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shelter belt help-come on you guys/girls

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Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
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northeast nebraska
i have an older shelter belt that i'm not sure what to do to maintain; you all can help, just get your heads out of borders/r-calf/etc. see: post in ranch talk. love ya'all! please reply--need input!
Mow or till down the rows, leave the old grass if you want for birds and such. Tried to post awhile ago and it wouldn't go through.
rancher, you're one of a kind (!), but if you saw this shelterbelt, you would FORGET the mowing nonsense--it would take a bulldozer!! i'm just rying to figure out what to save, what to pull out and burn and what to coddle....what's good to save, what to "euthanize"?
If it is alive keep it, in my country any tree is a good tree. The drought is taking a toll on my cottonwoods. You could get the BLM to do a back fire, they need lots of practice. Every back fire I have seen has burnt more than the orginal fire. So number the trees, put in a hat and pull out numbers for the trees you want to keep. Hell I don't know, call your extension agent. :lol:
well,geez you guys! if i let the BLM/volunteer FD have at it, i wonder if my property insurance covers it? free firewood: i'd have no shelterbelt at all (and this one is on the north side), so forget that. i'm thinking i like oldtimers idea of goats to clean it up (and make MONEY!!)--i'm no worse than a cattle feeder, right??!! lol
Sorry Chuckie,

Without more information on the current status of your belt it's hard to say.

We had an old shelterbelt with standing dead chinese elm trees throughout it. As long as these dead trees are standing they still provide windbreak.

What we did was take out the outside row of caraganas, towards the prevailing wind, and replace it with a row of Rocky Mountain Junipers and added another row of Rocky Mountain Junipers where the fence used to be.

Once these trees grow up enough to provide adequate windbreak, we will take out two more rows and replant them with another row of RMJ's and a row of Hackberrys.

If you are from NE nebraska, I would plant nothing but Rocky Mountain Junipers for windbreak.

Put them in fabric too and ask your conservation district about cost share on the fabric. They will grow so much faster. I planted RMJs 7 years ago that are now 8' tall.

No, I am talking about using the fabric mesh that is made out of the same material as the old black plastic baler twine. It's 6' wide and blocks the weed growth. After you plant the trees, you roll the fabric over the trees. Then you take a knife and slit the fabric and pull the trees through. Don't get too far ahead of yourself if you are planting on a hot day as the trees can bake under the hot fabric. This fabric not only blocks weed growth for 3' on both sides of the tree but pulls moisture from the ground to the surface.

Also pay attention to tree spacing and row spacing. I would allow at least 18' between rows to give the snow room to dump and I would plant the RMJs at least 8' apart. Old tree spacing recommendations figured half the trees would die. Nowdays, a 90% take on new plantings of RMJs is very common.

i'll have to get a tree book and ID what i have in there--there's not the first evergreen, the oldest (biggest) trees are 50' tall at least, not dead, but the undergrowth is what is worrying me the most--see-you all are already helping me define the problem.
how does this RMJ take partial shade? and is it as prolific as the cedar and mulberry around here? ie, once it gets a hold, you can't stop it spreading? is hackberry a bush or tree? i haven't messed with this shelterbelt simply because it gives shelter to both turkeys and pheasants and i don't want to screw it up for them. BTW, liberty belle-no hunting on my huge acreage..! the dogs would get 'em!
What locals call "cedar trees" are mostly Rocky Mountain Juniper.

Hackberrys are a medium heigth hardwood tree

Not sure how RMJs would take partial shade.

chuckie: "BTW, liberty belle-no hunting on my huge acreage..! the dogs would get 'em!"

A pheasant is so rare in this country that we celebrate any that show up and really protect them. Same thing with ducks, geese, grouse, partridge and sage hens. When I say I'm a bird lover, I don't mean roasted with mushrooms! Growing up, I had no choice but to eat wild birds and wild game. Now I have a choice so we eat beef and lamb and just enjoy watching the birds.
In all honesty...I didnt know what a shelter belt was...until I started reading these posts...and since I didn't know...I'm not gonna add 2 cent's worth.....living in south east texas I guess we don't need shelter belts. haha..but we got some sure nuff over grown fence rows...anyone wanna come help clean em out?
Shelterbelt; I have no experience but over grown fencerows with rusted out fence I can help.
The only ways I have found to clean up a fencerow and build a new fence is to bull doze up in a pile then burn it. Then dig a hole and cover up the rest. Your new fencerow will grow right back unless you keep it sprayed.
I priced mettle "T" post the other day and they were running about $4.00 + each. That makes cutting cedar trees for post look a lot better. Therefore, if your cows are staying in I recommend you leave the old grown up fence tow and patch as needed.
Come on Mike, that is a corsett. Women in the late 12th through 19th century wore those to keep and hourglass profile, interestingly enough though they caused massive gastro-intestinal problems. A shelterbelt is a assortment of vegetation to block wind, snow, etc. for livestock.
I am not that much up on trees. I think where SF lives there near the SD Badlandsthe Rocky Mountain Juniper ( think they are sometimes called Silver Cedar) is probaly the native cedar.

Wher I live the Red Cedar or Virginia Juniper is one of the prefered conifers for windbreaks. Farther East where you are, they become invaders in pastures so are not favored. The Virginia Juniper produces seed every year, that is the female trees do. The Rocky Mountain Juniper takes two years for the seed to develop. They might not be as troublesome. Are your tall trees cottonwoods? If you are in an area where they get plenty of moisture leave them, they like their feet in water, in the right places they will live for years. If you have dieing Elms, you might as well take them out. I still give the old Siberian or Chinese elm some credt, for if it had not been for that tree, people here may have never attempted to plant trees, but they only live about 25 years.

Dead trees and fallen trees still offer some benefit to wildlife, so you have to take time and evaluate what you have and what you want in the end.
I hear ya there Alabama.....This fence that I"m referring to..runs along the railroad...thank heavens for that....they are replacing a trussel bridge and have given us all the old cross ties , somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 decent ones..they make great H braces....then they are required to furnish supplies to build new fence, ever so many years. So we'll be gettin with them about the T posts and wire. All the old T posts however will be pulled out with the tractor and saved for use somewhere else. I dont care if the fence posts is perdy ...long as it does it's job.
And yes I agree on the pile it up and burn it....then take the dozer and dig a hole and bury what's left. Don't know what we'd do without our little John Deere dozer, comes in real handy for fence work.
Yes you need to save all the "T" post you can. But it ain't going to be easy to get to the old post. I have pushed the front end loader in to the old post and hooked a chain to each one and pulled them up. With the roots grown up around the post you will never pull them with a post puller. It takes a front end loader and a hook up man dressed in a heavy coat to keep from getting scratched up.
The last time I re-did a fence I put up a hot wire about 100 feet inside the old one while I did the work. Then removed the temp one.
greet news about the rail road. Can you get them to build the new fence too?

Good luck.

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