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University of Minnesota Extension

Managing jack pine forests

Quick facts

  • Jack pine grows best on well-drained sandy soils.
  • Rotations generally are 40 to 70 years.
  • On all soils except dry, sandy soils, species other than jack pine are more productive and valuable for wood product.
  • Jack pine seedlings require full sunlight.
  • To reduce losses from pests, harvest stands before they reach 50 years.
Jack pine savanna after recent restoration harvest
Jack pine savanna after recent restoration harvest

Jack pine is mainly used for pulpwood, but also for poles and small sawlogs. It is moderately useful for deer food.

Young trees may be heavily browsed where deer populations are high. The deer will eat the trees’ buds and twigs. Dense, young stands provide cover for snowshoe hares. Dense sapling and poletimber stands offer some wildlife shelter, but not as much as most other conifers.

Older jack pine stands are usually less dense than other conifer stands. This allows understory shrubs and herbaceous plants to grow, offering food and cover to wildlife.

Growing conditions


Regenerating jack pine


Intermediate treatments


Pest management

To reduce losses, harvest stands before they reach 50 years.

To maintain vigorous stands on good sites, thin regularly. By doing so, you:

  • Remove suppressed and low-vigor trees.
  • Avoid damage to residual trees.
  • Reduce flower production.
  • Help control both budworms and bark beetles.

Mel Baughman, emeritus Extension forester

Reviewed in 2018

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