• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Copyright
 Front Cover
 Highlights
 Introduction
 Natural production of pine...
 Why forests need pine straw and...
 Marketing of pine straw
 Yields of pine straw
 Literature cited
 Back Cover






Group Title: Florida Cooperative Extension Service circular 831
Title: Pine-straw management in Florida's forests
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00049228/00001
 Material Information
Title: Pine-straw management in Florida's forests
Series Title: Circular
Physical Description: 7 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Duryea, Mary L
Edwards, James C
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1989
 Subjects
Subject: Forest management -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Pine -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Straw -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 7).
Statement of Responsibility: Mary L. Duryea, James C. Edwards.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: "August 1989."
Funding: Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00049228
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 26846473

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Highlights
        Page 2
    Introduction
        Page 3
    Natural production of pine straw
        Page 3
    Why forests need pine straw and the effects of removing it
        Page 4
    Marketing of pine straw
        Page 4
    Yields of pine straw
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Literature cited
        Page 7
    Back Cover
        Page 8
Full Text





HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida






August 1989


Florida Cooperal
Institute of Foor


PINE-STRAW MANAGEMENT

IN FLORIDA'S FORESTS
... _,T F L ,:: : .. S
tive Extension Service / /- Mary L Duryea
d and Agricultural Sciences ary L Duryea


University of Florida, Gainesville
John T. Woeste, Dean for Extension


James C. Edwards


Circular 831







HIGHLIGHTS


* Pine plantations in Florida can be managed for pine straw by raking, baling, and
selling freshly fallen pine needles to homeowners or garden centers.


The greatest needle fall is during the autumn months (September through
November) and, hence, the best time to rake needles is during winter.


A blanket of pine needles on the forest floor serves many important purposes for
the forest; some of these include: recycling nutrients to be used for tree growth,
providing food and habitat for animals, and protecting the soil from erosion.


S Because of these important benefits of pine straw to the forest, we recommend that
the raking and baling of pine straw be limited to two to four times during the life
of a plantation.


S The best time during the life of a pine stand to begin raking is around 8 years when
pine-straw yield will be between 100 to 150 bales per acre. The maximum yield is
at age 15 (200 to 300 bales per acre).


S In the most commonly employed method for pine-straw management, the landowner
sells to a pine-straw company which will rake, bale, and market the pine straw.
Payment is usually on a per acre basis.


S The management steps for a pine-straw operation include developing a management
plan, controlling weeds, raking and baling pine straw, and selling the pine straw.
Fertilizing the pine stand may increase tree growth and pine-straw production.



5crBt















Mary L. Duryea is an Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, University of Florida, Gainesville,
Florida 32611 and James C. Edwards is an Assistant Professor, Cooperative Extension Service, Florida
A & M University, Tallahassee, Florida 32307







PINE STRAW MANAGEMENT IN FLORIDA'S FORESTS


INTRODUCTION
Managing for pine straw is a relatively new enter-
prise in Florida's pine forests. Pine straw is composed
of the needles that annually fall from pine trees. This
freshly fallen pine straw can be raked, baled and sold
to garden centers. Landscapers and homeowners use
pine straw as a mulch or ground-cover in gardens and
landscaping.
The easiest way to get started in pine-straw man-
agement is in an already established stand of pines
that is at least 8 years old. Slash and longleaf pines
are the two Florida pine species that can be baled.
Needles of the other pines are too short to be baled
properly and are considered to be of inferior quality
by landscapers. The pine stand which is to be raked
must contain undecayed fresh pine straw, must be
free of other vegetation in the understory, and must
be cleared of all twigs and limbs before raking.
The biggest concerns over pine-straw management
are the possible negative effects on tree growth and
soil productivity. Pine needles serve as a cover for the
soil and also recycle many of the nutrients that pine
trees need for growth. By removing the pine needles,
the soil is exposed to erosion and nutrients are re-
moved from the ecosystem. To avoid long-term effects
of pine-straw management, it is advisable to rake an
area only two to four times during a 25-year rotation
(Figure 1).

NATURAL PRODUCTION OF PINE STRAW

When to Rake During the Year
Pines grow in height during the spring and sum-
mer; at these times they are also growing pine nee-
dles. The needles stay on the pine tree for two years
providing food for the tree through the process of
photosynthesis as well as many other important func-
tions. After needles are two years old they turn brown


Pine straw (or pine needle litter)
The fresh, undecomposed pine needles that have fallen
to the forest floor.
Forest Floor
All the twigs, leaves, and other organic materials which
rest on the soil surface which have not been mixed with
the soil.

