Unit 4 - Forest Research: Past Applications

Lesson 4: Harvesting Technologies

Over the years, the Company used different harvesting technologies as they became available. In the early days, trees were cut by hand or power saws and horses hauled the logs.

Between 1966 and 1969, horses were phased out and replaced by mechanical skidders, which were basically tractors with winches.

In the early 1970s, concerns about worker safety and productivity resulted in the Company switching to feller-bunchers, which cut tree stems and piled them in a bunch for pick up by the skidder. De-limbing was done at the roadside by a special machine known as a flail de-limber.

On the heels of the feller bunchers came the first grapple skidders, which used small cranes to pick up stems for skidding. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a second revolution in harvest methods. The feller-processor was developed - a machine that de-limbs trees as they are harvested. This innovation is known as stumpside harvesting. It leaves the limbs and tree tops in the harvested area, which returns nutrients to the soil and allows for more natural seeding. This practice also eliminates the need to burn brush piles at the roadside, reducing concerns over air quality, potential wildfires, damage to the soil, and nutrient/seed cone loss.

In 1957 and 1958, the Company built their very own harvesting machine. Known as the Pope Harvester, it was intended to do all the jobs performed by modern harvesting machines. However, it had a couple of drawbacks.

First of all, it required a D-7 caterpillar to be positioned at each tree that was to be cut.

Secondly, its hydraulics did not function well.