Selling Yard Trees

trees in suburban neighborhood

We get many calls from customers inquiring about selling trees in their yard. Sometimes these customers have Ash trees that are dying from the Emerald Ash Borer and would like them removed.

Other times these customers have Walnut trees and have heard that they can be quite valuable. When faced with these sorts of calls, the short answer to whether or not logging companies such as Timber Works buy yard-trees (sometimes called Urban trees) is no.

There are a number of reasons timber buyers steer clear of yard trees that pertain to both the quantity of trees available in an urban setting as well as their quality.

Urban Trees Often Contain Foreign Objects

Trees that grow in an urban setting are often riddled with foreign objects, especially metal such as nails, screws and bolts. The presence of metal causes the surrounding fiber of the tree to be stained dark blue or black. More significantly, the metal poses a potentially costly threat to the sawmill that will be cutting the tree into dimensional lumber and other wood products such as flooring or hardwood slabs.

Though it happens occasionally even with trees that have been harvested from the forest, the presence of metal occurs much more frequently in trees that have been taken from an Urban setting. When a sawmill hits a metal object, the blade on the saw will at the very least have teeth sheared off, rendering this particular blade ineffective at cutting and delaying the mills production cycle because the sawing will have to stop until a fresh blade has been installed. The sheared blade will have to be re-tipped by a professional, adding cost and taking the blade out of production for an extended period of time.

In the most severe instance, the metal object will destroy the blade completely, potentially costing the mill hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In fact, the value of a typical sawmill blade will far exceed the value of nearly any tree that sawmill would cut.

If the mill is observant and lucky, they will notice the tell-tale stain caused by metal objects before any damage occurs. Still, removing the metal will take time and reduce the productivity of the mill significantly. The bottom line is that logs containing metal cost sawmills time and money, and for this reason log buyers work diligently to avoid them.

Urban Trees are of Low Quality

The other problem with yard trees is that they are often of low quality.

When a tree grows under a dense canopy, it must reach for light, focusing growth upward rather than outward. Trees that grow in a neighborhood or in a yard spread out much more than a similar tree that grows in a woods. As a result, they put on branches lower down the trunk, meaning a much smaller percentage of these trees will cut into “grade lumber,” or lumber that contains limited or no knots or defects in the finished boards.

Further, urban trees grow much faster than trees in a thickly wooded area. This results in lumber that is less dense, more porous, and in general of lower quality than a tree whose rate of growth was slower.

Removing Urban Trees is Costly for a Logging Company

Logging companies rarely have the specialized equipment, not to mention proper insurances, to remove trees from an Urban setting. But even if they did, the cost associated with hauling equipment to a location and removing the bulk of an entire tree including its top is usually far greater than the value of the tree.

Our company has made exceptions to the standard rule of thumb regarding urban timber, but we always require a number of harvestable trees to be present that exceeds what most yards contain. If you own a smaller, wooded housing lot and would like to see about selling some of your trees, we will certainly consider your unique situation—give Timber Works a call for a one-on-one chat about your urban trees.

While exceptions are made to this rule, most urban trees have little or no value as lumber.

Stumpage Bids vs Cutting on the Shares

hardwood logs lined up in field

There are two main ways timber tends to be purchased from landowners by logging companies—through a bid “on the stump” or by “cutting on the shares.” While there are pros and cons to both arrangements, it is important to understand the differences between them in order to make an informed decision about harvesting your standing timber.

Buying on the Stump

Buying timber on the stump is when a logging company offers a timber owner a certain price for the right to harvest and remove timber from their property. This price varies greatly depending on the species and quality of the timber, as discussed thoroughly in this blog post, and can pertain to either a specific number of trees or to all merchantable timber, essentially meaning anything in the woods with a commercial value greater than the cost of logging and hauling the forest products away.

In the case of Timber Works, our logging contracts always state that we are purchasing only those trees marked, numbered and agreed upon by both parties.

This point may seem unimportant, but many times landowners who sign contracts selling “all merchantable timber” are unhappy with the condition their woodland is left in. Numbering and agreeing on the trees prior to logging is a great way to avoid confusion and keep a timber harvest from becoming a regrettable experience.

