Growing Apple Trees for Firewood
Many people think of apple trees as only having one purpose, which is of course, to produce apples for out eating enjoyment but apple trees have other uses. One of those uses is as firewood. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, you know that certain kinds of wood are better for burning. The kinds of wood that are better for generating heat are dense woods that are rated high in BTUs. Firewood is rated for its Heat Content by MBTUs or Million British Thermal Units and Pounds of Weight per dry cord of wood. One of the densest woods out there is Osage Orange; it’s MBTU rate for 1 cord is ~ 30 MBTU. White Oak, another popular hardwood used for firewood, is rated at around 28 MBTUs and Pine, a light softwood, is rated around 15 or 20 MBTU. The wood of apple trees falls right around the 25 MBTU range for 1 cord of dried wood.
So by these numbers you can see that apple wood is a dense word which contains a lot of energy that can be released when burned properly in a wood stove. Another feature of apple wood is that it is very fragrant when burned. This makes it an enjoyable wood to burn because the smoke isn’t as unpleasant or acrid as it can be with some other woods. Since it is so fragrant, apple wood is also commonly used to make natural incense and to smoke meats. If you have a smoker at home, apple wood would be a great source of smoke. The burned wood also makes a dense hardwood charcoal which can also be used for smoking or outdoor BBQ. Now that you are sold are growing apple trees for both fruit and wood, I bet you are asking yourself what kind of apple trees you should be growing.
Well, you may have to grow a few different kinds of apple trees to meet all of your needs. If you prefer a particular apple variety for eating, then by all means, grow that variety. You will probably not be able or not want to harvest a lot of wood from your eating apple trees. You will of course want to prune them and can always collect sticks and branches that it will drop. These would be great for smoking or fragrance when dried but to really use an apple tree you firewood, you will have to grow a tree to maturity and harvest the entire tree. The most practical way of doing this is finding a type of apple tree that is very fast growing. Red Delicious, one of more common eating apples out there, is known to be a fairly fast growing tree. When choosing a type of tree for firewood it is important to select the semi-dwarf or standard variety of apple. You would not want to select the dwarf variety as they will produce very little wood for you. It will take years for the tree to mature to a size where it can be harvested but if you plant a crop every year after the first planting, once the first crop is ready to be harvested, you can harvest another crop each year after that. This way you will have an unlimited source of apple wood heat for your home.