Understory
All the plants growing under the main stand of pines.
Rotation
The time from planting of pine seedlings to the harvest
of pine trees. (Usually 20 to 30 years for slash pine.)

Figure 1. Some useful definitions for pine-straw manage-
ment.


2.5


1.5 1


0.5 -


J FMAMJ J ASOND
MONTH

Figure 2. Daily pine needle fall over a year (adapted from
Gholz 1989, unpublished data).

and fall from the tree. This can occur anytime during
the year but the greatest needle fall is during the
autumn months (September through Novem-
ber)(Figure 2). Consequently, the best time to rake
needles is during winter. There is also less rainfall
during the winter so the pine needles are drier which
makes raking and baling easier.

When to Rake During the Life of A Pine Stand

Needle-fall in a pine stand increases with age to
a peak at age 15 years (Figure 3). There is a slight


5000


2000


1000 -


L0 I
10 20 30 40
PINE STAND AGE (YRS)

Figure 3. Annual pine needle fall over 35 years in a slash
pine plantation (Gholz et al 1985).


4000 -


3000 -







PINE STRAW MANAGEMENT IN FLORIDA'S FORESTS


INTRODUCTION
Managing for pine straw is a relatively new enter-
prise in Florida's pine forests. Pine straw is composed
of the needles that annually fall from pine trees. This
freshly fallen pine straw can be raked, baled and sold
to garden centers. Landscapers and homeowners use
pine straw as a mulch or ground-cover in gardens and
landscaping.
The easiest way to get started in pine-straw man-
agement is in an already established stand of pines
that is at least 8 years old. Slash and longleaf pines
are the two Florida pine species that can be baled.
Needles of the other pines are too short to be baled
properly and are considered to be of inferior quality
by landscapers. The pine stand which is to be raked
must contain undecayed fresh pine straw, must be
free of other vegetation in the understory, and must
be cleared of all twigs and limbs before raking.
The biggest concerns over pine-straw management
are the possible negative effects on tree growth and
soil productivity. Pine needles serve as a cover for the
soil and also recycle many of the nutrients that pine
trees need for growth. By removing the pine needles,
the soil is exposed to erosion and nutrients are re-
moved from the ecosystem. To avoid long-term effects
of pine-straw management, it is advisable to rake an
area only two to four times during a 25-year rotation
(Figure 1).

NATURAL PRODUCTION OF PINE STRAW

When to Rake During the Year
Pines grow in height during the spring and sum-
mer; at these times they are also growing pine nee-
dles. The needles stay on the pine tree for two years
providing food for the tree through the process of
photosynthesis as well as many other important func-
tions. After needles are two years old they turn brown


Pine straw (or pine needle litter)
The fresh, undecomposed pine needles that have fallen
to the forest floor.
Forest Floor
All the twigs, leaves, and other organic materials which
rest on the soil surface which have not been mixed with
the soil.

Understory
All the plants growing under the main stand of pines.
Rotation
The time from planting of pine seedlings to the harvest
of pine trees. (Usually 20 to 30 years for slash pine.)

Figure 1. Some useful definitions for pine-straw manage-
ment.


2.5


1.5 1


0.5 -


J FMAMJ J ASOND
MONTH

Figure 2. Daily pine needle fall over a year (adapted from
Gholz 1989, unpublished data).

and fall from the tree. This can occur anytime during
the year but the greatest needle fall is during the
autumn months (September through Novem-
ber)(Figure 2). Consequently, the best time to rake
needles is during winter. There is also less rainfall
during the winter so the pine needles are drier which
makes raking and baling easier.

When to Rake During the Life of A Pine Stand

Needle-fall in a pine stand increases with age to
a peak at age 15 years (Figure 3). There is a slight


5000


2000


1000 -


L0 I
10 20 30 40
PINE STAND AGE (YRS)

Figure 3. Annual pine needle fall over 35 years in a slash
pine plantation (Gholz et al 1985).


4000 -


3000 -







decline in needle fall after age 15 but it remains rela-
tively constant through age 35. The best time during
the life of a pine stand to begin raking is around 8
years.

