Woodland - Summer 2020 - 34

Insatiable
Demand for
White Oak Barrels
Charred white oak
barrels give bourbon its
color and flavor, making
them indispensable to the
growing bourbon industry. To
understand why demand for
white oak staves is so high,
look no further than Kentucky,
which accounts for 95% of
the global bourbon supply,
according to the Kentucky
Distillers' Association.
Through 2018, Kentucky
had 68 distilleries, up 250% in
the past decade, according to
the association. At 1.7 million
barrels in 2019, Kentucky's
bourbon production has
increased more than 115%
over the past five years,
driven largely by premium
small-batch and single-barrel
brands.
Kentucky has an inventory
of 7.5 million barrels of
bourbon, or about 1.8 barrels
for every person living in the
state, which has a population
of almost 4.5 million,
according to U.S. Census
data.
Many of those barrels are
made from white oak staves
that originate from Ohio's
family forests. Brown-Forman
and Ohio Stave Company
have produced staves in
Ohio for many years. Ohio's
one cooperage is Speyside
Bourbon Cooperage Inc.,
which in February celebrated
a milestone when it produced
its one-millionth barrel, less
than five years after opening
its facility.
C

34 WOODLAND * Summer 2020

"I've been hitting it really hard
since about 2011," Farley said
of his active land management.
"Prior to that, I was too busy
raising children and working full
time. I've accomplished a good
bit of what I want to do, but I have
another 25 acres that I want to
work on, and that would probably
be understory cleaning to help
oak regeneration. There's a lot
of pressure on our remaining
white oak, and we want to grow
as much of it as possible so we
can have it both for wildlife and
economic purposes."
Cassie Ridenour, chair of the
Ohio Tree Farm System, also
has been promoting white oak
regeneration on her 239-acre tree
farm. Last year, she used EQIP
funding for a midstory removal
project on 16 acres. Some trees
were cut down, while others were
girdled. Now, more light is indeed
reaching the ground, but that's
only part of the equation; white
oak regeneration also requires
inexhaustible patience.
A white oak tree can take 60
years or more to reach maturity
and will average 80 to 100 feet
in height, with some as tall as
150 feet. The ones on Ridenour's
treated parcel currently come up
to her ankles or knees.
"It takes time," she said. "It's
a life's work maintaining a forest.
We just have so many species
that want that light and grow
faster. Hopefully, this will work.
You have to try. The threat to
white oak is huge. When I was in
high school, the dominant forest
type in Ohio was oak/hickory,
but that might not be the case
in the future because the oak is
not regenerating. It's being cut
down because there are a lot of
consumers of oak.
"We love our oak, and our
wildlife loves our oak. They just
have so much beauty and so
much value, and they really belong
here, so as a forestry community,
we need to protect it."

Mitch Farley considers a leaning northern red oak
along an intermittent stream in Athens County, Ohio. 
IMAGES COURTESY OF MITCH FARLEY.

Bringing Together Stakeholders
Since so much of Ohio's forestland
is privately owned, the state is a high
priority for the White Oak Initiative, a
partnership of universities, state and
federal agencies, private landowners,
conservation organizations, trade
associations and forest-product
companies established in 2017.
The American Forest Foundation,
the University of Kentucky and the
DendriFund developed the concept
of the White Oak Initiative, which
is committed to the long-term
sustainability of white oak forests
and their economic, social and
environmental benefits.
The White Oak Initiative is targeting
17 states in the eastern U.S., from the
Upper Midwest to Maine and down
through much of the South. The
group is working with the U.S. Forest
Service and state conservation
agencies on two coordinated
landscape-scale restoration grants.
These grants have brought
significant private, federal and state
resources together to develop a
white oak conservation assessment
and plan of action. The grants
will also fund landowner surveys,
demonstration sites for oak



Woodland - Summer 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Summer 2020

Overstory
Forests and Families
Forest Interactions
Forestry Amid a Pandemic
National Treasure: The Return of Longleaf
White Oak in the Buckeye State
Tools and Resources
Amazon Makes Major Investment in Family Forests
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Intro
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover1
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover2
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 3
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Overstory
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 5
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forests and Families
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 7
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forest Interactions
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 9
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 10
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 11
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 12
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 13
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 14
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 15
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 16
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 17
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 18
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 19
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Forestry Amid a Pandemic
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 21
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 22
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 23
Woodland - Summer 2020 - National Treasure: The Return of Longleaf
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 25
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 26
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 27
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 28
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 29
Woodland - Summer 2020 - White Oak in the Buckeye State
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 31
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 32
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 33
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 34
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 35
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Tools and Resources
Woodland - Summer 2020 - 37
Woodland - Summer 2020 - Amazon Makes Major Investment in Family Forests
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover3
Woodland - Summer 2020 - cover4
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