Stretchable isn't a quality naturally associated with wood. But because of improved forest management and more efficient sawmill practices, wood can go further today in building homes that it could a century ago.
Georgia-Pacific, one of America's leading timber products companies, says the wood needed to build a 3,500-square-foot home and produce a 30-year supply of paper and tissue products for the average family today could only have built a 320-square-foot pioneer cabin in the old days.
The timber company says in a new brochure that genetic improvement of trees is simply making use of agriculture's familiar road to hybrid strains of corn and wheat. These have ''dramatically'' increased corn and wheat yields on each acre of farmland.
''Such improvement comes more slowly with trees, however,'' the company states, '' because the long growing cycle means the results of each generation are not seen for many years.''
Georgia-Pacific turned to ownership of forest lands early in the 1950s. At the same time it began its program of forest improvement, which, ''while far from complete,'' has led to a 10 percent increase in yield in the first generation of supertrees grown in the program.
Company foresters are also looking ahead to an improvement of around 25 percent in yield from the second generation of such trees. ''Some research authorities,'' the company said, ''say they foresee eventual increases of 50 percent'' in yields.