Though the price paid on the stump varies, it is important to keep in mind that this price is always much lower than the value of the logs once they have been harvested and removed from a woods. This is essential as the logging company must be able to make money in order to remain in business, but may not be the best arrangement for the landowner.

Stumpage bids rarely pay landowners much additional money for veneer trees, and the bids utilize market prices which allow the logging company to sell the timber for at least twice what it was purchased for once it is removed from a woods and hauled to various hardwood product companies throughout the region.

Not being paid top dollar for your veneer trees may seem unfair, but there is a justification for it—as our blogs on the subject have revealed, it is very difficult to ascertain the value of a veneer tree, or any tree for that matter, until it is cut down. In other words, it is really impossible to accurately value a veneer log until you get to see the stump. A logging company would be served a significant financial blow if they paid top dollar for what were believed to be veneer quality trees, only to find they cut down with stain and rot in the trunk. For this reason, standing timber is typically bought with fairly conservative prices

While the landowner is up front in this arrangement, the amount of money they receive can be considerable less than the amount earned by cutting on shares. In a way, cutting on the shares allows the logging company and the land owner to share the risk, and the possible reward, that the trees will cut down cleanly and sell for a high price. For this reason, unless a customer insists on a bid price, Timber Works strongly encourages shared cutting.

Cutting Timber On Shares

When a land owner agrees to cut their timber on the shares, they are essentially agreeing to allow the logger to cut, remove and market the timber. Once a sale has taken place, the land owner is paid 50% of the gross value of the timber.

In cases where the timber is of high quality or contains a significant percentage of veneer trees, this arrangement usually results in much larger earnings to the land owner, and insulates the logging company from the possibility of overpaying for low quality trees.

Through aggressively building very niche markets for the timber we harvest—selling certain species to one company, other species to another and ultimately marketing the timber to its highest value use, Timber Works is able to yield impressive averages for the timber we harvest. If you agree to cut your timber on the shares with our company, you too can benefit from this sophisticated market.

Give us a call today for a no-hassle assessment of your standing timber.

What Makes a Tree Veneer Quality

tall straight veneer quality tree

While certain trees are incredibly valuable, the range of prices associated with timber and logs of differing grades varies tremendously.

The reason for this range of values associated even with trees of a single species is multifaceted. The quality, and therefore the value of a tree depends greatly on a number of factors, most of which are essentially predetermined by the trees growing conditions.

Veneer Growing Conditions

Did the tree in question grow in a lush woods or in someone’s back yard?

Trees that grow in the middle of a mature, full-canopied woods are forced to grow tall, reaching for sunlight and producing long sections of lower trunk that are free from limbs and other defects. These trees accumulate very little in terms of diameter growth during the first 40 or 50% of their lifespan because they are so desperately trying to reach the top of the canopy, where their upper branches can have full access to the sun’s energy.

Even when a tree grows in the perfect conditions to produce high quality timber, there are still a number of factors, both visible and invisible, that will impact the trees ultimate value.
Unfortunately, there is no substitute for growing location in raising the value of timber. In addition to preventing low growing limbs and producing tall, straight trunks, growing within a dense canopy will cause a young tree to grow much slower than one planted in the full sunlight of your backyard.

The slow pace at which these trees mature will produce growth rings that are far closer together than would otherwise be the case. Furthermore, the finished wood and lumber products that are produced from such high quality trees will be denser and of higher quality.

Even when a tree grows in the perfect conditions to produce high quality timber, there are still a number of factors, both visible and invisible, that will impact the trees ultimate value. The very genetics of a tree may prevent it from becoming veneer or even prime quality regardless of it’s growing conditions. In a nutshell, veneer quality trees are rare, and the best, most-mature timber stands will never produce a majority of veneer quality trees.

Veneer Trees in a Nutshell

veneer quality walnut tree

1. Veneer trees are very straight and tall, without crooks, bends or bows of any significance. Veneer trees are solid with a high degree of material integrity and cannot contain rot in any area.

2. Veneer trees don’t have any limbs or places where limbs that once existed fell off and scarred over for at least 8 feet from the ground, preferably 10 feet. In general the trunk must be solid and blemish free. While some trees may be sold as 3-sided veneer (small knots or limbs on only one side of the trunk), they will of course demand lower prices than trees that are 4-sides clear.

