Clemson Extension growing longleaf pine tree stand for education
COLUMBIA — Clemson Extension forestry and natural resources agent Ryan Bean has his sights set on turning three acres of land at the Clemson Sandhill Research and Education Center into an educational opportunity for South Carolina landowners.
Restoration of longleaf pine trees is important for enhancing the South Carolina landscape, Bean said.
“At one time, South Carolina had 7.6 million acres of longleaf pines,” he said. “That figure has decreased and today the state has just 569,646 acres.”
The Sandhill REC plot once was home to pecan trees used for research. Knowing the pecan tree research was no longer ongoing, Bean proposed a plan for a new research project and demonstration site.
“This is a great piece of land, perfect for a forestry education site,” Bean said. “It will be a place where landowners can come and see firsthand how different planting techniques work. They can use this information when planting trees on their own properties.”
Trees have been planted in three different densities – 10 feet by 10 feet (435 trees per acre), 8 feet by 10 feet (544 trees per acre) and 6 feet by 8 feet (907 trees per acre).
“The focus of this demonstration site is to let people see how longleaf pines growing in different densities can be managed,” Bean said. “Landowners typically plant just one type of seedling, either bare root or containerized. On this demonstration plot, we will be able to show potentially different growth characteristics on the same site”.
Bean plans to have educational materials available, including information about planting costs, tree spacing, thinning, benefits of prescribed burns and more. Future plans include field day demonstrations, as well as other educational events.
“I field many questions regarding tree planting and proper care for timber stands,” he said. “It will be nice for forestry and natural resource agents to be able to show landowners and others their options for planting and management practices using this demonstration site.”
Bean also will use the demonstration plot to collect data and reference information specifically for South Carolina.
Trees being planted on the demonstration plot include containerized and bare root seedlings. Grants from the S.C. Forestry Commission paid for the seedlings, as well as a tractor that was used to prepare the site prior to planting. The bare root seedlings were purchased through the Georgia Forestry Commission and containerized seedlings purchased through the S.C. Forestry Commission.
“Our goal as Clemson Extension agents is to bring information and education to the people of South Carolina,” Bean said. “This demonstration plot will be an excellent way to collect local data, as well as educate people about the proper way to plant and maintain longleaf pine trees here in South Carolina.”