White Ash Tree - Tree Plantation Timber and Veneer
A White Ash tree plantation earns $100,000 per acre. Thinned trees earn an additional $25,000 sold as wood pellets.
White Ash is a deciduous tree native to Eastern North America. In undisturbed forest, White Ash represents about 30% of the tree species. White Ash has been an important commercial wood for over 300 years used for building construction, flooring and furniture. White Ash can grow more than 200 feet tall and up to 6 feet in diameter.
Unfortunately, White Ash forests are disappearing due to climate change and the Emerald ash borer. The Emerald ash borer is not native to North America. Scientists believe that this Asian insect jumped ship in the early 1980’s at a St. Lawrence port hidden in a wood pallet. In North America, the borer has been classified an invasive species, rivaling the destruction that virtually wiped out Dutch Elm and American chestnut. To show how bad this has become, the Chestnut blight killed off a total of 3.8 billion trees across the United States (about 95% of all Chestnut trees) while in comparison, the Emerald ash borer has killed that many trees in the State of Ohio alone. It is estimated that 8 billion White Ash trees will die off before this is over. That’s estimated to be 99% of all White Ash trees.
While scientists attempt to create a genetically resistant White Ash tree to the borer, others are exploring the potential of planting non-infected trees further west in micro climatic areas of Oregon and Washington State. Establishing White Ash out west shows great potential due to the fact that the Emerald Ash borer cannot survive and thrive in these areas.
White Ash Wood
White Ash is easy to work with because of its straight gain. Woodworkers prefer this wood because it is easy to turn, cut, sand, glue, finish and stain. Twenty years ago, all baseball bats where made from White Ash. White Ash was the preferred wood for tool handles as well. Poles for stretchers in the first and second world wars were made from White Ash because they were light and strong. Aircraft were also manufacture for the same reasons. The USAF Lightning was almost entirely made from White Ash. Until supplies of White Ash began to dwindle it was more popular than Oak for flooring.
White Ash Trees
Similar to its cousins Green and Black Ash, White Ash is a fast growing tree. In its native habitat with good soil and regular rainfall, young White Ash trees can grow 3 feet or more per year. As the tree gets older its terminal growth slows to 12 inches.
White Ash North American Growing Zones
White Ash native growing areas are concentrated in Eastern Canada and the United States including areas of Mexico. Although native to Eastern North America, White Ash may also be grown in microclimate areas of the Western States and Canada, principally the in the central interior of of British Columbia and Washington State.
White Ash Plantations
Western White Ash plantations may save the species.
White Ash plantation costs average between $500 and $1,000 per acre depending on how many acres are planted per project – the more acres planted the lower the cost. An average of 800 trees per acre is common. A thinning program should be initiated during year 10 cutting every second tree so the remaining trees size up. On average, the thinned trees will increase two times diameter compared to a plantation with no thinning. An open, sunny spot is essential to maximize growth and yield.
Note* It is important to transplant seedlings that are at least 3 years old and 3 feet tall so they will survive the first and second winters. It is also advisable to use tree shelters or security fencing to protect young White Ash seedlings from grazing deer. Starting White Ash plantation with tall tree seedlings 10 or 12 feet tall will eliminate the need for shelters and fencing.
Mixed Bush Plantings
For a healthier plantation, it is advisable to intermingle plantings comprising other tree species such as Green and Black Ash, pine and birch. One tree species for every 10 White Ash trees should be adequate.
The following comments where collected from a national wood products discussion forum using White Ash in the United States and Canada.
Comment from contributor A:
White Ash should be kiln dried before milling. I have been a professional floorman for over years and have seen the effects that moisture can have on wood floors. First it will acclimate to less than 12% and that takes more than a few weeks in the house. If you are in a very dry climate it can go as low as 5%. In Oklahoma it varies from 6 to 9 % depending on the season. There will be seasonal movement if you have humidity fluctuation. Secondly, if you lay flooring with too high of a moisture content over a moisture barrier (not optional) and sand it flat, the top of the board will dry out faster than the bottom of the board and the result will be cupping. Even if you are laying 1.5" flooring. Wide plank will cup even more noticeably. If you re-sand, it will crown when it finally dries out completely. So remember, be safe and buy kiln dried.
Comment from contributor B:
When my parents passed away, Inherited the family farm, which I hadn't explored since I was a kid. The farm is large, about 800 acres including a 300-acre woodlot. I had a professional timber man survey the woodlot so I could get an idea of what was there wood wise. It turns out that 40 percent of the woodlot was White Ash. My Dad and his Dad before him had managed the bush pretty good as most the White Ash trees where over 100 years old and 150 feet tall. My timber man expressed interest in cutting the White Ash out of there for $250,000 but I think I will continue to manage the forest and keep the farm in the family. Fortunately, I don’t need the money so its nice to be able to leave them as is.
Invest In A White Ash Tree Plantation
White Ash may earn earns gross revenue between $100,000 and $150,000 per acre in year 30 and double that in year 50. In year 10, thinned trees may be sold and/or converted into high BTU value wood pellets.