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Author Topic: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.  (Read 6833 times)

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Offline sflynn

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  Hello all, first let me say this is a great forum, very informitive, and very well run. I have about 200 acres of timber, I have owned it for over 5 years, and I need to make a little money from it this year. I have experiance with chainsaws, but would not call myself experianced when it comes to dropping trees. I know it can be dangerous. Any thoughts about that?
   - Also, I have a big mini excavator, a mid size 4x4 tractor with front loader, and a dump truck and trailer. I am thinking about even delivering my timber to the mill if it will pay better. Or, should I cut my timber, stack it up, and try to get bids from buyers? I am in north central Illinois near Ottawa. There is not a lot of mills or timber companies in my area.
  - Is there any good instructional video's or books on the web that shows safety tactics for dropping a tree?   :P
  -  I am going to start with my walnuts, then my oaks. I also have ash, sycamore, cherry, and a few other spieces.
Most of my oaks are right at 18 inches, so I am going to try to be selective with them, and allow smaller ones than that to grow.
   - Thanks in advance for any advice you may give, Steve

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2010, 10:50:33 am »
Welcome to the forum.
As far as use of the chainsaw, I'd recommend the GOL (Game of Logging) courses. They will give you an all-around leg up on the tree dropping, and doing it efficiently and safely.
Not the best time in this economy to be selling timber. Make a connect with a State or District Forester, or private forester for some on-the-ground advice on selling your wood.
Just be careful with the advice you get, and be sure there is some bidding happening before you cut any trees. Don't drop trees and look for a buyer of the wood.
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Offline Skiddah

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2010, 11:45:00 am »
In Maine we have a group called the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM).  If there's anything like that in Illinois, that would be a good place to start.  Peer to peer places like this on the internet are good places to get some good ideas, but professional help on the ground at your disposal is priceless.  Game of Logging courses are excellent, especially for someone who is unsure of directional felling, efficient limbing and bucking, etc.  Cooperative Extention often has resources that you might find valuable.
Your number one goal should be safety, even over profit on your woodlot.  Get yourself a nice set of personal protective equipment: Helmet with faceshield and ear muffs, chaps, steel toed boots (built in kevlar is even better), gloves, safety glasses, and a first aid kit.
I wouldn't really start rushing into things until you're sure about the timber market in your area.  It would be a shame to dump a bunch of nice wood to the ground and not be able to put it to market.  A forrester would be your best bet in this area.

Offline treefarmer87

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2010, 02:13:17 pm »
you have all the right equipment to haul it yourself. but if you get a good bid go for it.
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2010, 03:35:19 pm »
I didn't catch your location, but, get a forester to mark and bid your timber out, you  will make more and survive the experience.  Logging is not for a novice, it kills pro's.

Check the foresters references, and be cautious of some one showing up and calling themselves foresters, timber consultants, loggers, etc, they can be nothing more than a timber pimp who will turn around and highgrade the stand, while taking more of the profit than is fitting.

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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2010, 05:55:13 pm »
Lots to grading your logs too.You can cut 2 feet of from a log and make $100 more.Probaly you don't know what I really mean by that and that is where you can lose alot of money.There is alot to making money,losing money and doing it safe too.Could you hold off on this for a year or two so you can learn more about what you are about to do? It would be worth it to you and your wood lot. You should have a logging winch or ach. Most lumber yards want the logs as quick as possible when the trees are cut down. I use to cut for myself.I had to devote a certain amount of time to cut wood,I mean like all I would do for 3 weeks on my days off is cut wood. Can kinda take the fun out of it.You say you have a mid size tractor.It might do OK on your land,if your land is flat and not hilly or rocky.I have a 40hp tractor and that is staple with what I twitch out behind me.Now trying to twitch out too much can get scary.Not worth it,take less or I winch over the hard spots.You also pay differant taxes on your wood money too.Get an accountant,it's worth it.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2010, 07:02:36 pm »
Ditto! to what Texas Ranger said. With 200 acres of timber you really need to consult with a professional certified forester and prepare a management plan to meet your objectives in a safe and sustainable manner to maximize your timber values. 
~Ron

Offline hollywoodmfg

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2010, 07:39:48 pm »
 thecfarm said alot! knowing where to cut a log can make ya a lot more. Also if ya dont know what you are doing cutting a tree down ,even if ya dont hert your self you can easly hert the value of the tree. Not something to learn the hard way. Good luck

Offline sflynn

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2010, 08:24:28 pm »
   Thank's guy's, this is a lot of good advice. I had a forester come check out my property. My land had been logged about thirty years ago, and he said in another 15 years my trees will be very valuable. Right now he feels I have about $12k, perhaps a little more worth of harvestable timber. But his fee was $50 per acre, only leaving me a few grand proffit. I know it would be a good investment for the future health of my property. But I also think I can educate myself and take care of my woods.
  - So, do you all think I should just get bids from a couple of logging companies, even though I would make a little less than cutting it myself?  Thank's Steve

Offline missouri_logger

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2010, 10:11:16 pm »
i think you should get some bids from other loggers and maybe make more and survive man anything can happen it may suprise you what they bid its worth your time

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2010, 10:38:02 pm »
I think you should listen to previous advise from those that know what you/they are talking about. Why waste your time asking if you don't listen to it.  The forester will maximize your profits, you, will minimize them or worse. You are not going to educate yourself to out perform the forester unless you let those trees grow for 15 more years, and while they do, go to college and become a forester, then spend a few years in the field putting real experience to what you learned in school.  You can fulfill your statement of "I can educate myself and take care of my woods" simply by the short easy education of hiring somebody that already knows what they are doing.

