Tutorials/Tree farming

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A time-efficient farm, working for oak and birch trees.

Tree farming is the process of planting a large number of saplings and waiting for them to grow into trees. These trees are then harvested for wood and more saplings, which can be used to grow another generation of trees. This can be repeated indefinitely, yielding a regular supply of logs without the hassle of covering large areas of terrain. A secondary benefit of tree farming is that it allows conservation of the surrounding environment. The use of bonemeal can speed the process, or you can just plant your saplings and go do something else while they grow.

For detailed information on the mechanics of tree growth and structure, see the article on trees.


[edit] Which type of tree is best?

Because all six types have different advantages and disadvantages, the best tree to choose can vary with the situation. Oak trees are best at the beginning of the game or compact spaces, while birch is best in moderately sized fields or a community farm. Jungle or dark oak trees are best for mass-production of wood late in the game, when you have plenty of time and space on your hands. Acacias are neither convenient to farm nor very large, but they are ideal for space efficient farming (see below). For spruce trees, the normal tree forms run a little too tall for convenient harvesting, and are not especially convenient to farm. However, the new giant spruce competes with the jungle giant for wood quantity, without the branches to complicate harvesting. The initial saplings can be obtained in several biomes, and the giant consistently replaces them.

For raw wood yield per tree, either Oak or Jungle are the way to go, both because of their size and tendency to spawn branches. For automation, Birches are preferred, as they tend to have the most uniform height. (Generally eight blocks, including the top leaf block)

Different kinds of trees have different colors of wood. If building wooden structures, you may choose a specific type of wood for its color. Because the efficiency difference among tree types is only slight, looks do often take priority. If building or decorating with multiple wood types, having a tree farm for each is also useful.

[edit] Oak Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Easiest tree to find, present in multiple biomes.
  • Due to the possibility of large trees and their large number of leaves, they can give more saplings on average.
  • The smallest forms take less space than other trees, and can be grown in very small spaces.
  • Saplings can be found in villager chests.
  • Matches wood in "naturally generated" structures.
  • Small chance (0.5%) for leaves to produce Apple.
  • Large trees are tricky to harvest.
  • Sometimes the leaves start less than two blocks above ground, so you have to destroy them first in order to get to the log.

[edit] Birch Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Grows quickly.
  • Leaves never appear less than two blocks above ground, making harvesting quick and easy.
  • Consistently sized, slightly larger than small oak trees.
  • Small enough to harvest completely from the ground.
  • Appears in several common biomes.
  • Needs more vertical and horizontal space than the oak.
  • On average, yields the least wood per sapling of all trees, meaning large birch farms require significant horizontal space.

[edit] Spruce Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Tall; gives a lot of wood consistently. The new "giant spruce" form (plant 4 saplings in a 2×2 square) can give up to two stacks of wood, with no branches.
  • As of 1.7, spruce trees are found not only in taiga and variants, but also in extreme hills, making them by far the easiest to get of all 2*2 trees.
  • Small form seems to count other trees as growth obstacles; will not grow within two blocks of another tree. This does not apply to the large form, which will grow adjacent to other trees.
  • Leaves can spawn less than two blocks above ground, making harvesting more difficult.
  • Sometimes has few leaves, so fewer saplings.
  • The small form can often not be harvested from the ground.
  • The giant form doesn't come with vines like the jungle giant, so must be harvested by digging a staircase up.

[edit] Jungle Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • The "jungle giant" form is very large; four saplings can give up to two stacks of logs.
  • Easy and time efficient harvesting. If you harvest upwards in a spiral (or just use ladders), no wait is needed for the vines to grow.
  • If you have any cocoa beans, it can also serve as a cocoa bean farm.
  • Found only in a jungle biome, making it one of the rarest tree types.
  • Saplings drop half as often per leaf block compared to other types of trees—indeed, growing "small" jungle trees is probably unsustainable. Even jungle giants may occasionally produce fewer than 4 saplings. (This is rare—giant jungle tree farming is sustainable.)
  • Require a huge open space, unsuitable for small spaces, indoor, underground, or stealthy farming.
  • Moderately dangerous, as you can die from falling. If you instead choose to spiral up and get the rest on the way back down (still risky), it will take longer to harvest the whole tree.
  • Harvesting a jungle giant is a big job—depending on equipment and strategy, it will take a good chunk of a Minecraft day. And if you're using stone axes, bring two.

