Schorn & Groh acquires Finland birch burl plantation

Schorn & Groh of Karlsruhe purchased an entire birch burl plantation from the Finnish Forest Research Institute in February of this year. The 65-year-old plantation has an estimated volume of more than 20 tons of export quality timber.

The Schorn & Groh plantation "Mikko´s visakoivikko" near Hauho was planted in 1937 by the Finnish Forest Research Institute. Shortly after the purchase was finalized in March 2011, Schorn & Groh harvested the first trees, some 170 trunks in all. For birch the dimensions were quite unusual: lengths of up to 3.2 meters, averaging between 1.2 and 1.5 meters and diameters of up to 40 cm. The quality of the wood grain in the trunks' interior ranges from good to very good. This birch burl fulfills the demanding requirements for use in automobiles and interior joinery.

Birch burl has a particularly fascinating decorative grain. The subtle wrinkling in the trunk's bark creates narrow, dark inclusions that stand out in the wood structure. The resulting white and beige pattern is reminiscent of dancing flames.
Schorn & Groh will offer birch burl as raw veneer or as semi-finished spliced veneer, backed with fleece - fleece´n´flex - or if the customer wishes, with some other finishing process. Customers may personally inspect and select their veneer leaves. The first shipment of birch burl from Finland is expected to arrive at the Karlsruhe veneer warehouse in May.
"I firmly believe that birch burl has a future," said Axel Groh, managing director and head buyer at Schorn & Groh GmbH. "The wood is pale and light and not at all dominant. It integrates beautifully and yet has a distinctive look and very natural character. Birch burl is particularly suitable for use on large surfaces and objects."
The rare birch burl, which is called curly birch in Finland, grows in the northern regions of Europe in Finland, Russia and Estonia. The tree has been planted over the past few decades in Finland by the Finnish Forest Research Institute.

Back in 1922 a German scientist published a series of studies entitled "The Wisa Disease of Birch in Finland" The Finnish Forest Research Institute followed up with its own study, began planting birch burl in plantations in the 1930s and investigated the reason for the "visatauti", or birch disease. Today it is suspected that birch disease was triggered by viruses. Besides the Schorn & Groh plantation, the greater Hauho area has other plantations which have not yet been released for sale.
The Finnish name for birch burl is "visakoivu", which means tough and hard. The wood is among the most precious and most expensive in the world. Long ago the birch was considered mystical and sacred and was known as the tree that the devil had marked. The legend says that the devil was so annoyed by a farmer searching for firewood that he angrily grabbed the closest birch trunk with his claws. The marks from the devil's claws can be seen on every debarked birch tree.
For more than a century craftsmen have used the wood to make tools, knife handles and art objects. Other uses include furniture production, interior trim work in palaces and parliament buildings, particularly in Northeastern Europe. Since 1920 birch burl has been raised from seeds in large plantations. Up to 300 hectares/year have been cultivated with cloned specimens since 1990. It is estimated that birch burl will be available in large quantities in about 50 years. Today about one-third of the 60 tons of A-grade goods comes from plantations, with the rest harvested from natural growth.

SOURCE: Schorn & Groh

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