Open field

Asked May 30, 2016, 9:40 PM EDT

I have about 4 acres that used to be a corn field, I would like to eventually return this to woods. I am unsure of what native trees I should plant and where I can purchase them. Thank you, Steve

Erie County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Hi Steve,

Thank you for writing.

Our area tends to regenerate forests once we stop removing the vegetation, so I recommend not mowing for a year to start your process. At the end of the first year, and each year thereafter, I would check the species and density of vegetation that may be returning. During this time, I would scout monthly to manage invasive species so that they do not gain a foot-hold.

As you wait for re-vegetation to occur, you have time to prepare your management objectives including activities and placement, species you want to favor, and estate transfer when you are finished with the property. This is an excellent time to take a array of soil tests to begin to know your site characteristics. Soil chemistry, sunlight, and moisture characteristics will have gr At this time, consider species diversity even though you may strongly encourage a few key species in your own mind. With a common rule of thumb of wanting no more than, 10% in any one species, 20% in any one genus, and 30% in any one family, you can hope to avoid catastrophic loss in the case of disease or pestilence. You may find that deer are foraging heavily on your regeneration, and you may need to plan building small exclosures (small areas fencing trees in to keep deer out) throughout the area. You may want to invest in plant material to supplement your natural regrowth, particularly if you lack the species you desire and find that site conditions would indeed support it. Penn State University has an excellent publication introducing this topic at [PDF]Forest Landowners Guide to Tree Planting Success - Penn State ...

extension.psu.edu/publications/ee0127.
For extensive planting, you may find your County Conservation District seedling sales will be very helpful,
1927 Wager Road • Erie, PA 16509 • Phone (814) 825-6403 • Fax (814) 825-6033
They are located at Wager Road, Erie PA 16509.
If you find you want to purchase many seedlings, Musser Forests in Indiana PA, is a source often used in this region.

Musser Forests

(724) 465-5685

Along with species you want, decide which species you do not want, and you can manage to exclude them while they are small. You may find you have ample regeneration after a couple years, and that is how many properties are reforested most efficiently and economically in Pennsylvania.

In Erie County, your DCNR Service Forester is an excellent source of advice and assistance. Presently the District Forester is taking questions as the longstanding service forester retired.

PA DCNR - District Office

... Forestry: Directory: District Office. ... 323 N. State Street North Warren, PA 16365-4867 Tel: 814-723-0262 FAX: ... DCNR Home | Contact DCNR | ...

In late January each year, Erie hosts the Forest Landowner's Conference, an all day Saturday conference where you can join about 100 participants with excellent presentations, displays, and research-based programming. Be sure to ask for details at the Bureau of Forestry when you call.

If I can help further, please call or write, and my contact is shown below. My position provides much publication advice, but field help lies within the Bureau of Forestry assignment.