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Accurate records crucial to keeping track of timber harvest

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

With a large percentage of timber purchases, the buyer pays for the timber after the trees have been cut and removed from your property. This type of sale is known by several names: cut-and-haul, pay-as-cut, or per-unit sale The trees are taken to a staging point, a local woodyard or mill, to be weighed and then transported to a mill if not already there. The trucks loaded with your trees drive onto a large set of scales at the staging point to be weighed. Once unloaded, the trucks are again weighed before leaving the yard. The difference is the weight of the trees you sold. Most all trees are sold today by the ton. There is a scale ticket given to the truck driver for each load of wood delivered to the yard. A copy of the same scale ticket is saved until week’s end to be delivered with other loads for the week to the dealer for which the truck was hauling. The woodyard keeps their multiple copies for their own records.

It is these scale tickets that are used to keep up with the amount of trees removed from your property. Good loggers keep an independent record of each load that leaves the woods. A crew member, like the loader-operator, will have a notebook and enter the date, landowner name, truck number, driver, type load (pine pulpwood, pine sawtimber, hardwood pulpwood, hardwood palletwood, etc.), the destination of the truck (the woodyard or mill where the trees are being delivered) and maybe even the time of departure from the woods. This information is then checked against the scale tickets given to the truck drivers as well as the copy of the scale tickets delivered to the timber buyer/dealer directly from the woodyard/mill. This is a good check to make sure your trees get to the appropriate destination.

Having multiple records of your tree’s delivery to the mill makes it much more difficult to loose a load along the way. This way, if someone is deliberately planning to take your wood, there has to be multiple people involved in the process in order to make all the records match. You, as the landowner, still have to be actively engaged in the process to hold everyone involved accountable. You can request copies of the scaled tickets from the mill along with a weekly summary from the dealer and a copy of a load report from the woods. From this report you can match up every load cut from your property with its final destination and then check that the dealer writes your check for the appropriate amount at the end of each week.They should all match.

There may be some times where the truck left the woods late in the day and did not make it to the woodyard until the next day and will thereby be on the following week’s report even though it left the woods the day before. However, it should all match up in the end. Make sure if individual trailer loads of wood are left on the loading site after all the equipment is gone and time passes before they are actually pulled to the mill, that you keep up with when they were pulled, when and where they were delivered and that you actually get paid for the wood. It is not the norm for a logger or timber dealer to deliberately take a load of wood and not pay the landowner. But with the high number of truck loads of trees that most dealers deliver to a woodyard during a week’s time, and the fact that many dealers have several crews cutting on different tracts at the same time, and that they might switch truck drivers and trailers between jobs on different sites, it is possible for some confusion to occur, an honest mistake. It is for those times that you, the landowner, need to be actively involved in the process.

Jim Griffith is general manager of the GFB Timber and Real Estate Companies.

Farm Bureau News – August 2003

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