Black Cherry Tree

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Black Cherry Tree- Timber and Veneer

Black Cherry trees are a valuable hardwood tree species grown as a tree plantation timber and veneer wood. Black Cherry is primarily used for American cabinetry, furniture and flooring. Second only to Black Walnut in value as a fine hardwood species, Black Cherry is prized for its rich color and fine graining. The fine, satiny texture of the wood is uniform and frequently wavy, with distinctive gum veins and pockets. The lustrous heartwood ranges from light to dark reddish brown, contrasting sharply with the sapwood, which may be light brown to pale with a light pinkish tone.

"there is an opportunity to make money growing Black Cherry trees in Europe. A Black Cherry tree grows faster due to a lack of pathogens in the soil"

Black Cherry tree seedlings were introduced to Europe some 50 years ago as an ornamental landscape tree. Today it is considered an invasive species because it grows so well. Scientists have discovered that an indigenous soil-borne pathogen inhibits the growth of black cherry tree seedlings in most areas of North America but the pathogen is not present in the soils across Europe. Because of this, Black Cherry growth rates are double those in North America.

The lack of growth slowing soil pathogens in soil presents a unique opportunity to create faster growing Black Cherry tree plantations in Europe.

Black Cherry Tree Plantation

A Black Cherry tree plantation earns between $30,000 and $50,000 per acre. Thinned trees and branch cuttings are sold as wood pellets.

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cherry tree

Black Cherry Wood

Black Cherry wood is commonly seen in cabinetry and furniture. It is sometimes used as flooring because of its durability. Black Cherry flooring is just under forty-four percent harder than Douglas fir, around seventy-three percent as hard as Red Oak and close to two thirds as hard as Maple.

Black Cherry Tree Seedlings

The native range of Black Cherry centers around the Great Lakes region of North America, but can grow as far south as Florida and the west in British Columbia, Canada and Washington State.

Fast Growing Black Cherry Trees

Fast growing Black Cherry trees can earn tree plantation owners profits in half the time. Typically, tree farmers can wait several decades before harvesting Black Cherry trees for timber. Given the right soil conditions, climate, water supply and culling techniques, a 15 feet tall Black Cherry tree seedling can be ready for harvest just 20 years after transplant.

Tree caliper diameters are a minimum of 1” to ensure transplant survivability. Black Cherry tree seedlings range from a height of 10 to 20 feet depending on the number of growing cycles. Seedlings are shipped clear of branches and easily transplanted using a PTO driven posthole auger.

The creation of a 20-foot tall tree plantation the first year of transplant offers many advantages for timber investors:  

Black Cherry Tree seedlings grow even faster in field after transplant

Tall Black Cherry tree seedlings produce superior quality veneer sawlogs

A Black Cherry tree plantation improves land holdings and creates exponential monetary value

A Black Cherry Timber asset can be sold, leveraged or used as collateral

Black Cherry Tall tree seedlings shorten time to harvest

Black Cherry North American Growing Zones

Black Cherry native growing areas are concentrated in Eastern Canada and the United States including areas of Mexico. Black Cherry may also be grown in microclimate areas of the Western States and Canada, principally the central interior province of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.

cherry growth zone map

Black Cherry Plantations

Black Cherry tree plantations can be both profitable and good for the environment, attracting all types of flora and fauna throughout its lifetime. Multi-cropping is possible with certain species of mushrooms.

Timber Plantation Costs

Black Cherry plantation costs average between $500 and $1,000 per acre depending on how many acres are planted per project – the more acres 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 will 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 for maximum growth and yield. Although Black Cherry will grow in shade, it may take 3 to 4 times longer to mature into sizeable sawlogs.

Calculate the number of trees per acre and spacing between Black Cherry trees

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 cherry tree seedlings from grazing dear. Starting a Black Cherry plantation with tall tree seedlings 10 feet or more 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 Eastern or Western cedar and Tamarack. A planting of another tree species for every 20 black cherry trees should be adequate.

Superior Wood - Popular Tree

The following comments where collected from a national wood products discussion forum using Black Cherry in the United States and Canada.

cherry tree stand

Comment from contributor A:

Black Cherry, in my opinion, is a wonderful wood and my personal favorite, except for the expense. If finished right, it will develop a rich patina with time and exposure to light. Generally, the light sapwood is removed and only the heartwood is used. However, some manufacturers use it all and bleach all the natural color out of it then add a stain to recolor. Generally, Pennsylvania Black Cherry commands a premium price. When I was visiting Colonial Williamsburg, they were working with VA Cherry and said it was no where near the quality of the PA Cherry.

Comment from contributor B:

Cherry is extremely popular with cabinetmakers. Cherry is easy to work, fine textured, strong and fairly durable. Highly rated in all working properties including wood bending and turning and becomes darker and richer with age. Cherry finishes smoothly and is dimensionally stable. It is easily machined. It can be sawn cleanly, turned well, and planed excellently with standard cutting angles. Screw-holding ability is good, as is gluing, except where gum streaks are present. The gum content can make it susceptible to scorching from blade friction. The scorching is best avoided with sharp tools and fast feed rates, where possible. Durability is rated as very resistant to heartwood decay. Wild Black Cherry has an exceptionally fine figure and almost satiny light reddish-brown color. Its figure and stable, close grain have been valued by furniture and cabinetmakers for centuries. It is light and strong. This tree's rich red heartwood makes it one of the most valuable trees in the forest. Large, veneer-grade Black Cherry trees can be worth many thousand dollars each. Hardwood lumber mills are constantly seeking quality sources of this species. Thus it is becoming increasingly rare to find stands of reasonably sized Black Cherry trees.

Comment from contributor C:

What happened to those 158 towering, mature Black Cherry trees - which may have been worth up to $4 million as hardwood - the Cook County Forest Preserve District cut down in south suburban Swallow Cliff Woods? That is the most intriguing question I've been getting from Chicago Sun-Times readers since last Thursday's column on a new federal lawsuit challenging the district's controversial "restoration" project in the preserves.

Comment from contributor D:

Black Cherry is not abundant outside its commercial range. It accounts for only 0.3 percent (about 3 billion cubic feet) of the net volume of hardwood growing stock on commercial forest land in the eastern United States and only 0.2 percent (about 5 billion board feet) of the net volume of hardwood saw timber. Approximately one-half of the current growing stock is 11 inches in diameter or smaller. Chances of increased timber volume under present practices do not appear good, although the commercial range extends from southern New York to West Virginia, the better quality material is generally found in quantity only in Pennsylvania. The wood is of high quality here because of the harsh winters. The continued high demand for the better grades for use in furniture, veneer, and plywood along with the small volume available seem to insure an increasingly short supply. It is not grown in plantations in any volume. Current lumber prices for Black Cherry rank the species comparable in value to hard maple; higher than ash, but lower than Yellow Birch. Cherry is most valuable in veneer log form, and prices up to $700 per thousand board feet are being paid for the best logs.

Invest In A Black Cherry Tree Plantation

Depending on market conditions, Black Cherry earns gross revenue between $30,000 and $50,000 per acre in year 30 and double that in year 50. In year 10, thinned trees may be sold and/or converted into wood pellets. Black Cherry is a relatively fast growing species. If a tree has room to grow, on a well-drained site, it is possible to gain one full inch of radial growth in just 7-8 years. This is equal to two inches of diameter growth. That’s four inches of diameter growth in 15-16 years. This can be doubled again by eliminating pathogens in the soil.



Black Cherry Tree

The best time to plant a Black Cherry tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!

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