The Boardman Tree Farm is located in Morrow, county Oregon, along Interstate 84, 5 miles west of the I-82 junction. Owned by the GreenWood Tree Farm Fund and operated by a Portland-based tree farm management group GreenWood Resources, this 25,000-acres land consist of thousands and thousands of hybrid poplar trees. The trees are neatly arranged in evenly spaced rows, and they are about the same size, same height and same thickness. It’s such a surreal sight that GreenWood Resources would conduct group tours for those visitors willing to invest some time and effort.
The Boardman Tree Farm is just one of the many holdings of GreenWood Resources in North America, South America, and China, but clearly one of the most accessible, being located next to the interstate. The farm is broken up into 40-acre and 70-acre plots with access roads separating the plots from each other on all sides. Each plots consist of about 600 trees per acre.
For irrigation, the farm employs nine 1,000 horsepower pumps that pull water from the Columbia River at a rate of up to 117,000 gallons per minute. In fact, the facility is the largest drip irrigation system in the country, with over 9,000 miles of drip line. All of this is controlled by computer so that each tree gets a very precise amount of water, allowing it to grow at an incredible rate while not wasting water or money. Use of chemical pesticides is limited, as integrated pest management processes are employed. Sawdust and the refuse from harvesting is chopped back into the soil, limiting the need for chemical fertilizers.
The type of tree they grow at the Boardman tree farm is called Pacific Albus, a trademarked name that loosely means Pacific whitewood. It’s a hybrid of four to five different poplars, cross strained for better yield, faster growth, less use of irrigation water, straighter growth, and things like that.
The trees take 10 to 12 years to reach maturity after which they are felled and sent to the mill where they are shaped into boards and wood chips. The wood chips are used for paper manufacturing, while older, taller trees are harvested for lumber products. Any part of the trees that can’t be made into boards is turned into pulp or hog fuel. Even the sawdust from the sanding mill is compressed into bricks for fireplaces and wood stoves.
Harvesting is contracted out to independent logging companies. Joe Nash, who is responsible for felling and harvesting of the trees at the Boardman Tree Farm, says, “On a normal day, we’ll do 25 loads of saw logs and another 25 loads of chip logs from the saw log side, and probably 13 loads of chip logs from our thinning side. So that’s up around 65 loads a day that we’ll deliver to the mill, and each load averages about 35 to 40 net tons.”
The sawmill, operated by GreenWood Resources, is located roughly in the center of the tree farm, and process the produce of 2,000 acres of land each year.
The processed lumber is then sold all over the world with China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, along with Mexico, aa the biggest off-shore buyers.