WHY FORESTS NEED PINE STRAW AND
THE EFFECTS OF REMOVING IT
A blanket of pine needles on the forest floor
serves many important purposes for the forest (Figure
4). Some positive benefits are:

S Nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and
potassium) in the pine needles are recycled as
they decay and the trees take up these nutrients
and use them to grow. Decayed pine needles
become part of the soil's organic matter which
holds nutrients making them more available for
trees and other plants. Nutrients are also stored
in the litter; for example, by age 30, a pine forest
has as much phosphorus in the forest floor as in
the trees (Gholz et al. 1985).

* Pine litter provides food and habitat for many
animals. These animals (for example, earthworms
and beetles) help decompose the litter and are a
source of food for many species of wildlife such
as birds, frogs, and turtles.

* Pine litter helps insulate the soil from extremes
in temperature and moisture. It also protects the
soil from rain, reducing erosion.

The fresh and partially-decayed pine litter has
great water-holding capacity, thereby providing
water for tree growth. The ltter layer can also
reduce evaporation of water from the surface
making more water available for trees.


Figure 4. A blanket of pine needles on the forest floor can
serve many important purposes for the forest.


Because of the benefits of pine straw to the for-
est, repeated removal of the pine straw (every 1 to 2
years) may have drastic effects on a forest stand.
Research data on long term effects of pine manage-
ment on Florida's forests is limited. Some possible
negative effects are reduced tree growth (McLeod et
al 1979), tree mortality if trees are damaged by mach-
inery, a change in the wildlife in the forest with a re-
duction in some animals such as birds, increased soil
erosion and lower soil productivity.
We recommend that, to reduce these dele-
terious effects, forests are raked only 2 to 4
times during the rotation. For example, rake every
4 years beginning at year 8 (raking in years 8, 12, 16,
and 20). Using this moderate approach to raking
removes no more than 20% of all the needles pro-
duced by the pines, insuring that pine litter can build
up and protect the soil between rakings.

MARKETING OF PINE STRAW
Landowners may market pine straw in two ways:

1. The landowner rakes, bales, and sells pine
straw directly to the consumer or retailer.
Payment is on a per bale basis (Figure 5a).

2. The landowner sells to a pine-straw company
which will rake, bale, and market the pine
straw. Payment is usually on a per acre basis
(Figure 5b).

The second method is most common because the
landowner spends little time and money during the
operation and does not need to own any equipment.
Steps involved include:

1. Landowner obtains competitive bids from seve-
ral companies (Bids are usually made on a per
acre basis).

2. Landowner and pine-straw company (contrac-
tor) draw up a contract with conditions of sale,
and provisions including date of payment,
what is to be done if trees are damaged, dates
of the baling.

3. Contractor pays landowner.

4. Contractor rakes, bales, and ships pine straw.

YIELDS OF PINE STRAW
If you begin raking when a pine stand is 6 years
old, the yields will be relatively low (50 to 75 bales
per acre). As we previously mentioned, to avoid pos-
sible deleterious effects of frequent removals, we rec-
ommend raking only 2 to 4 times during the life of
the pine plantation (the rotation). At age 10, pine-
straw yield will be between 125 to 200 bales per acre.
The maximum yield is at age 15 (200 to 300 bales







decline in needle fall after age 15 but it remains rela-
tively constant through age 35. The best time during
the life of a pine stand to begin raking is around 8
years.

WHY FORESTS NEED PINE STRAW AND
THE EFFECTS OF REMOVING IT
A blanket of pine needles on the forest floor
serves many important purposes for the forest (Figure
4). Some positive benefits are:

S Nutrients (such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and
potassium) in the pine needles are recycled as
they decay and the trees take up these nutrients
and use them to grow. Decayed pine needles
become part of the soil's organic matter which
holds nutrients making them more available for
trees and other plants. Nutrients are also stored
in the litter; for example, by age 30, a pine forest
has as much phosphorus in the forest floor as in
the trees (Gholz et al. 1985).

* Pine litter provides food and habitat for many
animals. These animals (for example, earthworms
and beetles) help decompose the litter and are a
source of food for many species of wildlife such
as birds, frogs, and turtles.

* Pine litter helps insulate the soil from extremes
in temperature and moisture. It also protects the
soil from rain, reducing erosion.

The fresh and partially-decayed pine litter has
great water-holding capacity, thereby providing
water for tree growth. The ltter layer can also
reduce evaporation of water from the surface
making more water available for trees.