If your transmission goes out, will you educate yourself on how to rebuild it to or go to a mechanic?  If you have an impacted wisdom tooth, will you educate yourself on how to perform oral surgery or seek out an oral surgeon or at least a Dentist?

Maybe I sound blunt, but hey, you came here and asked a question from the people that know the answers. I guess you can always have somebody come in and clear cut it to pay for the hospital or funeral bills if you fail on the safety end. Which you have a very real chance of doing since its one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
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Offline sflynn

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2010, 12:30:53 am »
   Jeff, no I dont have a problem with someone being blunt. I think I didn't make myself clear enough. I only intend on taking the trees he recommended, and let the rest grow the 15 years they need. But in regards to paying someone $10 grand to make my forest healthier, I think I can learn what to do. And considering the fact that no one has giving any attention to my woods for over thirty years, and that was when it was logged, I dont think it will harm them to wait another year or two for me to learn.
   The reason I came to this forum is to get other experianced individuals input. It would be foolish to just take the advice from the first guy that came to look at my woods. In fact, your analagy of having surgery is a good one. We are encouraged to get a second, and even a third opinion if we are unsure of the first opinion we got.
  Thanks again for the advice.

Offline bill m

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2010, 08:01:10 am »
I would check with other foresters to see how they charge. Ten grand for 200 acres sounds a little expensive to me. The foresters I work with will check property lines, mark the timber, send out bid packages, write the contract, check the job weekly or as often as needed, get you the best money he can for your timber and see that the future of your forest will provide you with income for many years. All for about 15 to 20 % of the sale.
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2010, 10:21:52 am »
Some thing wrong with the numbers, you quote $12,000 for the timber on 200 acres, or, $60 an acre harvest.  No logger will come in for that little volume.  Around here, that would be one single  tree for that value, less than 500 bd ft per acre.
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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2010, 10:32:37 am »
You might also make a note that there are Timber pimps out there that will hang the Forester title upon himself. 

Quote
It would be foolish to just take the advice from the first guy that came to look at my woods.

You should be okay using that as a guide.
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Offline Skiddah

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2010, 04:57:36 pm »
Something is definitely wrong with the numbers and it should give you reason to pause, if not come to a halt on this harvesting idea.  Let's assume for the sake of conversation that the $12,000 of marketable timber is accurate.  Are you really going to go to the trouble of setting up yards, skid trails, harvesting, trucking, etc. for only $12,000 on 200 acres?!?  You could esstentially loose all the profit by simply setting up a haul road and a yard, basically spending more setting up than you'll make.  I'm a production man myself, and while I don't purport to be the best logger out there, I'm certainly not the worst.  $12,000 on 200 acres? I'm taking a pass on it if it were offered to me, and these would be my reasons.  If it were logged 30 years ago, skid trails are and yards are overgrown.  This isn't necessarily a deal breaker.  I might have an idea of where I'd want them to go, but I might need to reconstruct the yard so trucks can load there.  Haul roads are certainly overgrown.  Culverts on them may have washed out and in some areas the road may have never been built correctly in the first place, etc.  I know you have a mini excavator and a dump truck, but without ready access to your own gravel, it'll get expensive quickly tuning up a road to meet the standards to safely and effectively haul off it.  Then you get the break down issues.  I account for them when I look into bidding, do you?  Parts start breaking on your dump truck, trailer, excavator, or tractor, you start cutting into that meager $12,000 you intend to sell in a hurry.  If you're trucking the wood yourself, you need to account for fuel, and they're not giving diesel away these days, or gasoline for that matter.  If you're thinking of hiring out the trucking, they're going to want to get paid per ton, mbf, or whatever the case may be.
I'm not trying to be discouraging or poke fun here, but in my opinion this is a lot of hassle to go through in order to make a little amount of money.  I understand these are trying times, but if you can ride it out to when your trees become more valuable in 15 years, it's worth it.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2010, 05:31:41 pm »
I can see where there may only be $12K of wood on a property that was cut real heavy 30 years ago.  The forest hasn't had time to recover.  But, I also notice that the phrase harvestable timber was put in there.  What constitutes harvestable timber?  Is this just the trees that should come out for thinning purposes or is that all you have on the whole property?

