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Sustainable Lumber

We only want the middle part anyway.
  [vote for,

I wonder if trees could be grown, and instead of being cut down completely, be harvested by cutting a large section out of the middle. The developed photosynthesis asset (ie. the tree top) can then be grafted back onto the root. I'm thinking subsequent regrowth to harvestable size may occur faster than growing from seed since much of the organism is already developed.
LimpNotes, Jul 23 2014

Harvesting boards from living trees http://www.straight...o-grow-square-trees
The second half of the article is the most pertinent. [AusCan531, Jul 23 2014]

Tree Shaping Grafting https://www.google....l&tbm=isch&imgdii=_
Fascinating stuff. [LimpNotes, Jul 24 2014]

Treethedral It's unbeweavable. [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jul 24 2014]


       This would have to be done to a whole stand of timber at once, and a monoculture at that; otherwise, shading by neighbouring trees would affect the harvested specimens.   

       But given that grafting works, and presuming infection can be excluded while the joint re-grows, it might work.   

       However, the join will always be a weak spot. The heartwood won't fuse - it's dead - so only new rings of growth will provide support. Large amounts of a non-toxic adhesive would be indicated.   

       Could be useful for fruit trees though. No ladders needed for picking.
8th of 7, Jul 23 2014

       Instant thought (before fully reading) was 'coppicing, done all the time'... but no, this is different.   

       How about a bloody great dowel rod running vertically through the heart wood to go with that glue [8th] (slightly counterproductive mind, uses some wood you just harvested, so maybe we should use something other than wood as a dowel rod?).
Skewed, Jul 23 2014

       //The heartwood won't fuse - it's dead//

So after a few hundred years of harvesting, presuming the trees become sufficiently girthy, we could hollow them out and make cottages.
LimpNotes, Jul 23 2014

       //weak spot// //infection// //glue// //dowel//

Cut the stump down into a cylindrical peg, bore a hole in the tree top part, thread with a big tap and die, apply glue and antimicrobial, and screw them back together. Treat the joint with grafting compound.
LimpNotes, Jul 23 2014

       It would need to be done in winter when the tree is dormant, which would be the time of most risk of high winds which might damage the graft.   

       Apart from that, what [LimpNotes] said.
8th of 7, Jul 23 2014

       Fruit trees are already often grafted to dwarf root stock to keep them low for picking.
You don't need to graft anything though. The cut stump will divide and grow into two trees with the stump acting as a mother log.

       Yay, heartwood.   

       More bamboo?
RayfordSteele, Jul 23 2014

       //You don't need to graft anything though. The cut stump will divide and grow into two trees...//

If the leaves are the power generators of the tree, and the tree top is the infrastructure (the powerhouse), then recycle it, so the plant doesn't have to rebuild it. The surplus energy goes into faster growth. Dominant branches become the sections for future harvests. I think this would save years, perhaps decades, of growing time vs. starting from seeds or basal shoots.

//More bamboo?//

A favorite of mine too!
LimpNotes, Jul 23 2014

       Why not artificial tree tops?
Voice, Jul 23 2014

       Or, just help the tree to grow much, much taller than usual before harvesting.   

       WIth suitable scaffolding, and perhaps a constant- force pull on the crown, the humble oak or pine might be persuasible to grow to redwood-like heights.   

       Then again, maybe just plant redwood.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 23 2014

       This practice is called pollarding when up high, coppicing when down low. Either can be good; both have long histories. Wikipedia has good articles.
bungston, Jul 23 2014

       No this is not pollarding or coppicing, this is middling.   

       My question is, after you have chopped out the truck and grafted the crown, will the truck re-grow? Or will the crown just sprout lots of new long thin poles longer and higher? Like a coppice but with pre-formed shoots rather than brand new shoots? I suspect so, and that means that the second harvest will be much harder than coppicing as the secondary shoots will be much less regular than coppice poles.
pocmloc, Jul 23 2014

       // after you have chopped out the tru[n]k and grafted the crown, will the tru[n]k re-grow?//   

       I suspect not. Mature trees grow from their branch-tips, and by adding extra layers around the trunk and branches. This is why, if a branch starts out 10ft above the ground, it will always be 10ft above the ground - the trunk below it doesn't lengthen.   

       Your demiddled tree, if it survived, would become fatter, but its branches would always be close to the ground.   

       Still, it's an interesting idea. I'd quite like to see a mature tree whose canopy was only a few inches off the ground.   

       What we need is the opinion of a treeologist.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 23 2014

       hmmm, I'm not a treeologist but I suspect that the branches touching the ground would become roots and the water-shoots from these would produce entirely new trees... which are still the same tree.   

       I say we braid it and see what happens.   


       "I say we braid it and see what happens"
normzone, Jul 23 2014

       Someone had a related idea where they just harvested the boards from the trunk, then folded the cambium bark back around the trunk to allow for continued growth. [link]
AusCan531, Jul 23 2014

       //Why not artificial tree tops?// Why not not artificial tree tops?

//will the tru[n]k re-grow?// It won't regenerate, but the dominant branch(es) will take that function I believe, and grow larger and faster than other branches. Something called apical dominance. As [MB] mentioned, new growth occurs primarily at the tips of old branches, and layer by layer around the stems and trunk. New branches form from buds on old branches too, but apical dominance means the tippy-most tips grow fastest.

Too funny [bigsleep]!

//treeologist// sp. Arborist.

//braid it// <Link>

[AusCan531] Awesome link!
LimpNotes, Jul 24 2014

       must... resist... self...promotion...


       <resists link temptation>   

       Holy crap I did it!