Figure 4. A blanket of pine needles on the forest floor can
serve many important purposes for the forest.


Because of the benefits of pine straw to the for-
est, repeated removal of the pine straw (every 1 to 2
years) may have drastic effects on a forest stand.
Research data on long term effects of pine manage-
ment on Florida's forests is limited. Some possible
negative effects are reduced tree growth (McLeod et
al 1979), tree mortality if trees are damaged by mach-
inery, a change in the wildlife in the forest with a re-
duction in some animals such as birds, increased soil
erosion and lower soil productivity.
We recommend that, to reduce these dele-
terious effects, forests are raked only 2 to 4
times during the rotation. For example, rake every
4 years beginning at year 8 (raking in years 8, 12, 16,
and 20). Using this moderate approach to raking
removes no more than 20% of all the needles pro-
duced by the pines, insuring that pine litter can build
up and protect the soil between rakings.

MARKETING OF PINE STRAW
Landowners may market pine straw in two ways:

1. The landowner rakes, bales, and sells pine
straw directly to the consumer or retailer.
Payment is on a per bale basis (Figure 5a).

2. The landowner sells to a pine-straw company
which will rake, bale, and market the pine
straw. Payment is usually on a per acre basis
(Figure 5b).

The second method is most common because the
landowner spends little time and money during the
operation and does not need to own any equipment.
Steps involved include:

1. Landowner obtains competitive bids from seve-
ral companies (Bids are usually made on a per
acre basis).

2. Landowner and pine-straw company (contrac-
tor) draw up a contract with conditions of sale,
and provisions including date of payment,
what is to be done if trees are damaged, dates
of the baling.

3. Contractor pays landowner.

4. Contractor rakes, bales, and ships pine straw.

YIELDS OF PINE STRAW
If you begin raking when a pine stand is 6 years
old, the yields will be relatively low (50 to 75 bales
per acre). As we previously mentioned, to avoid pos-
sible deleterious effects of frequent removals, we rec-
ommend raking only 2 to 4 times during the life of
the pine plantation (the rotation). At age 10, pine-
straw yield will be between 125 to 200 bales per acre.
The maximum yield is at age 15 (200 to 300 bales

























Figure 5. Two ways that a landowner may market pine straw: a) Landowner rakes, bales and sells pine straw directly to
consumer, and b) Landowner accepts a per acre bid and draws up a contract with a pine-straw contractor.


per acre) (Figure 6). Thereafter, there is a slight de-
crease to approximately 200 bales per acre. Because
of these differences in yield over the life of a stand,
it is important that the landowner obtain competitive
bids for each year of baling.
MANAGING FOR PINE STRAW
The easiest way to get started in pine-straw man-
agement is in an already established plantation of
pines that is around 8 years of age. Another alterna-
tive is to plant pines on unused or marginal cropland
and then harvest pine straw 8 years after pine esta-
blishment. The following are management steps in an
established stand of pines:
1. Develop a management plan. To success-
fully begin and manage a pine-straw enter-
prise, it is important to have a management
plan. Ten of the steps to establishing a plan
are included in IFAS Circular 810 "Alter-
native Enterprises For Your Forest Land"


Figure 6. After raking a 15 year-old stand, bales of pine straw
await shipment to retailers.


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(Duryea 1988) and include: defining your ob-
jectives and level of involvement, investigating
marketing potential, and deciding what kind
of assistance you will need (Figure 7). Steps
for determining the financial feasibility of a
new enterprise are provided in IFAS Circular
836, "Is Your Forest-Land Enterprise Profi-
table?" (Hubbard et al. 1989).

2. Control weeds. The pine stand must be free
of vegetation in the understory because these
other plants will interfere with raking (Figure
8). Shrubs and trees can be controlled with
herbicides or mechanical weeding.

3. Rake pine straw. Before raking, the area
must be cleared of all twigs, pine cones, and
tree limbs (Figure 9). Raking is done by hand
or machine. When raking by hand, one or two
persons rake the pine straw into piles which
are later pitchforked into the baling machine.
Machines, on the other hand, rake the pine
straw into windows which can then be picked
up by hand or machine. Production is higher
with raking machines but a disadvantage is
that machines easily damage pine trees. Dam-
aged trees have reduced growth and are sus-
ceptible to bark beetle attack and possible
mortality especially when damaged during the
winter dry season.


