Timber price ranges should be used as a guileline

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

Timber price ranges should be used as a guideline Prices affected by wood quality, tree specs and type of logging operation. There has been a bit of confusion with the internet address for Georgia Farm Bureaus timber, real estate and mortgage web site, but you can reach this site from your Georgia Farm Bureau site (www.gfb.org) by clicking on GFB Services and then Forestry Division, Real Estate Co. or Mortgage Services. If you want to go directly to our site, you can simply type in our web address of www.TheFarmSite.org. You will want to visit our site periodically to review our latest or archived Timber Update articles, or to review our newest land listings for sale.

If you were not aware, we also have Mortgage Services that you should take advantage of in purchasing your next home or just refinancing your current home in order to lower your interest rate and monthly payment. You can reach our mortgage web site through www.TheFarmSite.org or go there directly by typing in www.gfbloans.com.

Now that everyone knows how to access our information via the internet, I want to briefly mention a problem with pricing. It appears that when there is a range of timber prices for your area, everyone wants to get the highest price for their timber. I understand this is human nature, but there are a couple of issues the price tables do not mention. They do not tell you that younger trees and especially first-time-thinning pulpwood and chip-n-saw, are generally lower priced products simply due to the quality of wood. Wood quality has to do with fiber lengths and wood density, as well as number of limbs and knots present, all of which generally improve with age.

Prices are generally lower for thinning operations. This only stands to reason when you consider the extra care and time it takes to identify selective trees to leave and then to protect these trees during the logging process. This takes extra time, fuel, and labor, which translate to more expense for the logger, which eat up funds available to pay the landowner, hence lower prices for thinning.

Another issue to consider when comparing prices, especially for chip-n-saw, or any sawtimber product for that matter, is the specs of the trees delivered to the mill. Top and butt diameters of trees accepted by a mill can have a big effect on the total value of your timber tract. In other words, if you have a lot of smaller wood that will have a 50 top and will be delivered as chip-n-saw under one spec, you might come out better than taking a higher per ton price for your chip-n-saw with specs requiring a 60 top or greater. In other words, you might cut out more volume at the lower specs that offset the higher per ton prices, thereby resulting in more income from your timber as a whole. This can get complicated so you might need some help evaluating the terms and conditions of your sale, since most of the time the specs of the sale are never mentioned in a contract or in the negotiations leading to the sale.

Jim Griffith is general manager of the Georgia Farm Bureau Timber and Real Estate Companies.
Georgia Farm Bureau News August 2005

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