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.