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Forest Farming

If you own a woodland, make money from more than just the trees. Some landowners also grow specialty products between the trees such as nuts, fruit, berries, and decorative ornamentals.

Dave Moorhead is a professor of silviculture at the University of Georgia. He says while you're waiting for high-quality trees to grow for their wood products, non-timber types of crops can be grown in conjunction with the trees by modifying the shade level.

"When you plant a stand, you can put wide rows where they'll have plenty of light and then have thick rows of trees or multiple rows of trees as borders within the stand so that again you're kind of managing two systems on the same piece of property," says Moorhead.

Forest farming also diversifies the landscape by reestablishing native plants and attracting a variety of wildlife species.

If your trees are in a conservation reserve program, or CRP, Moorhead says there are limits to harvesting a saleable commodity.

"We have some folks that established these stands under the CRP program, and their intention is on raking pine straw out of there. So what they'll do is they're going to maintain that stand as long as they possibly can and rake pine straw because that's a very lucrative opportunity for them in most of our markets in the South," he says. "And so as soon as their contract obligation expires, then they'll begin raking straw out of those stands."

You’ll need to know your market. Contact your extension office or department of agriculture to see who might be interested in purchasing your products.

Learn more about growing crops in the forest

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