3. Veneer trees must maintain a minimum number of growth rings per inch. The requirements for veneer are higher than that of lower value timber and typically buyers look for as many as 10-14 rings per inch, indicating well below 1 inch growth per decade.

4. Veneer trees cannot have stains of any kind. This is an especially elusive criterion because it is impossible to tell whether or not the base of a log will be stained until the tree is cut down. Stains in the base of a log can be caused by non-ideal soil conditions and high concentrations of certain minerals. This is natural and unfortunately completely unavoidable.

Another common cause of stains or hidden deterioration in the log is livestock grazing. Even if cattle have not grazed within a stand of timber for many, many decades, the effects of their presence may still be noticed when you begin harvesting your trees. The presence of livestock can severely degrade the value of timber within a woods and should be avoided in cases where commercial timber value is a goal. In short, if your woods has been grazed by cattle or any livestock in the past, it has likely eliminated the possibility very much of your timber will veneer.

Get an Expert Opinion

For a free, expert analysis of your standing timber including assessing the potential for veneer quality trees within the stand, contact Timber Works today.

Estimating Standing Timber Value

north american hardwood forest in summer

This is part two of a two part blog series: Estimating Volume and Value of Standing Timber

Estimating the value of a tree while it’s still standing is a challenging task. While figuring out how much volume the tree contains is fairly straight forward (and explained in this linked blog article), determining its value is much more precarious.

Not every tree is created equal. Some are straight and limbless for long spans while others are crooked and have many limbs in the first 8 feet. There are even possible defects such as hollow centers or mineral stain that are often impossible to detect while a given tree is still standing. For this reason, within a given species, there is potentially a very wide range of values.

First Estimate the Volume

board footage you harvest is the single most important factor in estimating the value of your standing timber
The easiest step of this process, and one of the most important factors to be considered when assessing the value of a stand of timber, is estimating the volume of the individual trees. Estimating tree value is explained fully in this blog article. If you don’t feel like reading the article, you can count on mature trees (20+ inches in diameter at chest height) to contain on average between 250 and 500 board feet each, depending on their height. Roughly speaking, a mature tree is big enough that you can’t, or almost can’t, wrap your arms around it (NFL wide receivers aside). If your woods has a lot of these trees, it is probably ready for harvest.

Since timber is sold by the board foot (a volume measurement equal to 144 cubic inches), the board footage you harvest is the single most important factor in estimating the value of your standing timber. The more volume you have that is mature and ready for harvest, the higher the sale price will be.

The Species’ in Your Woods

After the volume of a particular tree, the second most significant factor in the value of a timber stand is species composition. Is that tree Black Walnut? White Oak? Red Oak? While prices change over time due to market trends, the highest value timber in the Ohio, Indiana and Northern Appalachian region is consistently Black Walnut, followed by White Oak. Other valuable species’ include Hard Maple, Hickory, Tulip Poplar, Oak species included in the white/ red families such as Black Oak and Chinkapin Oak, as well as other regional hardwoods. In general hardwoods tend to be more valuable than softwoods though this is not because they are necessarily actually more dense.

The species composition of your woods is going to depend mostly on where in the world you are. Tree varieties tend to grow along latitudinal lines. The good news is that the our region produces some of the best hardwood timber in the world—if you have a mature woods in this part of the country, it certainly has some real value.

Common Regional Hardwood Timber Gallery

If you need some help deciphering the species of the trees in your woods, take a look at the gallery below. Each thumbnail opens an infographic explaining the most common hardwood species’ found in the Ohio, Indiana and Northern Appalachian regions including their bark, foliage, typical form and other distinguishing characteristics. You may also consider investing in a paperback field guide, readily available for under $10 at your local bookstore.

  • white oak foliage, bark and typical form
  • black walnut info graphic
  • red oak info graphic
  • hickory info graphic
  • hard maple info graphic
  • tulip poplar info graphic
From left to right: White Oak, Black Walnut, Red Oak, Hickory (inc. Shagbark and Shalebark), Hard Maple (inc. Sugar and Black) and Tulip Poplar.

