Osage Orange trees

Discussion in 'Whitetail Management' started by TimberPig, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. TimberPig

    TimberPig Active Member

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    I have a couple questions about Osage Orange trees (aka hedge apple). I have a bunch of these trees growing in my timber and I dont care much for them. Very thorny, prolific, and hard to kill.

    Are they of any wildlife value? Only thing I've ever seen eat the hedge balls is the occasional squirrel.

    I was thinking of trying to kill as many of them as I can, but there are probably hundreds of them. Killing a bunch might at least keep them from overtaking the timber. They are just growing randomly in the timber, not in a solid stand. I have considered the following ways of killing them:
    1. Drilling a small hole with a cordless drill and injecting the tree with a stout mix of brush killer such as Tordon. Then just leave them stand as they are. This would be the easiest/fastest but would it work?
    2. Hinging the tree to make a living brushpile, doubt the tree would ever die though and may still spread.
    3. Cutting them down and just leaving them lay where they fall. Stump would probably have to be treated to prevent re-growth. Osage trees are just to unfriendly to try to remove all the cut trees. Given their resistance to rot they would probably lay there for 50 years and look like new.

    Any recommendations for chemicals to kill the stumps? Tordon? (I've never used it)

    I cleared 7 acres of scrubby pasture 2 years ago with a bulldozer and then disked the ground, then replanted it as a riparian buffer. Tore out all the roots I could find. I mow this 3-4 times a year and yet the Osage trees resprout continually. They start looking like a bush and actually out grow the weeds. I tried spraying the sprouts with a heavy dose of round-up. That made the sprouts die back, and new sprouts just replaced those. I really hate them, they are like the Terminator of trees!
     
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  3. 5465

    5465 Split_G3

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    i'll shoot you a pm, timberpig!!!
     
  4. Old Buck

    Old Buck Life Member

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    timberpig,

    Very interesting thread. The best answer to your questions is to check with your district forester. He will either have the answers or have access to them.

    I have used Tordon RTU on many kinds of trees. As long as the tree takes it in it works. In fact if you apply too much it seems to kill everything for several feet around the stump. The time it works the least is when sap is flowing up. The time it works the best is when the plant is moving things down the trunk.

    On my place one of my goals is to provide a number of areas where the protective cover is as thick as possible. Osage orange or hedge is a great plant for accomplishing that. Hinging would probably provide the best long lasting and lowest cover. It would be a great place for a covey of quail or big old buck to hide. As you point out even a cut off top will last for years.

    I put hedge in the same group as red cedar and shingle oak in terms of great cover potential but it sounds like you have too many.

    Do you have any digitals of your cover you could post? I'd like to see what you are describing.

    Old Buck
     
  5. TimberPig

    TimberPig Active Member

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    Old Buck-
    This might be a dumb question, but how do I know whether sap is flowing up or down to the roots? I'm guessing up in spring, down in summer/fall?
    Applying stump killer might be a problem with Osage as they tend to pump out a milky sap when cut, which might wash away the chemical to some extent? Do you think injecting the tree would work? Wouldnt hurt to try I suppose.

    I dont really have any digitals of the cover. Basically I have about 30 acres of fairly average timber, mostly oaks, elm, hackberry, and hickory, and MF Rose of course. Its very thick in places, fairly open in others. As for Osage I dont know how many there are, but I doubt you could stand in any one spot in the timber and not be able to point out atleast 5 or more Osage trees close by. They are just spread out randomly. Most are under 4 inches across the trunk, but there are quite a few in the 6"-8" range. They are somewhat out of the ordinary around here, mostly found in timbers which have had cattle in them in the past. I'm told the cattle spread them by eating the hedge balls, where ever they crap - Poof- another Osage.

    What I dont want them doing is slowly overtaking the timber, pushing out more desirable trees. I could never get them all without a total war, but I could probably set them back a decade with a couple afternoons of work.

    I'm thinking that the best plan would be to kill the small trees completely, and hinge the larger trees to allow them to provide cover. I dont allow drives there and really try to minimize gun pressure so as to give the deer a sanctuary during the shotgun season. The thicker the cover, the easier it would be to accomplish this.
     
  6. kbgibby

    kbgibby Threebeards

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    Timber,

    I've been thinking about building bows. Any chance of snagging a few sections to split out some billets? Send me a pm.
     
  7. Danno

    Danno PMA Member

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    The osage orange trees. We called them hedge trees were planted in the 20s and 30 as windbreaks for conservation purposes where I grew up. They make great quail cover and travel corridors for deer. Many of them were cleared out in the 70s and 80s to allow farming to or through the fence. Hedge makes great fence posts too. I put in miles of fence using them in my youth. I did have calf choke and die on a "hedgeball" one time. Oh, one additional bit of trivia--place them around your basement and they will control crickets. But back to your original question, it appears to me that quail numbers are down in Southeast Iowa and Western Illinois from 10 or 20 years ago. I think clearing of the hedgerows are part of the reason.
    I've been systematically trying to get rid of thorny locust trees on my place in central Iowa for the same reasons you described. Try diesel fuel and salt on the stump.
     
