To Sell or Not to Sell

Conservation Department foresters receive many questions from landowners. The most common questions are about selling timber, including:

  • Are my trees ready to sell?
  • How much are they worth?
  • Can you recommend a good logger?
  • How do I make sure my land isn’t messed up in the process?
  • What do I do after the sale?

Here are a few questions to answer when you are considering selling your timber.

Consideration #1: Why do you want to sell your trees?

Often, people consider selling their timber for financial reasons. While this may be one good reason to begin looking at a timber sale, there are many natural signs that indicate the need for a timber sale. These signs may include:

  • Scrawny trees with small canopies competing for sunshine and survival.
  • A certain species of tree may be dying in mass quantities, hinting at disease or pest issues, which are usually made worse by overcrowding.
  • A natural disaster has destroyed portions of the woods, leaving trees on the ground that can be sold.
  • One kind of tree is aggressively taking over the woods, creating undesirable wildlife habitat.

Any of these reasons could indicate that your woods would benefit from a targeted thinning.

Consideration #2: Are your trees sellable?

Depending on local markets, many loggers will not be able to sell trees smaller than 12 inches in diameter. Timber buyers prefer trees much bigger. If your trees are smaller than this, then you should consider removing them yourself, marking them for a firewood cutter or paying a contractor to cut them as part of a timber stand improvement. Another thing to consider is the size of the area needing to be harvested. Sales less than 20 acres may be difficult because of having a lack of volume to harvest. Loggers have fixed costs involved with getting their equipment to a property, so if only a small acreage of timber is up for sale, or it is very far away from a buyer, it may not be sellable or may only be sellable at a very low price.

Possibly one of the most frustrating things to consider when thinking of selling timber is access to the trees. Unfortunately, situations arise where large quantities of excellent timber simply can’t be harvested because to do so would show complete disregard for the land, equipment and safety of the loggers.

Consideration #3: How do you