Let’s Talk Timber Prices

Now that you’ve compiled a list of the trees you think are ready to harvest and determined approximate board footage on each species, you’re ready to get the calculator out. This is where the process gets a bit complicated. Trees of different grades command widely varying prices. In assessing the grade of a standing tree, a forester must consider both visible and possible invisible defects—some trees that look beautiful while standing are hollow inside; others have mineral stain due to soil composition factors or past livestock grazing. These deficits, indiscernible while the tree stands, will negatively impact the value of your timber and are often difficult to discern.

However, you can get a good idea of the range of possible values for your standing timber. For this, we turn to The Ohio State University’s Stumpage Price Report. This annual publications lists, by regions of the state, the mean, median and range of prices for various grades of the most commonly sold hardwood tree species’ in our state. Similar documents are produced by most state university agricultural departments and/or by the department of natural resources in your region.

When You look at this sheet you’ll notice grades along the left column. For each species prices are listed for prime logs, number 1 common, number 2 common, blocking with an average for all the different grades combined at the bottom of each section. What you need to know is that these grades correlate with the quality of the lumber that can be cut from a tree, and therefore the value of said lumber.

Prime grade logs will produce mostly FAS lumber (the highest grade) that is well suited for furniture and cabinets. Truly exceptional logs may even be used for veneer. By contrast number 2 common logs are destined to become railroad ties and pallets. This drastic difference in possible uses explains why some logs are worth so much while others would be better used for firewood than lumber.

If you’re woods has been responsibly timbered in the past, and some time has passed since it was last harvested, you likely have a high number of harvestable timber.
The main factor assigning the different grades is the number and size lower limbs on the standing tree. In other words, the longer up the trunk a particular tree stretches without limbs or locations where limbs once anchored, the higher its grade will be. A tree without limbs for the first 16 feet will likely produce two 8 foot prime logs. Further up the tree will be number 1 and number 2 common. You see, each tree will produce several different grades of logs, the quality of which declines proportionately up the trunk toward the canopy.

If you’re woods has been responsibly timbered in the past, and some time has passed since it was last harvested, you likely have a high number of harvestable timber. Still, no timber harvest will contain only prime logs, so for estimation purposes you will likely get a more accurate estimate with average numbers verses the high end values. Using the mean figure for number 1 common logs or the low number from the prime range tells you the approximate value of your standing timber. Another strategy is simply to take the mean number for the “All Grades” entry of the table—the larger your woods the more likely this number is to be accurate. Both options will be used in examples below.

Timber Valuation Example

The numbers in the timber pricing report are per 1,000 board feet. For each species divide the number of board feet you’ve estimated by 1,000 and multiply this by the appropriate price from our report.

Let’s say you estimate the volume of your stand of mature White Oak to equal 10,000 board feet. One estimate of its value can be found by multiplying the mean reported for no. 1 common White Oak (425 for Spring of 2012 and 482 in the Fall) by 10 (10,000 board feet divided by 1,000). So you’re White Oak is likely worth about $4,250. Using the second strategy from the paragraph above you would multiply 10 by the “All Grades” mean value of 567, equaling $5,670. Repeat this process for each species you have tallied and you should have a ball park estimate of what your timber is worth.

As you can see, coming up with an exact dollar amount for a tree is difficult. Though part of the proper stewardship of a forest involves continual assessment of the health and maturity of the trees, for non-professionals with large stands of timber the task can be daunting.

Ask the Experts

Timber Works explains every step of both the assessment and the logging processes along the way. We make timber harvesting recommendations that consider the unique characteristics of your woods, and address the input and concerns from you, the land owner, above all others. We never pressure customers to sign contracts prematurely and we never include ambiguous language about the scope and details of a harvest in the agreements we do make. Timber Works works diligently to ensure your questions and concerns are addressed fully and honestly.

Call or email us today for a hassle free assessment of your standing timber! Click here for more information about logging and timber buying from the professionals at Timber Works.

Review

1. Estimate the volume and individual species’ footage in your timber stand.
2. If you can wrap your arms around a particular tree (excluding professional athletes) it might not be quite ready to harvest, though this depends in part on species and other conditions.
3. The more mature trees you have, the more likely it is that your timber is ready for harvest.
4. To estimate the value of your timber, take the volume, divided by 1,000, and multiply it by the price quoted in your states standing timber stumpage report.