[edit] Dark Oak Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Grow extremely quickly, usually within several minutes.
  • Dark oaks have a large average yield due to their 2x2 trunk: 42 blocks of wood and 6 saplings.
  • Apples! Like the oak, the dark oak drops apples. They yield about one apple per two trees.
  • Considerably more compact and safe to harvest than jungle giants, only reaching 7-11 blocks in height
  • Hard to find. They only appear in the "Roofed Forest" biome
  • They require four saplings to plant. Unlike the jungle giants, there is no 1x1 variety of dark oak.
  • Sapling production is a little low, only 1 in 5 (or perhaps fewer) dark oak trees produce saplings plentifully. The remainder average about 4 saplings per tree, making them a difficult choice for a very small tree farm, and the player must be careful to gather almost all of the saplings dropped.

[edit] Acacia Trees

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Unique orange-colored wood makes for a distinctive building material or marker.
  • Drops more saplings and wood than other small trees due to its often two trunks, making it viable for a space efficient, densely grown farm.
  • Only appears in the Savanna biome.
  • Difficult to harvest due to unusual growth formation.

[edit] Farming Various Types of Trees

[edit] Simple farming

What you need:

  1. At least 4 saplings (any kind)
  2. A chest (optional)
  3. An axe of any type (optional)

First dig 1 block down. Count 4 blocks to the left and dig 1 block down. 4 blocks left again, dig one down. Repeat one more time. Then plant a sapling in every hole:

Wait a day (or use bonemeal), then harvest the trees (get the saplings too, for next time). Place the chest nearby and store the saplings(and axe, if you have one) in there. You can extend the grid if you like, as long as all the saplings are the same type.

[edit] Giant Tree Farming

Jungle and Spruce trees can be planted and grown just like any other tree. But unless you just want a little wood quickly, this is not very useful: Not only are they slightly too large to harvest easily, but the jungle trees drop saplings rarely, and may not even replace the one used to grow them.

However, four saplings can be grown into the "jungle giant" (or as of 1.7, "giant spruce") form, by planting them in a 2×2 formation: Warning: Aside from the saplings, make sure there are no blocks less than 2 blocks away from the saplings, at any height up to the future height of the tree trunk (up to 32 blocks). A huge tree with a 2×2 thick trunk will grow. These trees average ~96 wood (1½ stacks), and some can exceed 2 stacks. Bonemeal can be used on any (one) of the saplings to make the tree grow more quickly.

  • Especially if breaking the leaves on the spot, this can be most of a Minecraft day's work. Plan ahead—you may want to wait out the night 10 or 15 blocks up atop the trunk. Every so often, go back down to the ground to collect fallen wood and saplings—if you try to leave them until you've finished, some of the first logs and saplings will reach their 5-minute expiration. The fastest way to harvest a giant tree is with shears (bring a spare, you may use them up) and a diamond axe.
  • If you're using stone axes, bring a spare, as you will probably use up the first one.
  • As usual, top down is easiest.
    • For jungle giants, you can use those shears to harvest vines from two or three sides of the trunk to complete a track to the top, bashing or shearing the upper leaves.
    • For giant spruces or if you can't be bothered with the vines, you can just bring a half-stack of ladders.
    • If you do need ladders, but haven't got them, you can take a block or few of wood in a column (that is, a groove up the trunk), use those to make some ladders, and run the ladders up the groove, making more ladders as needed and as you mine the tree. (You might need to make a Crafting Table with the first block.)
  • When you reach the top, you will find one block of wood standing above the other three. Chop that to start the canopy decaying.
    • For jungle giants, it's best to stand on the trunk and clear all foliage above your foot level, then use the remaining leaves as a floor to get at branches and the edges of foliage. Go down level by level like this until you've got all the branches—watch for knots of foliage that aren't decaying even though they're separated from the trunk.
    • For spruce trees, it will usually suffice to cut away the foliage from the trunk (as far below your level as you can reach), to speed decay.
  • When you've got all the branches for a jungle giant, or immediately for a giant spruce, you can simply cut your way down the trunk.

