Eastern red cedar
Contrary to what many believe, eastern red cedar trees can have substantial value for wood products. From chips for fuel, to poles, posts and lumber, the often discarded trees can be an income-producing asset for landowners.
Although eastern red cedar are expanding in the rangeland in ever increasing numbers, southwest district forester Rachel Allison with the Nebraska Forest Service points out that there are areas where the cedar has been growing for many years and actually has survived some of the early century fires.
“These large eastern redcedar grew in a forest setting and often can provide some of the better material that produces wood for many uses,” Allison noted.
While cedar in pastures should be cleared and managed for grass, there are good opportunities to manage cedar for wood products on the north and east slopes.
On May 25, cedar processing equipment will be demonstrated from 9 a.m. to noon in Curtis during the Eastern Red Cedar Expo at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
A hot saw and shear will cut the cedar and a chipper will process the material for the college’s wood-fired boiler. Other ways to utilize the cedar will be demonstrated by a post peeler and a sawmill. In many areas of Nebraska, eastern red cedar is large enough that boards can be processed for paneling, furniture and other fine products.
The college has recently installed a wood-fired boiler and begun to use the red cedar wood as fuel.
Dean Weldon Sleight of NCTA notes that the timing was good to put in the wood-fired boiler.
“After a feasibility study was conducted for the college, it showed that the use of wood chips from the cedar would not only be economical to heat the college, but also it would provide an opportunity for the local ranchers to clear the encroaching cedar which is reducing the amount of available forage on their rangeland.”
Students can also be involved in providing cedar for the boiler. Sleight set up a program to provide students with an opportunity to earn money for their travel to and from home or books.
“Students can bring in a truck or trailer load of cedar logs to NCTA to be chipped and used to burn in the boiler and in return earn funds for books and other day-to-day needs,” he said.
Tours of the NCTA wood-fired boiler will be given between 1-3 p.m. May 25.