How is pine straw harvested?

Pine straw may be harvested mechanically or raked by hand. Mechanical operations are often conducted by a contractor who has a tractor-drawn rake that pulls the needles into piles between the rows of trees. Once the needles are raked into piles, a tractor-drawn baler collects and bundles the needles into bales that are bound with twine or wire. Bales may be round or square depending on the baler type used. Round bales may weigh as much as 40 pounds and …

Harvesting Pine Straw from a Forest

If you have longleaf, loblolly, or slash pines growing on your land, your forest is producing pine straw. But if you wish to harvest pine straw, simply having it is not enough—as with any forest farming activity, planning and active management are the keys to success. There are many stand and property characteristics that make a site suitable for pine-straw harvests. Consider the following factors to help you decide whether pine-straw harvesting is right for your property. 

Understory Brush

Does harvesting pine straw deplete the soil of nutrients over time?

Nutrient losses from a single removal of pine straw are small and not likely to affect stand productivity. Research indicates, however, that frequent raking can result in significant nutrient losses. Nutrient-deficient stands produce less wood and foliage, and, consequently, less pine straw, than stands with adequate nutrition. Studies show that harvesting pine straw reduces wood production by an average of 50 cubic feet (1.42m³ ) per acre if nutrients in the straw are not offset by fertilization. Commercial fertilizer applications …