Posted by Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616
A select cut timber sale entails selecting some trees to cut and remove from a site while selecting other trees to leave growing on the property, in an effort to meet the objectives of ownership.
Select the wrong trees to cut and remove, which is the same as selecting the wrong trees to leave growing on the property, and the objectives of the landowner fall short of attainment. First time thinning of planted pine today is done by operator select for the most part. This means the operator of the cut-down machine picks and chooses/selects the trees that are cut and removed (and those left growing on the land). A forester generally keeps a close watch on the harvesting operation to make sure the right number and the best trees are being left undisturbed and growing on the property as future crop-trees.
I have not been able to find any research (I cannot imagine there is not some out there somewhere) that compares the crop-trees left growing on the property from an operator-select type cut versus a harvest where a registered forester actually marked the trees to be removed/or left growing. There are differences in opinions between foresters as to the best selection means of choosing those trees to be removed during a harvesting operation. I personally think, considering the cost to have a professional forester mark the timber on a first-time thinning, that the landowner can get a good a job selecting future crop-trees from a skilled cut-down operator, as they can paying the extra money to have the trees marked.
I do want to clarify that my comment about operator-select cutting has its assumptions; which include an experienced thinning logger and close supervision of a professional forester checking the number and quality of trees being left on site. I also think the difficulty of choosing leave trees increases as the quality of the stand decreases. By decreasing stand quality, I mean a stand with a larger percentage of diseased, deformed, and trees poor in growing health. Outside the presence of a qualified logger, a forester to oversee the operation, and a healthy stand of trees, paying the extra $25 to $40 per acre to have a timber professional mark your timber will pay you back time and again.
When you see a thinned timber stand now, you may be wondering if it was created by operator selection or by a forester marking trees of choice. Either way, it is a reputable timber company that should help determine if you need to incur the extra expense of actually marking the selected trees or just some extra time of his-presence on the site making sure the cut-down operator is geared in to future stand perfection.
Therefore, if you need to mark a select cut timber sale it can cost you, but not really…since in the long run it will pay for itself and make you money!