Estimating Standing Tree Volume

giant sequoia trees in california

This is part one of a two part blog series: Estimating Volume and Value of Standing Timber

Due to the natural contour, shape and the individual characteristics of tree growth, scaling standing timber and assessing the value of a stand of timber can seem like a daunting task.

Although there is no substitute for the expert eye that can only develop from years of practice, the process is not as mystical as many loggers would lead you to believe. With a little knowledge and some simple tools, you can get a relatively close estimate of a standing trees volume. From the volume, you can get a decent idea of the range of values this tree may be worth.

When determining board footage, you are estimating the amount of lumber that can be cut from a particular tree, not the amount of wood the tree contains. For the purposes of this blog, we will be explicitly dealing with lumber volume, which represents a very high proportion of a trees total value—determining the volumes of cordwood and pulpwood that can be cut from a particular tree is a lesson for another day. In the second installment of this blog series we will show you how to take the volume estimates we determine today and use widely available forestry data to get an idea of what your timber is worth.

First Measure Tree Diameter

DBH is defined as the diameter of the tree taken 4.5 feet up the trunk on the uphill side.
The overwhelming standard for calculating the board footage (cubic measure equaling 144 square inches) is the Doyle Scale.

With a couple of measurements taken from the tree the Doyle Scale will give us the tree’s volume. The first number we need to use our scale is the diameter at breast height (DBH). DBH is defined as the diameter of the tree taken 4.5 feet up the trunk on the uphill side. Diameter is taken this far up to account for the various degrees to which trees will flare at the at their base.

Don’t worry if it’s been a few years since your high school geometry course—it is common to confuse diameter (the measure across the tree equal to twice its radius) with circumference (the measure around a tree). When someone says they have a tree that is 5 or more feet in diameter, they likely are actually referring to circumference.

Because it is impossible to stick a ruler through a standing tree, the number you come up with won’t perfect. Just do your best to estimate the distance between the bark on one side to the other. In fact, the tables we’ll use in the next step only contain entries for trees at even inch markers—16 inches, 18, 20, etc.—so take your DBH measurement and round to the nearest even number. A tree that measures 18.9 inches will round down to 18 inches. A 19.6 inch tree rounds up to 20.

Next Estimate Tree Height

After we have the diameter of the tree we need to estimate it’s height. We’re not interested in the overall tree height—just the point at which the trunk narrows to 8 inches or where the tree contains too many defects—large limbs, knots, hollow spots, etc.—to be commercially valuable. Tree lengths are reported in 16 foot lengths, so a tree that is 32 feet tall would have two 16 foot sections.

Tree Height Estimation While you get to be pretty good at estimating this height by sight—remember you’re really only trying to guess to the nearest 8’—there are a number of tools to help you get this right. The most commonly used tool for this purpose is a Biltmore stick, easily available and quite affordable online.

Biltmore sticks are calibrated to be read either 66 or 100 feet away and have markings along the stick that correspond to tree heights. Held 25″ from your face, align the bottom of the stick with the bottom of the tree and adjust your line of sight (without moving your head) to read how many 16 foot sections are in the tree. When determining tree height you always round down to the closest whole or half stick. In other words if your Biltmore stick tells you that a particular tree is very close to 3 logs, you must scale it as 2.5 16 foot sticks, not 3.

Once you’ve determined the height of your tree you just plug the two numbers into the Doyle Scale.

The Doyle Scale

Use the table below to calculate the board footage contained in your standing timber. DBH numbers run down the left column while the number of 16 foot sticks runs across the top. Board footage figured are listed in the middle of the table at the intersections of the two numbers you learned how to calculate above.

D.B.H. No. of 16 Foot Sticks
1/2 1 1-1/2 2 2-1/2 3 3-1/2
10 inches 21 34 44 55      
12 inches 30 52 68 85 98    
14 inches 42 74 99 124 143 162  
16 inches 59 100 134 169 198 226 246
18 inches 74 129 175 221 259 297 325
20 inches 92 162 220 279 328 377 413
22 inches 112 198 271 344 406 467 514
24 inches 133 237 326 415 491 567 622
26 inches 158 284 392 500 592 684 755
28 inches 187 331 458 585 696 806 888
30 inches 220 381 529 677 805 933 1029
32 inches 254 435 606 776 926 1077 1192
34 inches 291 493 687 881 1054 1227 1359
36 inches 333 559 782 1006 1205 1404 1557
38 inches 374 624 874 1125 1354 1582 1754
40 inches 415 693 974 1256 1510 1764 1962

In the next blog you’ll learn how to take data collected by your state forestry agency and estimate what you might be able to expect from selling your timber.

