Forestry Basics

The following three lessons will help you generally understand the "architecture" of the forest, how to measure a tree like a forester, and finally how to estimate the value of what is in your woodlot.  Please keep in mind that this brief introduction will not make you an expert. 

PLEASE consult a forestry professional before making any commitment to harvest.  

After the trees are felled, log grading occus

For grading a log, you first mark the log into four equal sections known as faces.  With the log marked, you now pick the second worse face of the log. You will grade the whole log just from the second worst face or third best face. In the example picture below, you will see a log that has been marked into four equal faces and it is shown like this so you can see all four faces of the log. Usually the log is rolled over to see the other faces, they are not cut off.

This will help in learning to estimate the value of your woodlot using Stumpage which is the most common term landowners will hear when speaking of selling timber.

To estimate the value of the trees in your woodlot, woodlands owners need to be able to assign a value to each tree while it is growing in their woodlot. This value is referred to as “stumpage value” and by definition it is the value of the products (firewood, pulpwood, and/or lumber) that can be obtained from each tree at a processing plant or sawmill minus the cost of harvesting, transportation to the mill and conversion to an end product such as lumber. In addition, each contractor can be expected to include a reasonable profit in operating their business. At first glance this seems as though it would be a difficult undertaking, as most woodland owners may only harvest once in their lifetime and are not in the business of tracking mill prices and harvest costs. An easier approach is to obtain stumpage prices for other timber sales that have been reported for you area. Before we discuss how to obtain these estimates for stumpage prices, a short discussion of the factors that affect these prices would be in order:

How do I obtain stumpage values?
As we have mentioned, timber stumpage prices vary by state and price regions within a state. First determine which areas are closest to your woodlot. Realize, that neighboring states that are also close to your woodlot are a good resource as well. The following contacts are listed for West Virginia,  Pennsylvania and Ohio:

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