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Buying firewood? Knowing heat values could aid your choice

K-State's Upham gives tips for choosing firewood 

K-State Research and Extension news service 

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Not all firewood is created equal. 

That’s the word from Kansas State University horticulture expert Ward Upham, who said the wood from some tree species produces more heat than others. 

High on the list are red, bur and post oak species, which produce a heat value of 25 (measured in millions of British Thermal Units, or BTUs). In a list of many common types of firewood,  

Upham said only Osage Orange (32.6), honey locust (25.6) and black locust (28.3) rate higher than the oaks. 

But, he adds, Osage Orange is not always the best choice due to its tendency to spark – “do not use in an open fireplace,” he said – and black locust can be difficult to split. 

Many elm varieties and hackberry rate high (all around 20) but elm can be difficult to split, as well. 

Upham said the Kansas Forest Service publication, http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/mf773.pdf">Managing Your Woodland for Firewood, is a helpful resource for landowners interested in growing and harvesting firewood. The publication is http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/mf773.pdf">available online. 

For homeowners, Upham advises buying firewood locally to prevent spread of pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer, an exotic beetle that has devastated tens of millions of ash trees in 30 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“Emerald Ash Borer has spread in Kansas primarily because of firewood,” he said. 

Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes. The newsletter is https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/newsletters/index.html">available to view online or can be delivered by email each week. 


Interested persons can also send their garden- and yard-related questions to Upham at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact your https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/about/stateandareamaps.html">local K-State Research and Extension office. 


Links used in this story:

K-State Horticulture Newsletter, https://hnr.k-state.edu/extension/info-center/newsletters/index.html 

K-State Research and Extension local offices, https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/about/statewide-locations.html 

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the KState campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.  

For more information: 

Ward Upham 


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