If this is my property, this is what I would be looking for.  First things first is you need a timber inventory and a management plan.  That means that you get a tree count and what you have there by species and size class.  This would be done by sampling and doesn't involve counting every tree.  I would be looking at a minimum of a 5% sample, which is 1 prism plot for every 2 acres.  I would also expect a map which would show the different compartments.

If the management plan only talks about timber harvests, then its not a management plan, its a harvesting plan.  Different animals, but some guys think all management plans involve commercial harvests.  Your goal should be in getting your forest to have crop trees.  These are the ones that are your savings accounts.  You let them grow, especially into veneer quality trees.  That means there will be periodic harvests, both commercial and non-commercial, where you open up the canopy to allow those crop trees' crowns to expand.  Without crown expansion, you get no growth.

Diameters play a large part in value, especially in hardwoods.  The larger the diameter, usually the better the quality and the more volume of quality lumber to be produced.  A small tree produces low quality wood for the most part.  A big tree has much higher value, and will outstrip inflation by a good bit.  Crop trees in my area would be from 18-26" in diameter at breast height (4.5' above the ground).  Cutting them any smaller is like a farmer sending his best milkers off to slaughter. 

There is a stocking level that you should be aiming to maintain.  Its called the basal area, and its measured in the number of sq ft of basal area/acre.  There is an upper limit, as that will cause growth to stagnate.  There is also a lower limit, as that can cause degrade in the residual stand.  You want to stay in between those two level. 

As trees grow, that basal area will increase.  That is why you need periodic thinnings.  You need not worry about regeneration until you are getting close to a final harvest.  This may be in patches or it may include the whole stand.  A lot depends on your management perspectives.  It doesn't sound like you are at that level yet.

You may be at the point where you can get rid of some of the smaller, poorer quality trees.  You could do that by cutting firewood.  But, your crop trees should be allowed to grow and should be protected from residual damage.  A logging job of such low volume may cause more harm than good.

If you're not willing to start at point one, then you're going to be at the tender mercies of the people you allow on your land.  Forest management is more about what is left in the forest than what is taken.  Your forester should be on the same page.  Don't give anyone an empty book and tell them to fill in the pages.  They will always go to filling their pockets and that may be detrimental to your forest.  They move on, you have to live with it. 
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Offline Clark

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2010, 05:59:42 pm »
My advice: Listen to Ron!!!

I can understand the predicament you're in:  you need money and someone is willing to pay money for trees you already own.  When it comes to trees mistakes take a long time to recover from.  Going in and cutting all your walnut right now may pay decent at the moment but they could also be worth substantially more in 15 years if you thin around them and take some of the poorer quality ones.

All that to say that time is on your side if you can resist cutting trees before you have a plan in place.  Once you have a plan in place and you can follow it, then time is your friend and between it and the trees you'll be making money for nothing.

Clark

Offline northwoods1

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2010, 06:33:09 pm »
I agree with what most everyone else has pointed out. I think it might be possible for you to harvest your own timber and even truck it to the mill, but as with most any endeavor there is a learning curve in which you learn from your mistakes and gain more knowledge as you go along about the who, what, where, when, and hows of managing and harvesting your own timberland. You really need to think things out carefully and do the math before you walk up to one of your walnut trees with a chainsaw :o! It takes a long time to replace them. I would also add that even though I say it might be possible for you to harvest your own wood and market it the chances that you will be able to harvest it and merchandise it correctly for at least going rates, and make more money than if you were to have someone else do it, are very slim. You might be better off having a forester come in and set up a management plan or help you do it. The prices you stated are out of line. Then find a dependable small time operator that can come in and do a small harvest and watch/learn the ropes of how they go about cutting it and merchandising it, and how/where it is marketed. It does take years do be able to know how to cut high grade logs this is not something you should do when your trying to learn, also takes years to know the ups downs of the market and how/ when to cut and sell valuable wood. Like one other person mentioned you can have a log and cut 2' from it and make it more valuable. Do you understand all the different log grades and what it is exactly the sawmills want/need and are willing to pay top dollar for? This is a situation in which a very conservative approach is probably the smartest.

Offline timberjackrob

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Re: Going to harvest some of my timber, any advice will be appreciated.
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2010, 06:52:33 pm »
well heres my 2cents if u are really interested in cutting your own timber try to find you a timber cutter to teach you a few things its not rocket science but it does require some skill to do it safely and in a way as not to damage the wood.i am not goinng to discouarge you as we have all had to learn how to cut a tree . idont know where ur located but if your land is very steep a tractor is not going to be much use and to use it at all it should probably have a winch.however if your land is more flat a tractor and winch would probably work.it sounds like your trees are not very large which is a plus for a beginner as they are easier to cut and skid .as far as the forester think in ky the state forestry service works with landowners some services are free some such as tree marking probably cost a fee but im not sure how much it is around here prices on good grade logs have been dropping as the mills are full but pallet logs are holding their own iwould start with the low grade stuff to see how it goes .i guess what im trying to say is dont practice on the walnut start with the sycamore.
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