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Missouri Tops in These Things from Trees

Dec 31, 2007

With all the talk about development of new technologies and tech businesses floating around, here’s a down-to-earth reminder that Missouri still has strong roots in the land. Did you know Missouri is the leading producer this year of charcoal, barrels and black walnut meats—three things that come from trees?

barrelsLisa Allen, Missouri’s state forester, and I were sitting around a table in her office the other day. She picked up a book given to her by one of our retired foresters, Bob Massengale. It’s called “Black Gold, A History of Charcoal in Missouri.” It probably won’t make it to the bestseller lists, but it’s certainly a unique resource on a topic that’s likely overlooked.

Most people probably don’t think about charcoal (especially since gas and electric grills appeared). And if they do, they may likely think it’s from coal rather than wood. But it is indeed something Missouri produces from wood—and more than any other state. One of the other things on that list Lisa mentioned included black walnut meats. Years ago, I did a video story on a company in Stockton that does so much with all the parts of black walnuts. If I recall correctly, the shells are crushed and used for high-powered polishing and drilling too.

The third thing on the list is barrels. Missouri oak barrels are used to age wine from California to France. They’re used for whiskey too. The title for tops in barrel-making goes back and forth between Tennessee and Missouri. But this year we’re the winners.

So here’s to Missouri’s trees! And a happy New Year.

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