to us: 'They are closing down pulp mills and you guys are promoting growing trees.' But there are other opportunities in wood products, whether it is engineered wood products or the opportunities here for using tree biomass for energy production in the future. There are a lot more uses for tree biomass than just pulp."