  8. Old Buck

    Old Buck Life Member

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    Timberpig,

    I think that is the pattern but I'd check with a district forester first. You can tell by watching what happens when you cut a trunk.

    You are correct in that how you manage your forest now will impact it long past our life time. I just talked at lenght with the DNR Forestry supervisor. He said in Iowa we are loosing 7% of our oak every year and this has been going on since 1954. If we don't change management practices there will be few acorns for the wildlife of the future to eat.

    When I grab a chain saw the changes I make will have a long lasting impact so I like to really know what I'm doing before I start. That is why I keep recommending talking to your forester. It is a free service. Just tell him what your goals are and he can teach you how to get there.

    Old Buck
     
  9. Old Buck

    Old Buck Life Member

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    Great info on the history of hedge. I think you are correct about the impact on quail and other wildlife also.

    You'll know I'm nuts when I tell you I also save honey locust trees. I've watched deer stop and eat the pods when they are standing within feet of a corn field. I'm trying to maximize the cover and food on my place and honey locust seems to fit the bill. Of course then there are the flat tires and a thorn in the knee is a new kind of pain you won't forget for awhile. [​IMG]

    Old Buck
     
  10. Danno

    Danno PMA Member

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    Old Buck
    You are right about the locust pods. The deer flocked to them after the last big snow. I noticed they also came back to the alfalfa, digging big holes. I have locust trees on the edge of my yard so I patch the lawnmower tires almost every time I mow. I agree with your comments, I'm just managing this 20 acre pastures for cows more than deer for the time being.
     
  11. TimberPig

    TimberPig Active Member

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    Danno- I am a little familiar with the osage trees, and I can see why they would make great fence posts. That is some tough wood. I remember when I was younger that the folks had tried putting the hedge balls in the basement for insects, dont know if it really works very well though. My neighbor stopped by two years ago wanting to collect them. He said he took them to a grocery store up north somewhere and sold them, who then resold them to customers for insect control. He must not have made a fortune, as he didnt come back for more last year.

    The Osage trees arent really that big of a deal, they just arent a very pleasant tree to have around. I built my home here and I dont want to look out the window in 30 years at nothing but Osage.
    I dont have any honeylocust trees, but I dont really mind those. Deer love them as you said, and atleast they look native. Osage trees look like something from the Orient, they look out of place to me.

    Old Buck- I think I'll take your advice on checking with the forester, thats what they are there for after all.

    I also sent an email to a rep from Dow-Ag about Tordon, so if I find out anything interesting there, I'll let you know.

    Threebeards- I'll send you a PM. You can come and take them all if you want!


    Thanks for everyones help.......
     
  12. Old Buck

    Old Buck Life Member

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    TimberPig,

    Thanks. I'm always looking for an opportunity to learn more.

    Old Buck
     
  13. muddy

    muddy Administrator

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    I'll throw a new twist on Osage Orange tree usage. IF they are reasonably straight you might want to try and contact someone who carves their own longbows. Osage Orange is VERY popular from what I've read on bowmaking. Not saying you'll get much use or $$$ from a bowmaker looking to grab a few staves but you might get your own homemade longbow to hang on the wall. I'll try and find some time this evening and do some google searching on the subject and maybe put you in touch with a guy or two.

    Any traditional guys help out here?
     
  14. MRH

    MRH New Member

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    Try to get a hold of some of the ITBS guys (Iowa Traditional Bowhunters Society) I know they have a web site, and they are always carving out longbows out of Osage orange. I have seen staves for around $50.00 so that might even earn you a couple bucks.
     
  15. Big Timber

    Big Timber Moderator

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    Muddy,
    Just trying to make a dollar....

    BT [​IMG]
     
  16. muddy

    muddy Administrator

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    Following your example Mr Sales Engineer. [​IMG]
     
  17. Rudd

    Rudd Life Member

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    actually Muddy you robbed poor threebeards thunder.....he posed the question early in the post.
     
  18. muddy

    muddy Administrator

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    My bad threebeards, hope you can forgive me. That's what I get for skimming.
     
  19. kbgibby

    kbgibby Threebeards

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    Hey Muddy,

    No problem! I exchanged a couple of emails with TimberPig and gave him the link:

    http://osageorange.com

    They're located here in Iowa and the site actually has quite a bit of information about the wood and building bows. You can also buy staves from them.

    I've often thought about building a bow, either a self-bow from osage or from a kit from Bingham Projects Inc. Someday ... [​IMG]
     
  20. bowmaker

    bowmaker Member

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    Three Beards
    Stop thinking about it and do it. It's not as hard as you might think, but two warnings. Don't try osage for your first bow as it can be very difficult to work with. Try white ash or hickory first. Second don't plan on stopping at one bow. After the first one the next 100 go pretty quick, and then you are really hooked.

    Timberpig
    If you really want to get rid of the hedge if there are any Amish in your area I bet they woould contract to cut them for posts and other things.
     
  21. Rudd

    Rudd Life Member

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    Thread Highjack-I know there is a self bow building 2 day course around the CR area. If my memory serves me correctly it is taught by one of the founding members of the IBA.....
     

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