       It's "not" all about me. See?!
Just look at how 'not' about me that was.
Just like I said! See?


       wait, aw crap   

       // after you have chopped out the tru[n]k and grafted the crown, will the tru[n]k re-grow?// I think that will depend heavily on the type of tree.   

       Around here we grow a lot of Douglas fir for lumber. These generally have one leader that turns into the trunk with lots of small branches out the side. As the leader grows taller and thicker, the lower bigger branches have a tendency to die and break off, especially in a dense forest where the lower branches aren't getting much light anymore. If you had a forest of 60 foot Doug Fir trees and took the bottom 40 feet out of each tree, you'd loose very few productive branches, and assuming the grafts didn't cause a problem, the tree should continue growing it's trunk nice and straight. By the time it reaches 60 feet again, the branches at the bottom (that were at the top when it was topped), will have long since died, but there will be another 20 feet of productive branches that can be grafted back onto the stump. The tricky part could be dealing with the taper of the tree. Doug fir are nice for lumber because they taper very slowly, but when you take 2/3 of the tree out, you definitely won't be able to line up the growing layer (cambium) all the way around. Maybe if you could get the base of the tree top to split, you might make it work, but then you've got a hollow area in the tree.
scad mientist, Jul 24 2014

       Hmmm. Good points. I was looking a Ponderosa Pine as a representative species, which appears to be approximately the same diameter for a hundred feet or so with very little taper. There is a process called Bridge Grafting that could be modified to handle the misalignment in cambium. They use it to save girdled trees.

What are you going on about [2 Fries]? You braid trees? Cause that would be promotion worthy!
LimpNotes, Jul 24 2014

       Read the two annos before yours [Vernon].
LimpNotes, Jul 24 2014

       In order for this process to work, you would need to know How To Identify Different Types Of Trees From Quite A Long Way Away …   

       For example, The Larch …
8th of 7, Jul 24 2014

       Someday [LimpNotes] I want to start Treethedral.

       What? Don't look at me like that, he 'did' ask.
It would have been rude not to respond.

       //Mature trees grow from their branch-tips//   

       True. Someone once came up with a very pretty turn of phrase I quite liked: "A tree is just the trajectory of its buds."
AusCan531, Jul 24 2014

       I did this once with a little apple tree sprout I grew from seed. It was tall and spindly. I removed the middle and grafted top to bottom. It lived. One tree of that batch lived and might live still - an extremely slow growing freak, flowered at the wrong time of year, only 6 feet tall at age 15, but gave me one tiny apple the size of a marble. YEAH!
bungston, Jul 24 2014

       It's not fair to not tell us how the apple was [bungston]. Was it tart? Was it sweet? Did you grow a new tree from its seed? You can't just leave it hanging like that man.
it's a thing now.

       [8th of 7] Maybe So, But Every Novel Idea Can Evolve To Its Application.

//Treethedral// Worth the effort I think! Check out Auerworld Palace in Germany.

[bungston], the tree you grafted, that was the one slow growing one? How big was it when you did your grafting?

//apple the size of a marble// SUCCESS!!!!!
LimpNotes, Jul 25 2014

       // an extremely slow growing freak, flowered at the wrong time of year, only 6 feet tall at age 15 //   

       Sorry, is this you or the tree ?
8th of 7, Jul 25 2014

       Of my seeds (from a Braeburn, I think) several turned into trees. I did the middling experiments when they were still in the window. I then lost track of which was which when they got larger - an interesting premise that maybe my surviving tree was freakish because of its time in the House of Pain. But I don't think so - other things were different about this tree. When cedar apple rust came and killed its siblings it was the only survivor.   

       The apple was firm, green and red. Recognizably apple like. Hard to tell much more from the nibbles I got.
bungston, Dec 13 2014

       Thinking about this idea: I wonder how feasible it is to graft conifers. The sap is such a mess when you cut into it. I cannot imagine clean connections could be made between the approximated ends.
bungston, Dec 14 2014

       I love the ideas bouncing around in here, but I have a minor quibble: 'sustainable lumber' is already a thing. In my neck of the woods it's the new way of doing business. It combines a number of responsible logging practices such as selective harvesting and slash seeding (colloquialism) but it boils down to 'don't cut it down faster than it grows back'.
Alterother, Dec 14 2014

       //The sap is such a mess when you cut into it.//
Good point! I wonder if cutting during the winter as [8th] suggests would help. Sap should be a higher viscosity and easier to manage.

//Sustainable Lumber//
Always taking title suggestions of course.
LimpNotes, Dec 14 2014

       /don't cut it down faster than it grows back'./   

       /"Work? Why, cert'nly it would work, like rats a- fighting. But it's too blame' simple; there ain't nothing to it. What's the good of a plan that ain't no more trouble than that? It's as mild as goose- milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn't make no more talk than breaking into a soap factory."/   

       - Tom Sawyer, quoted from Huckleberry Finn.
bungston, Dec 14 2014

       I wonder how hard it would be to restore the use of its legs.   

       Hydroponic root shoes would be needed, obviously.
pertinax, Dec 15 2014

       // 'sustainable lumber' is already a thing // I'd agree with that. I think the idea is not named perfectly. I think "More Efficient Lumber" might capture the spirit better. A young tree doesn't produce as much volume of wood per year as an old tree since the old tree has larger roots and more leaves or needles.   

       If it was possible to harvest the wood without severely injuring the roots and leaves, you could get more board-feet of lumber per acre. Until the earth is completely overcrowded or too many forests have been given protected status, I can't image that this would actually be cost effective.
scad mientist, Dec 15 2014


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