Is My Timber Big Enough To Harvest

If properly managed, a woods can provide land owners with a wealth of benefits including both recreational enjoyment and periodic cash flows from timber harvests. In addition to the obvious financial benefit that comes with a well managed stand of hardwood, the forest can also provide vital wildlife habitat and beautiful recreational grounds for activities like trail riding and camping.

There are a lot of factors involved in deciding whether and when to harvest your standing timber including species and quality, but the number one question average timber owners know nothing about usually involves the size of their timber.

The number of large, mature trees is the single most important factor in deciding whether you should harvest your timber. So, is your timber big enough to harvest?

Harvest Your Timber at the Right Time

Like any other agricultural good, there is a window of time during a trees life-cycle where it is prime for harvesting.

Like any other agricultural good, there is a window of time during a trees life-cycle where it is prime for harvesting.
Before this period of time the timber contains a much smaller volume of lumber due to the nature of tree growth—as the diameter of the tree grows, its volume grows exponentially. In other words, a tree that is 18″ in diameter has much more volume than twice that contained in a tree that is only 9″ in diameter.

Beyond the prime harvest window, trees begin a slow, gradual decline, losing value and quality along the way. This is perfectly natural for in the life cycle of a woods, but it has important implications on whether or not your timber should be harvested. Though trees that have went too long tend to have lots of board footage, they are often riddled with rotten areas, defects such as lightning scars or frost cracks, and the overall the quality of the lumber they contain is lower than that of prime trees.

For these reasons, Timber Works strongly encourages land owners to only cut trees that are mature and ready to harvest. A typical rule of thumb for assessing whether or not your trees are ready to harvest is whether or not you can wrap your arms around it. A tree that an average person can wrap their arms around is too small to harvest and should be left to grow.

Average hardwood growth is about 2″ – 4″ in diameter per decade, so a small tree can easily grow to a size big enough to harvest within the average period of time timber lands are held.

Choose the Right Trees

Cutting timber with these principles in mind ensures there is a variety of sizes and ages within a timber stand. Proper management be the difference between obtaining a single harvest per generation from a stand of timber verses 3, 4 or even 5 harvests! Beyond the economic incentives of proper harvesting, maintaining a sound forest management plan also increases the health and vitality of a woods ultimately making it more enjoyable for both the land owners and the local wildlife as well!

Contact us today for a no-obligation assessment of your timber stand.

Beautiful Walnut Slabs

black walnut slab table with metal base

Black Walnut is among the best hardwood varieties in North America to make slabs out of.

It’s beautiful, dark tone pairs is outlined by a thin layer of light colored sapwood to create an exciting contrast and unique, visually-interesting design. Black Walnut slabs are being increasingly utilized for things such as table tops, counter tops, as accents over entries and an untold number of other creative ways. When finished, Black Walnut becomes dark brown and has an intense grain pattern.

Natural Hardwood Slabs

If you’re looking for live-edge slabs, the best trees are always cut in the winter when the sap has fallen. During this period the bark is a great deal more stable and resilient to breaking and chipping off. While it is impossible to guarantee that 100% of the bark remains firmly attached to the log slices, Winter cut logs offer the highest chances of success.

The best way to ensure the bark edge endures time and wear we recommend customers use a two part thick epoxy coating over the entire piece of lumber. While this ensures the bark remains on the slab, it does give the piece a high-gloss finish.

A more minimalist approach is to use straight linseed oil and embrace the natural inconsistency of the bark. Linseed oil creates a warm, water-resistant surface that complements the natural beauty of the wood.

Dimensional Hardwood Slabs

While our natural slabs are visually dynamic and give a strong sense of the tree design and form, we also produce dimensional slabs at standard sizes or with custom dimensions depending on your design needs. In the past customers have requested that one edge be straight-lined.

