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Introduction to Midwest Hardwoods
The central Midwest is one of the most productive biological regions in the world. It’s a place where the eastern forest intermixes with the western prairies. The terrain is gentle, the soils are rich and highly productive, and moisture is normally abundant. This combination of factors makes the region noteworthy for its agricultural productivity. The same combination of factors also produces timberlands with the finest and highest quality temperate hardwoods in the world.
These timberlands are often smaller parcels associated with streams or other irregular terrain that host a beautiful matrix of agriculture cropland and woodlands. Most of the woodlands are privately owned and managed for the production of hardwood sawlogs and veneer logs. The pulp and paper industry that tends to harvest younger trees is not an important factor in the region, or when present, often compliments the lumber mills by utilizing chips produced from residues.
Central Midwestern woodlands are diverse with a wide range of species. The area is noted for the finest walnut and white oak available anywhere, as well as other quality major species that include red oak, ash, hickory, maple, cherry, yellow poplar, and others. Minor, but yet very distinctive and beautiful species include coffeetree, honey locust, black locust, and sassafras. Lesser-valued woods such as gums, willow, sycamore, and cottonwood are a minor component of the species mix. The central Midwest, and particularly Indiana, played a significant role in the history of the hardwood industry. At the turn of the century, Indiana led the nation in total lumber production for nearly ten years. The timber was and is of high quality and is located close to major markets. Major processing equipment developments also occurred in Indiana at the same time. These include dry kilns, sawing equipment, and the Capital Veneer Lathe that is still the dominant machine in the industry. Acre for acre, the central Midwest continues to produce the highest quality hardwood timber available. In this tour, you will learn about each of the different species, or species groups, grown in the region. You will find information on the physical and mechanical characteristics, appearance, unique properties, grading, and value. Wall panels show the variation and characteristics of species; close-up images show grain pattern and microscopic structure. Tables compare the properties of one species to another. Enjoy learning more about the beautiful, valuable, and renewable resources of hardwood lumber.