Thinning Timber Can Earn $350 Per Acre and Increases Annual Harvests by 25%

That’s a tough pill to swallow for one that doesn’t understand the dynamics of thinning planted pine. This thinning timber stands is an actual case I recently looked at in Georgia. The planted pine had never been thinned, so we are talking about a first time thinning.

There were 450 trees per acre (tpa) which is fairly normal for a first time thinning. A typical Georgia planting will be a 6×10 spacing yielding 726 seedlings per acre. And normal mortality will result in about 450 trees per acre by the time the stand is ready to be thinned. This is another fact that landowners generally do not realize since 450 tpa give a deceptive impression to the layman that not a single tree has died since the day they were planted.

In thinning this stand of planted pine, 250 tpa are removed during the harvest, leaving 200 residual trees that will become future high-value crop trees. This assumes a fourth row thinning, which means every 4th row is to be completely removed, taking 100% of the trees in that row, giving room to cut take-out trees in the remaining rows and a lane to skid the cut trees to a loading ramp. So the fourth row is thinned unselectively and the remaining three rows between are thinned by selecting the weaker, slower growing, diseased, and deformed trees to be removed. The 200 best trees (65-70 square feet of Basal Area) are selected for their future higher-value-solid-wood-products potential to remain growing on the property.

The stand is growing at 3.3 tons per acre per year (1.25 cords/acre volume growth potential). The product ratio within the stand is 2/3 pulpwood trees and 1/3 chip-n-saw. Assuming $7 per ton for pulpwood and $15 for chip-n-saw, the annual value growth for the existing 450 trees per acre is $31.86/acre/year.

Now assume the dirt has the same potential for growing the remaining 200 trees per acre following the thinning. Also assume we have a new product ratio of 37.5% pulpwood and 62.5% chip-n-saw. This new growth on the remaining higher value wood will yield $39.58/acre/year.

Consider the current dollar growth on this stand compared to the potential of the new growth and you get an increase in annual value of 24.2% or nearly 25 percent. So there you have it; this landowner could thin his trees, collect better than $350 per acre now and enjoy an increase in annual value growth by nearly 25%. This should be a no-brainer timber management decision to thin.

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    1. l have 47 ac with 37ac in pine trees that r about 6yrs of age. very thick in plantimg is there s company tjst will thin them tkd. oh. ithe property is in cropwell al

  1. I have about 20 acres of pine that need to be thinned in S. W. Arkansas. They were planted in 1998, the land was not ripped and they have not been fertilized. A local company has offered $10.50 per ton to thin this plantation for me it that reasonable?

  2. I have a 55 acre stand of timber that is 24 years old it was thinned every forth row several years ago eight or nine years.At this the timber was cut every fourth row, The year in now 2018.When do I need to cut the trees again. If I let it grow how mush dollar amount in one year. My nephew says it will grow 5% per year, Is that a correct figure . How much dollar amount will that grow per acher in one year Do I need to let it grow more or think about cutting it now. I would appreciate your commit and help me in the right way to go. I thought about selling the land was offered two thousand per acher don’t know where that’s good price or not,