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Growing black locust in MN1/16
I am considering growing black locust in northern MN a little SW of Duluth. Is a anyone purposely growing black locust in MN? I know it is considered an invasive species but I think there could be a market for it, especially for it's rot resistance and the trend for green products. Anyone think this might work or am I playing with fire, risking uncontrolled spread of black locust?
I cannot comment about the spread of such a species. I assume that you do have information that says it will grow in your climate and soil.
However, it might be 70 years before you get a merchantable tree, as things do grow slowly in northern MN for sure. (Make sure you plant them very close to each other to limit branching. There would also be the risk of insects and disease.
Do you think anyone would want lumber from this species 75 years from now?
The heartwood is the highly resistant part of the tree, so that would cut into your sawing yields, raising your expenses. Plus, the wood itself is hard to saw, dull saws and other machine tools quickly. That would also raise your expenses.
Thanks for the advice. I am at the far end of the growing zones for Black Locust for sure. On of the reasons I was looking at Black Locust was that it is a fast growing tree. I thought I might have something salable in 30 to 40 years if not sooner. I wasn't thinking it would take 75. I am aware of problems with locust borers but I don't know how they spread and what other trees they infest. If they reach my stand I know there could be problems but if am fairly isolated I was hoping that my risk of infestation would be low.
Beside black locust's rapid growth rate I like the idea of a highly rot resistant wood that doesn't need chemicals applied. I like the idea of decks or outdoor furniture that could outlast the house they're with. And I figured that the way people have been going more green, black locust will eventually become a more prevalent building species. I figured the extra cost of milling and tooling could be made up in price because of its durability.
At 75 years until a profitable harvest I need to think about this more. Unless my kids follow in my footsteps they'll get a chunk of land full of trees that are taboo here and may have trouble selling.
Indeed, it seems good that no added chemicals are needed. But do you know what chemicals the tree has added to develop its natural resistance? They might be far worse in human risk. Not everything in nature is safe.
I know that black locust is fast growing in Virginia, but many species are in that climate and soil.ì
I've sawed my share of Black Locust that grows around southwestern PA and it's a tough tree to get decent boards from or make money on.
As Gene mentioned, the heartwood is what you're after, and it does make good decking for exposed applications (trailers, truck beds, industrial decks). However, for residential applications I might hesitate since it tends to splinter easily. So a dock or an outdoor deck or any other place where barefoot traffic would be present wouldn't be a good application. Also, a lot of south american species have good water and rot resistance, are more plentiful and more attractive than Black Locust, and are therefore preferred by builders and contractors.
Locust isn't the best long-lived species, and tends to form bark pockets and open voids within the trunk. Many logs I've received have insects, or water cracks, or excessive branching or all three. I usually get them from tree services, so they are yard trees, since most loggers I know around here won't even pull locust up to the landings.
It is difficult to saw, so if you plan to do so, anticipate the extra costs. I have to change blades, sometimes as often as hourly when I saw it.
I took a quick look around your DNR / forest service and it looks like white oak grows well in many parts of Minnesota. If I were considering your plan, I might also look at White Oak as well. It is similar to Black Locust in that it has good water and rot resistance, is durable and strong, and has the added benefit of being more attractive when sawn. Black Locust is an orangy color when first sawn, but quickly ozidizes to a muted brown that shows defects readily.
White Oak is not nearly as harsh on the tools and sawblades. I rarely have any trouble selling White Oak. In fact, more often I have trouble getting ahold of the logs to saw.
As with Black Locust, White Oak needs competition to prevent sprawling branches, so if you plant it, do so densely, so that the trees grow up, rather than out.
Check out these links:
Also search around for "white oak cultivation in Minnesota" for some more good resources.
It looks like White Oak is plentiful in parts of Minnesota already, so inexpensive sources of adapted seeds should be readily available.
Best of luck.
Can't comment on the viability of locust in MN, but am
I have an area of about 5 acres on my property that
I'd like to also add the just south of this area is
We had a tornado type storm come through 2 summers
My friend with the band mill doesn't particularly
I mention all this because even those trees were
Gene mentions planting close together, and if that
Don't get me wrong, locust is one of my favorite
Not sure if any of the above is helpful, Brian, but
Thanks for the posts. I was looking for a fast growing wood that I could plant and harvest in my lifetime. I knew that black locust was a tough wood but it sounds like it really isn't worth my effort to grow this for production. I have a section of land that has pretty bad soil so I might try to grow a little as a hobby and for the nitrogen fixing properties. I've read a lot of posts on various sites that talk about the properties of the tree and it sounded great, but from what you're saying I don't think there is any way I can make it economical. Time to come up with plan B.
Thanks for all the help.