[edit] Oak tree farming

Since the player can only harvest 7 blocks above the ground without climbing on something, the most efficient tree farm design limits the height of trees to 9 blocks. This allows 7 blocks of logs as a "trunk" and 2 block of leaves above that. This is accomplished by adding a ceiling at 9th block above the ground, leaving a space 8 blocks high in which trees can grow. This allows all of the wood from the trees to be harvested quickly and with minimal effort. The other option is to grab what you can from the ground and use a Flint and Steel to burn what you can't reach.

It should be noted that leaving 8 blocks of space for trees to grow will not guarantee that all trees grow to this height. Trees will grow with trunks 4, 5 and 6 blocks in height, but not higher. Some may also grow branches despite the height limitation.

This height issue can also be avoided by planting a sapling on the bottom of a 2-block-deep hole. This ensures that the top layer of the tree will still be reachable, and has the added benefit of preventing mobs from hiding in the shadow of the tree and surviving daylight. It also prevents growth of the smallest size, whose leaves would be blocked by the hole.

Note that oaks can grow through certain blocks: Small oaks can replace many blocks (fences, glass (but not glass panes), paintings, stairs, pistons, torches, buttons, ladders and doors), while the branch wood of large oaks can grow through even solid blocks (including chests).

Since trees will grow quite happily underground with a nearby light source, and will grow when in direct or diagonal contact with other trees, quite compact arrangements can be used for efficient use of space. The images to the right show that trees will grow quite happily in confined spaces and in close packed arrangements.

Underground saplings rely on torch light to grow. Various patterns of saplings and torches can be used to achieve varying degrees of space efficiency. Since saplings only require light level 9 to grow, a single torch starting at light level 14 can sufficiently light 60 saplings. However, this torch-efficient model comes at the cost of stability. Trees can grow and block the torch light to other saplings. Underground tree farms should stay clear of magma because a bug relating to the South/East rule may let magma affect any leaf/wood blocks occupying the same corner.

[edit] Space-efficient farming

It is also possible to grow trees, to maximize wood for the territory. However, since the canopies will overlap, you will get fewer saplings back. This was once only viable with oaks, but as of 1.7.2, birch and jungle trees no longer consider logs of any type as an obstacle to their growth, nor does acacia, added in the update. Spruce trees still require two blocks between another trees.

A space-efficient oak tree farm.

The most space-efficient way to prevent grown trees from blocking light to other saplings is to have every sapling directly next to a torch (not diagonal). This strategy yields a basic space efficiency of 70% since the pattern is made up of units of 1 torch + 4 saplings. The plus-sign shaped units can be arranged to completely fill an area.

It is recommended that the perimeter walkway and all blocks with a torch underneath be a different material, such as cobblestone. This will allow for quick visual identification during re-planting, of which blocks get saplings and which get torches that may have been inadvertently knocked out during harvest. It is recommended to do the same for torches on the wall, as these may get knocked off by growing trees.

A 16 by 7 farm, utilizing 94 Saplings and 24 torches, with a perimeter walkway.

This design takes account for the fact that all saplings adjacent to the walkway are supplied by light from the torches on the walkway. Thus the farm yields an efficiency of 84%.

Note when the tree farm is cut down, the amount of returned saplings per tree is much lower than cutting trees in a forest, as the canopy is shared by many trees. Therefore, when starting the farm, growing them more spaced out will yield more saplings per tree, letting you stock up for a desired tree farm size more quickly.

The same principle can be applied to sugar cane farms by replacing the torches with water and the trees with sugar cane. This can create a dual purpose farm by placing water with glowstone on top, this allows either trees or sugarcane (or both) to grow.

[edit] Farming Spruce and Birch Trees

Farming spruce trees in an efficient way.

Unlike oak trees, spruce and birch trees will never grow to a branched tree. This makes them easier to harvest, but to farm Birch and Spruce trees efficiently, more space is required. Birches can be planted next to other birches with 2 blocks of space between them since the birch leaves can overlap with other birch leaves. This same spacing holds true for spruces. However, when planting the different types of trees together, birch and spruce trees need 4 blocks of space in between the saplings (the tree will not grow if leaves of a different tree are obstructing its path). Both birch and spruce trees require 9 blocks of vertical space above the sapling to grow regularly (10 is more efficient for growth). Both Spruce and Birch will grow with less space, but not as regularly. Like other saplings, they must receive light level 8 or better to grow.

