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Hello all, I am new here and was wondering if any of you had any experience with clearing woodland for farming. I'm looking at a five acre plot of land to make into a farm but it's woods. How long will it take to make good farmland out of it? As in does the soil being so acidic from the pine needles, have to sit for awhile?

Thanks,
Chris
 

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Cannot answer your question about soil acidity from the pine needles other than doing a soil test once it is cleared. Maybe you have already thought about this, but if you clear the trees you may want to put in a cover crop or some other method of stemming soil erosion or you will be that much further behind in your goal of having farmland. (depending on the slope of the land, of course) I assume you are pulling the stumps out or do you have some other plan?
 

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I'm thinking about cutting the trees and any brush down and letting the stumps rot for a few years before I pull them out with my tractor.
 

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I'd advise you find 5 acres already cleared if you want to farm, save the wooded acres as that, wooded acres. 5 acres would make a nice woodlot and keep you warm during a long winter of global warming.
 

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Questions like this are common. Either someone has bought a field and wants a forest or someone has bought a forest and wants fields.
While there are exceptions, generally forests remained forests due to some unsuitability for crops. Too wet, too rocky, poor soil are common reasons.
If you had 100 acres of woods and wanted a 5 acre pasture or garden, maybe clear cutting, burning brush, getting an excavator to dig stumps and bury them might be more reasonable.
Buy what you want in the first place, IMHO.
 

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I'm thinking about cutting the trees and any brush down and letting the stumps rot for a few years before I pull them out with my tractor.
So this is pine forest? Good. That's much easier than hardwood forest.

Next, question, how are you going to keep it clear while they rot?

Forest is the end point of natural landscape. In other words, absent the interference of man, land tends to revert to forest. If there is damage to the forest , due to fire, or clear cutting or what ever, there is a succession of plants that will occur until the forest heals back to it's starting point.

So, when you cut it, how will you keep the shrubs in control, while grass gets established, and once established, how will you keep the shrubs from taking over the grass?

The stumps will prevent you from bush-hogging due to the risk of damaging it on the stumps. Another option is a lot of goats... but you need to get them on there pretty fast after clear cutting, which means water and fences. Another option is a controlled burn - very effective, and relatively inexpensive. Last, you can rent an excavator or dozer and clear it yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. But don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. It can. All it takes either time, effort and/or money. But there is a strong tendency to underestimate how much of each it will take....

Here, it costs about $1000 per acre to clear forest into land ready to plant. So, if you can buy 5 acres of pasture for under $1000/acre more than the cost of forest/acre, you are better buying it. Here, pasture is 2-3k more per acre than forest.

Best of luck,
 

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Overgrown pasture with 3-5 inch trees will take about 3 years of intensive bush hogging to return to pasture, at least in the south. Depends on how established your woodlands is and how long you are willing to wait. If quicker pasture needed, you will most likely need a bull dozer to clear the stumps and trees out. If longer time is acceptable, then up to you and your plans for the property.
 

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Its good farmland ALREADY ! After all it sounds like it has a nice crop of trees.

This is a simple question with lots of answers. How big are the trees? How deep do the roots go? How deep is the soil? What kind of soil is it? What are you going to do with the trees? Do you have particular crops in mind or are you willing to raise what the soil is right for?
Each of these and more will effect the answers.

Simply put the more you are willing to spend and the more flexible you are about crops the sooner you can get a crop .
 

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If the 5 ac are at a good price and a great location I would find someone in the area that could do land clearing and get a price. You could find out that for all that it would cost you could get already cleared land for the same price or less. Around here 5 acres is 5 acres and all cost about the same. The deal breaker for me would be location more than anything. People problems. Getting it ready to farm should not take to much,,, soil test.
 

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I'm thinking about cutting the trees and any brush down and letting the stumps rot for a few years before I pull them out with my tractor.
Then the length of time for that should be about seven to eight years, depending on stump diameter, maybe longer. BUT, I would NOT advise anyone to try to pull stumps, of any age or size, with a tractor. You can kill yourself doing that. Use a trackhoe or bulldozer. Time will be shorter, too. Time for roots to rot, if you don't rip them with a bulldozer ripper, will take maybe five years before a moldboard plow can be used without it constantly tripping.

And as others have said, while you are waiting for the pines to rot, other plants and shrubs will seize the opportunity to fill in the bare spaces and give you lots more trouble. Cheap land isn't always cheap if you include the fitting costs to convert it into fertile farmland.

geo
 

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We had a nice five-acre piece next to our farm that had been logged years ago, but had grown back up. Well, some people bought it, wanted to have horses, and clear cut 90% of it. They had horses for a year or two, and decided they were too much work.

There was at least a buffer between us, and then a few years ago they cut every last twig right up to the boundary line (stone wall). They're very nice people, and good neighbors, but they are LOUD.

I wish people would buy land that is suited to their needs, rather than just come in and destroy what's there. :( Don't get me wrong--I understand a few modifications, but the land has been completely changed!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
We had a nice five-acre piece next to our farm that had been logged years ago, but had grown back up. Well, some people bought it, wanted to have horses, and clear cut 90% of it. They had horses for a year or two, and decided they were too much work.

There was at least a buffer between us, and then a few years ago they cut every last twig right up to the boundary line (stone wall). They're very nice people, and good neighbors, but they are LOUD.

I wish people would buy land that is suited to their needs, rather than just come in and destroy what's there. :( Don't get me wrong--I understand a few modifications, but the land has been completely changed!
I know what you mean. I hate those "new" developments that clear cut the land right to the boundary line.
 
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