Straight-lining is a process whereby we pass a piece of lumber through a special saw which produces a straight edge on one side of the board. This process is particularly useful when a customer wishes to install a live-edge slab flush against the wall.

Check out our lumber fact sheet for more information about hardwood lumber from Timber Works.

Design Trend: Beetle Kill Wood

beautiful beetle kill wood

Though you may not recognize it by name, odds are you’ve been somewhere that is incorporating beetle kill wood into it’s design. It is salvaged from the western forest and is demanding unbelievable prices in certain markets. In fact, beetle kill wood is rapidly becoming one of the hottest design trends in 2013.

What is Beetle Kill Wood

Beetle kill wood is lumber that has been salvaged from trees killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle, which attacks several species of western evergreens but is causing unprecedented damage to the Lodgepole Pine, native to elevations between 6,000 and 11,000 feet above sea level. Lodgepoles can be found in western states including Colorado, Utah, Idaho as well as parts of Washington and Oregon.

Although the Mountain Pine Beetle has long been a normal part of the western forest’s life cycle—killing weakened or older trees and thereby speeding the growth of younger trees—unusually dry summers combined with a mild winters has led to a growing pandemic among the Lodgepole pine population. Much like the Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand cankers disease, Mountain Pine Beetle lays its eggs in the bark of a host tree, also introducing blue stain fungus into the tree.

While the populations of these beetles have historically been kept in check by winter freezes and summer moisture, the combination of mild winters and hot, dry summers have led to a beetle explosion.
The blue fungus weakens a host trees native defenses allowing Western Pine Beetle to carry out its life cycle without interruption.

The combination of beetle infestation and blue stain fungus has proven quite fatal to the trees and can rapidly destroy large sections of healthy forest.

While the populations of these beetles have historically been kept in check by winter freezes and summer moisture, the combination of mild winters and hot, dry summers have led to a beetle explosion. Further, warmer temperatures have expanded the beetles native habitat by over half a million acres alone. In all, the recent pandemic of Mountain Pine Beetle has killed off an area of western forest about the size of Rhode Island.

Beetle Kill Wood in Design

The recent uptick in forest fire severity has led to a growing concern with removing the dead trees left in Mountain Pine Beetle’s wake in order to reduce the available fuel for future wildfires. Luckily a growing design trend is aiding in this process. The silver lining to the beetle kill facing the western forest is the fact that lumber salvaged from these dead trees gains a unique, beautiful coloration that is growing immensely in popularity.

It turns out the Beetle Kill trees provide beautiful lumber to use in flooring, ceiling paneling and many other design applications—the stuff has grown into one of the hottest design trends among architects from Colorado to California. The wood has distinct areas of blue gray and white tones along with occasional bright blue or green streaks that are so vivid that wood appears to have been painted.

While we don’t stock Beetle Kill Wood (yet), we do offer a number of rustic and design grade lumber options as well as hardwood slabs that are not typical to most Ohio sawmills and hardwood lumber suppliers. Check out our lumber section for more information about hardwood lumber from Timber Works.

Thousand Cankers Disease

thousand cankers as seen in black walnut trees

Thousand cankers disease (TCD) is a new disease of the Walnut genus that is especially damage-causing in the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) species.

Deadly to Black Walnut

Relatively harmless to Walnut species within the Walnut Twig Beetle’s native range, TCD is devastating to eastern members of the Juglans genus such as Black Walnut. TCD has not yet been discovered in Ohio, but the Walnut Twig Beetle has, and great efforts are currently underway to prevent TCD from infecting and destroying our Black Walnut trees.

Although mortality of infected trees is ultimately caused by the Geosmithia morbida fungus, this fungus is transported to host trees by the Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB). The fungus is introduced to a given tree by normal aspects of the Walnut Twig Beetle’s lifecycle—burrowing into and overwintering within the bark and layers of the host tree.

Once the adult beetle has emerged, spores deposited within the tree grow rapidly around the exit wound on the side of the infected tree. Cankers are initiated each time a beetle bores into the tree and over time a small number of cankers turns into many and ultimately disrupts the cambium of the tree. Though it is not clear how the disease began, what is clear is that this disease is detrimental to eastern Black Walnut populations and threaten a valuable economic and ecological resource.

