Wood Products Open Up Specialty Markets
|Niche agroforesty products like decorative branches for the floral market and choke cherries (below)for fruit wine promise better profits. |
Photos by Scott Josiah.
Wood Products Open Up Specialty Markets for Farmers
Farmers on the windy Plains who plant trees as buffers and windbreaks can realize a profit as part of their conservation efforts—and many are starting to explore the options, thanks to Scott Josiah, a state extension forester at the University of Nebraska. With a SARE grant, Josiah gathered a wealth of information about the profit-making potential of trees on farms and taught farmers about how to grow and market new products like berries, nuts, and woody florals in conservation plantings.
“Instead of considering a windbreak or streamside buffer strip as land taken out of production, why not make it a new profit center?” Josiah said.
Josiah’s data, from a survey of SARE producer grant recipients and others, literature searches, and six field trials throughout Nebraska, feeds a website featuring a financial analysis tool and marketing information.
Market research showed the floral industry to be a $20 million outlet, mainly eye-catching stems from trees and shrubs planted in rows that bring as much as $5 per linear foot. “Someone is already providing products to these markets, we just have to compete on a different level, with superior quality,” Josiah said. Likewise, nuts can bring high returns, especially hybrid hazel-nuts for the confection industry.
Growers flocked to workshops and trainings featuring production, harvest, and post-harvest handling strategies. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, Neb., learned which plants to grow and how to market them, part of an effort to diversify his 160-acre farm. Today, Bostelman harvests willow and dogwood stems and sells them to wholesalers with farmers who met during the project and formed a cooperative to process and market their products.
“Without his [Josiah’s] research and everything he’s done in woody floral development, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Bostelman, who also raises small fruit for wineries and has started a nut orchard.
A forest products workshop coordinated by the Arbor Day Foundation and supported by a SARE professional development grant drew 70 extension educators and natural resource professionals from 12 states. The most visual aspect of the 2-day workshop was a hazelnut harvest on the Arbor Day Farm. Participants also learned more about incorporating specialty woody crops into conservation strategies such as living snow fences and stream bank buffers.
[For more information, go to http://snr.unl.edu/forestry/specialtyforestproductsintro.htm or go to www.sare.org/projects and search for LNC01-197 and ENC00-054.]