Successful tree farms aren’t just about growing. They also require careful thinning of trees.
“By tweaking Mother Nature a little bit, you get more volume,” said Steve Bailey. “Cutting of trees is not a bad thing. A young, healthy, growing tree takes 70 percent more of the pollutants out of the environment than an older tree.”
The “volume” to which he referred is the number of young, viable trees growing in a healthy forest and the amount of lumber that is harvested from that forest to make room for the younger trees to receive the sunlight they need – such as the oak saplings that may someday tower over the rest of the trees.
Steve and his brother, Bill, recipients of the 2015 Minnesota Tree Farmer of the Year Award from the American Tree Farm System, are proud to be able to show the stands of trees that guard the edges of their pastures and fields among miles and miles of pastured and crop land that once had thick woods. The Baileys share 300 acres of land scattered throughout their Chatfield neck of Fillmore and Olmsted counties, of which some is in a timber management, others partially pasture, partially trees.
“We’ve made a special effort to pick up anything available,” said Steve. “We’ve been doing that for about 50 years.”