How much feed can Honey Locust add to your stockpile?

“The tree grows in a Bermuda pasture and is always loaded in the fall with luscious fruit. The cows and hogs stand under it, always ready to devour every pod that falls. The tree is very large and very, very beautiful. The cows improve in milk and the hogs in weight when the locusts ripen, for there are always bushels and bushels on the tree.” -Ellen Williams of Georgia, quoted in J. Russell Smith’s Tree Crops (1929)  If you’ve read my previous article on honey locust, you know it is a game-changing source of winter stockpiled feed. Throughout most of the United States, there is no better tree to add feed to a farm during those critical winter months. Now, let's take a closer look at the value of honey locust pods, and just how much feed they can add to your stockpile. Before we get started though, let’s be clear: your results will vary. Whether you’re on rocky soils in New York or a well-drained valley bottom in Georgia or a windy knob in Kansas will play a big factor in the yields you get. Sorry, but if you’re on a hill in Vermont, you’ll never get the pod yield a grazier on Mississippi bottomland can expect. So adjust your expectations accordingly. Let’s start by establishing the forage yield on this model farm. I’ll use the hay yield data from 2019 in Virginia (a state where honey locust grows well and has been well studied). The data shows average hay yields of 2.2 ton/acre. Let’s assume good management and round that number up to 2.5 t

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9 thoughts on “How much feed can Honey Locust add to your stockpile?

  1. Honeylocust are awesome trees. We’ve planted some, left wild ones along and will plant more along with persimmons.

  2. Great info. AMAZING feed yields. Thanks. I am curious about creating a living fence/hedge row with honey locust. Any thoughts to share on this ponder?

    1. Hi Annie,

      They should do fantastic in that role. I’d direct-seed them a few inches apart. You could go to Sheffield Seed and buy the seed you need. Might as well get the standard thorny stuff if you want a really strong fence. Or you can get the thornless seed (look for the word ‘inermis’, which means thornless). Even so you’ll get a certain percentage with thorns, just to be aware.

    1. Milwood mentioned is thornless. I have thornless Hersey and Calhoune. The ones you want have high yields and no or few thorns. There are thornless ornamental types widely cultivated but they have a low pod yield. I’ve got several wild ones I let grow around the pasture as well because of their high yield. I know they’re a tractor risk but I either transplant, dig up or graft to any seedlings I find.

    2. I fully agree with Anthony’s comment. One thing to note is that grafted trees are thornless, because the graft material is taken from upper, mature parts of the tree. Since the tree only produces thorns on the lower, younger parts of the tree (a defense mechanism against large herbivores), the upper sections genetically no longer produce thorns. It’s a nice little biology trick.

      So when you grow trees from seed, some number will have thorns on them. I’ve yet to find a source that’s 100% thornless. But you can graft on to a thorny tree, and it will become completely thorness. If you graft on a high-yielding variety (Calhoun, Hershey, Millwood, etc) you’ll get high yields of good pods as well.

    1. Mine have survived the brush hog. They usually come back. Deer scrapes could cause them to send out new shoots from the roots. I’ve never seen a deer scrape on most. I have had issues with deer eating the leaves from short trees. They LOVE the leaves. I keep them in a 5′ tree tube until they’re taller.

    2. These trees are tough as nails. I’ve seen one seedling survive being in the middle of a portable pig pen for a week, with the pigs rolling all over it. Even still I usually start all my trees in a 6′ tree shelter if protecting against cattle, 5′ if only deer or sheep. That’ll give them the good boost to get started, and protect them from herbivores.

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