Property
Location


N



I 44;% + +
I 0+++4
+ + + +
+ +++




1 Buildings
Fence
0 Pond
(% Bales
MAP, SITE DESCRIPTION
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
MARKETING AND ACTION PLANS
TIMETABLE AND PLANS FOR ASSISTANCE
RECORD-KEEPING, PROGRESS REVIEW


Figure 7. Having a management plan helps insure success
for your pine-straw enterprise.


Figure 8. Vegetation in the understory must be controlled
before a pine stand can be managed for pine
straw. (a) A pine stand where understory trees and
shrubs make raking impossible. (b) A pine stand
where understory vegetation has been eliminated
to allow raking of pine straw.



4. Bale pine straw. Baling pine straw is very
labor intensive. A three-person crew usually
works on a tractor-powered baler with one
person pitchforking the straw into the baler,
another tying the wire around the bale, and
another person stacking the bales (Figure 10).
This three-person crew can produce 250 to
300 bales per day (Stanton 1986). If the straw
is raked into windows and then mechanically
picked up and baled, production can reach
1000 bales per day (Stanton 1986).

5. Fertilize. Fertilizer may be used to improve
tree growth and replace some of the nutrients
that are removed with raking. Fertilization
may also increase pine needle (pine straw)
production; studies have shown two to five
times more needle biomass after fertilization
(Jokela 1989, unpublished data; Colbert 1988).
(For more information on fertilization of pine
stands, see Kidder et al. 1987).







It is advisable to consult with these people for assist-
ance in forest management planning, contract negotia-
tions, financial analyses, marketing, and many of the
other important steps in planning and management
of a pine-straw enterprise.

LITERATURE CITED
Colbert, S.R. 1988. Early development of loblolly and
slash pine plantations subjected to repeated fer-
tilization and sustained weed control. M.S. Thesis.
University of Florida, Gainesville. 197 p.

Duryea, M.L. (editor) 1988. Alternative enterprises for
your forest land: Forest grazing, Christmas trees,
hunting leases, pine straw, fee fishing, and fire-
wood. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, University of Florida, Circular 810. 30 p.

Gholz, H.L. 1989. Unpublished data. Dept. of Forestry,
University of Florida, Gainesville.

Gholz, H.L., Perry, C.S., Cropper, Jr., W.P., and L.C.
Hendry. 1985. Litterfall, decomposition, and nitro-
gen and phosphorus dynamics in a chronose-
quence of slash pine (Pinus elliotii) plantations.
Forest Science 31:463-478.

Gholz, H.L., R.F. Fisher, and W.L. Pritchett. 1985.
Nutrient dynamics in slash pine plantation eco-
systems. Ecology 66:647-659.
Figure 9. (a) Before raking, the area must be cleared of all
twigs, pine cones and tree limbs. (b) Raking by Hubbard, W.G., Abt R.C., and M.L. Duryea. 1989. Is
hand is the most common method of raking. your forest-land enterprise profitable? Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University
of Florida, Circular 836, in press.

Jokela, E.J. 1989. Unpublished data. Dept. of Forestry,
University of Florida, Gainesville.

Kidder, G., N.B. Comerford and A.V. Mollitor. 1987.
Fertilization of slash pine plantations. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University
of Florida, Gainesville. Circular 735. 5p.

McLeod, K.W., Sherrod, Jr., C., and T.E. Porch.
1979. Response of longleaf pine plantations to
litter removal. Forest Ecology and Management
2:1-12.

Pritchett, W.L. and R.F. Fisher. 1987. Properties and
Figure 10. A three-person crew usually works on a tractor- Pritchett WL and RF Fisher. Second Edition. John
powered baler with one person pitchforking the management of forest soils. Second Edition. John
straw into the baler, another tying the wire around Wiley and Sons. New York. 494 p.
the bale, and another person stacking the bales.
Stanton, W.M. 1986. Longleaf pine straw production.
Woodland Owner Notes. North Carolina Agricul-
ASSISTANCE FOR A PINE-STRAW ENTER- ture Extension Service, Raleigh, North Carolina.
PRISE No. 18. 4 p.
Assistance for pine-straw management is avail-
able through County Extension offices, Florida Divi-
sion of Forestry, university personnel, and consultants.





















































































COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, John T. Woeste,
director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the May 8 and June
30,1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that
function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Single copies of extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth
publications) are available free to Florida residents from county extension offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers
is available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing
this publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability. Printed 3/92.




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