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[edit] Farming Acacia trees

Acacia trees will need six blocks space from the sapling to the ceiling, if there is any, and at least two empty blocks to each wall. So the minimum space that an Acacia tree requires to grow is a empty cube over the sapling of 6(height)x 5(wide) x 5(deep) blocks.

[edit] 3+ in 1

You can much more easily collect all the logs if you farm multiple trees in a special shape.

  • It does not matter if the birch trees are replaced by spruce or vice-versa.
  • To collect it in this fashion simply do as below:

1. Make all or most of the birch or spruce trees down to a stump and jump on each and every stump to collect the top logs.
2. Make one of the oaks have a spot in the trunk to jump in one block higher than you currently are and jump.
3. Now you can either jump one higher into the jungle or another oak's trunk after collecting all the logs overhead.
4. Continue step 3 until you have harvested all the upper logs.
5. Get rid of the stumps or "pillars" you stood on.
6. Repeat all steps to content.

[edit] Force growing trees

( This may not work anymore in 1.6. )

You can force grow a tree by limiting its minimum growth height, forcing it to grow as a certain size. This is done by placing blocks around the lower area, typically a loop of blocks floating around the sapling at a height of three or four blocks, with an opening in the center for the future trunk to grow through. This will prevent the tree from growing if it would collide with the blocks above, causing it to instead choose another height and attempt to grow again until it finds one which will allow it to grow through the hole. As a result, natural growth of such "tube trees" usually takes longer than others. This method will not force a tree to grow above the maximum height. This can be seen in the gallery. Bone Meal can be used to force growth, if you have enough of it: On each attempt, if the tree would have grown too short (leaves blocked by the ring), the bone meal will be used up without effect.

[edit] Elegant (/ Ethoslab) tree-farm

In his first LP season Etho created an elegant tree-farm in which 24 trees grow side-by-side in a 7x7 square, which design is still working today. The following videos (Tree-farm tutorial based on Etho's design -1 and Tree-farm tutorial based on Etho's design - 2) are giving a tutorial on how to create this type of tree-farm in the current minecraft versions (Sorry for the lag).
Note: The effective grow-area of this 7x7 tree-farm can be extended from 24 to 25 by putting a tree above the collection point in the middle of the 7x7 square.
Note 2: Etho uses bone meal to grow the trees at once in his video, but not using bone meal and waiting works as well.

[edit] Automatic Tree Farms

Although somewhat complex to build (as opposed to planting saplings and just waiting/bonemealing and then manually chopping them down), these automatic tree farms allow you to harvest wood at a much faster rate by automating the gathering and block breaking portions of tree farming.

[edit] Auto Grow, Manual Harvest designs

Focusing only on the growth portion of the farm, these designs allow you to quickly grow hundreds of trees by pressing down the mouse button and reading a book. A dispenser with bonemeal will automatically force the tree to grow, and a column of pistons will push the trunk into a collection area where it will be stacked in a large block for you to later 'mine'. The more complex designs also include leaf breaking, meaning that you end up with a net positive on the saplings and in the case of oak trees get apples without having to do much of anything.

After a few minutes you then go over to the storage area and mine out all the wood blocks in much the same way as you wood cave-mine; meaning that you do not have to waste time by moving from one tree to the other.

[edit] Automatic Block breaker & Fully automatic (AFK) tree farm designs

Several mobs in the game can break blocks, and most of them have been used for wood farming. An overly complex design featuring creepers was made, but the insane size of it makes constructing it anywhere exceptionally difficult. A different design that uses ghasts is also available and much simpler to make, however when ghasts break blocks they destroy (without dropping) most of them, making tree farming with the ghast extremely inefficient.

With the addition of the Wither into the minecraft game it became possible to auto-break blocks by using the Wither's ability to break any blocks within a 3x3x4 area of it one second after it has been damaged. A very early design (that no longer works) used cobblestone generators to cage in the wither, and fed in wood blocks from the side to be broken. It produced more cobblestone than wood, but it was still a working design. Later on when the Wither became capable of breaking out of such cages a much better alternative was discovered that used the portal from the end back to the overworld (that spawns after you kill the end-dragon) to hold in the wither.

A newer method of caging in the wither has also been found that enables a tree farm to be build anywhere while at the same time using the wither to break the wood blocks. Although potentially more dangerous than encasing the Wither in bedrock (as in the above design), this cage has been found to be completely reliable (1.5+, 1.6+, 13w37b) as long as it is built correctly.