10 Pine Straw Harvesting Questions Answered

Pine Straw Over Crocus. Don Johnston /All Canada Photos/Getty Images

Pine straw is fast becoming the favored mulch and ground-cover for landscapers and homeowners in urban America. This trend is providing another "non-traditional" ways for a pine forest to provide extra income to the forest owner. Here are the most frequently asked questions about the increasingly lucrative pine needle harvest.

Here are answers to many questions asked by people wanting to learn a bit more about harvesting pine straw. This Frequently Asked Questions page is for those interested in growing pine straw for harvest or for those who want to use pine straw as a mulch.

Q: When is a pine forest ready for its first needle harvest?
A: You have a potentially productive situation when an already established stand of pines reach at least 8 years of age.

Q: What species of pine is considered the best for mulching and landscaping?
A: Raking and baling is much easier when you have long needles. A short needled tree is nearly impossible to prepare correctly for handling, transporting...read more.

Q: What season do you harvest pine needles?
A: The Fall. It has been found that October and November are usually the best months to harvest straw as it is when you will harvest the most in the best condition...read more.

Q: At what age is a pine forest most productive for needles?
A: Needle-fall in a pine stand increases with age to a peak at age 15 years. The drop remains relatively constant...read more.

Q: What can I expect pine straw yields to be?
A: If you begin raking when a pine stand is 6 years old, the yields will be relatively low at 50 to 75 bales per acre. At age 10, pine straw...read more.

Q: Is removing needles from a site harmful?
A: Yes and no. Repeated removal of the pine straw may have dramatic effects on a forest stand...read more.

Q: Should I fertilize my pine stand?
A: Fertilizer may be used to improve tree growth and replace some of the nutrients that are removed with raking. Fertilization may also increase...read more.

Q: What should I expect to get for my pine straw?
A: Sources in North Carolina suggest that "Private landowners often sell their longleaf pine straw to producers, who do the raking and baling. The producer pays...read more.

Q: Where can I get pine straw help?
A: The best source of information on pine needle mulch is with your agricultural extension forester or your state forester...read more.

Q: Why is the pine needle so popular a mulch to homeowners?
A: Landscapers and building contractors are just discovering that pine straw works much better than bark nuggets or...read more.