The Walnut Twig Beetle is native to Mexico and parts of Arizona, New Mexico and California. While western species of the Walnut genus such as Arizona Walnut and Northern California Walnut are highly resistant or even immune to the disease, Black Walnut, which is pervasive throughout the eastern hardwood forest, has a high degree of mortality when confronted with TCD. This susceptibility was first observed in Black Walnut groves located in California.

Timber Quarantines Loom

…for a second year in a row the Walnut Twig Beetle has been found in Butler County, Ohio and for the first time ever in our state a quarantine on Walnut trees located within Butler County has been implemented.
Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer currently affecting Ohio’s Ash population, TCD is hard to recognize and shows few visible signs within infected trees early on in the disease-cycle.

In fact, by the time symptoms are noticeable, tree death can occur in as little as three years. The first visible sign of TCD is a yellowing of the upper canopy which can occur in very few or even single branches. Sudden leaf wilting characterizes the end stages of TCD appearing in large branches or the entire canopy at once.

Living up to its name, the disease is slow and methodical in the manner with which it ultimately kills a host Walnut tree. Small cankers form at the site of each beetle attack. Over time, the number of cankers on a tree grows as more and more Walnut Twig Beetles bore into its bark and cambium.

Eventually, the fungus envelops the tree and the thousands of cankers on its surface coalesce, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree.

TCD has not yet been discovered in Ohio Walnut populations, but the disease has been found in three eastern states—Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia. However, for a second year in a row the Walnut Twig Beetle has been found in Butler County, Ohio and for the first time ever in our state a quarantine on Walnut trees located within Butler County has been implemented.

Timber Owners Be Watchful

For now, we watch the development of this disease with cautious optimism that quarantines will be effective against the spread of the disease. The Black Walnut population throughout our region’s hardwood forest would be a terrible thing to lose—in addition to providing valuable nutrients to native wildlife populations, these trees produce beautiful, classically-enduring lumber used in furniture, flooring and cabinets.

The USDA estimates the value of the Black Walnut stand located in the eastern United States at 500 billion dollars. Losing such a valuable resource would be a terrible turn for our forests.

Timber Ownership in the US

timber ownership historical chart

For the purposes of data collection, the United States is divided into 9 distinct regions by the USDA.

These boundaries represent the types and uses of the timber grown within a given region and are shown in the first figure of this post.

In the Western, Southern and Northeast regions of the United States timber is primarily composed of coniferous trees used for paper, construction materials and other softwood applications. Quality hardwood timber can be concentrated primarily in the Midwest, Southern and parts of the Northeast regions of the United States.

The Best Hardwood Timber

The best hardwood timber is grown where the Northeast, North Central, Southeast and South Central regions come together. In fact, it is widely held that Southern Ohio, West Virginia and the Northern Appalachian region grows the best, highest-quality hardwood timber in the country. Timber Works buys much hardwood timber from this region. The quality of true Northern Appalachian hardwood is unmatched by the rest of the country.

The quality of the timber in the Ohio, W. Virginia and N. Kentucky areas is reflected by the market—this timber is among the most valuable in the world. This helps explain how the Ohio forest products industry contributes over $15 billion per year to the state economy.

Despite what many people think, timber land in the United States is not concentrated in the hands of government or giant forest-industry corporations—standing timber in America is overwhelmingly held in small, private hands. As you can clearly see in the second figure, the percentage of timber owned by private individuals grew to over 60% in 2001.

Private ownership encourages good stewardship of the forest resource which, when properly managed, is truly a sustainable resource.

us-timber-regions Although we harvest between 300 and 400 million board feet of hardwood timber from the state of Ohio per year, forested land in the state, which accounts for about 30% of the total land volume of Ohio, produces around 1 Billion feet of timber per year.

In other words, the stock of hardwood timber in the state of Ohio is growing steadily at a ratio of about 2.4:1.

We believe a properly managed forest is a win-win scenario. By partnering with land owners and carrying out strategic harvests, our company is able to maximize the financial return to a land owner while balancing environmental concerns and ensuring continued forest vitality. Visit our timber sales and logging section to learn more about harvesting your timber.