Why use a Consulting Forester?
owners grow their timber for 25-30 years and then make a snap
decision about selling it. To get top money for timber, it must be
marketed at a good time and bids must be obtained. Selling is easy,
but getting top dollar takes time and planning. Planning means: be
knowledgeable of current prices, volume of timber and economic
maturity, value of timber, advertising the sale to several buyers,
and having a plan for regenerating the tract for future income.
Questions that should be asked are? Does the tract need to be
thinned or clear-cut? Does the timber need to be sold by the ton or
lump sum? How wide should the streamside management zones (SMZs) be
and how will they be designated?
Do the timber owners need someone representing them or will the
buyer do all of the above, looking out for their best interests.
Selling timber is a critical decision and can be “stored on the
stump” if markets are poor. Demand and price are two critical
factors. Valuable investments have been ruined, because the
landowner thought they knew how to do it.
The best option is to let a professional consulting forester assist
in making these decisions and getting what the timber is worth. This
means getting more than one offer and a handshake.
A quality consultant will:
• Verify that the timber is economically mature
• Mail informative invitations requesting sealed bids. These
invitations include volume, species, location, type and place of
• Prepare a written agreement to specify details on payment,
insurance, location, performance deposit, time to harvest the
• Be fair but follow the contract according to landowner’s wishes
• Deal with reputable buyers
• Inspect sale area regularly
A forestry consultant is selling his services and can demonstrate
that forestry is an economically sound business. An effective
consulting forester usually more than compensates for his fee. The
forester should be a Registered Forester, or a SAF member, or
Association of Consulting Foresters member. This is an indirect
indication of their qualifications.
Timberland as an Investment
and Poor’s 500 over the last 45 years has produced an annual return
of approximately 10.5%. Timberland, intensively managed over the
same time, has generated an average annual return of 12%. Timber is
also a hedge against inflation because it increases in price a
little above the rate of inflation. It is an excellent investment
for part of your portfolio, since it is more steady than Wall Street
has been for the past 3 years.
Value from timberland is arrived from:
1. Growth - This means to plant the best genetic seedlings
available, use herbicide and weed control chemicals, fertilize, thin whenever a
stand analysis recommends to, and clearcut when financially mature.
2. Sale of timber - When selling the timber, competitive bidding
yields the highest return.
3. Leases - Minerals, hunting, and other types of leases add to
4. Land Appreciation - Is not controlled by the owner but by the
market. Landowners control numbers 1, 2, and 3 only, and in order to maximize
income a Forestry Consultant is invaluable.
The future looks good for timber products as population
increases. Timber is a long term investment and must be held for several years
to maximize returns. There are risks involved like in any investment.
Intensive management produces the highest rate of return. This
means following a program that determines financial maturity for each stand of
timber, planting the best seedlings available, removing the competing
vegetation, fertilizing, and thinning at the appropriate time.
Future Looks Bright for Those Who Plan
Alabama is a leader in timber production. The timber industry is one of the top revenue and job producing industries in our state. One reason is the large amount of forest land contained within Alabama.
Many people think that much of this land is owned by government agencies and large timber companies, however these two groups only account for 28 percent of the state's forest land. The remaining 72 percent is owned by non-industrial, private landowners.
Unfortunately, private landowners do not always practice good forest management. In the past, many of these landowners would sell their timber and leave the land to manage itself. Often, these landowners - with little experience in timber marketing - did not even get a good price for the timber they sold.
Of course, there will always be movement in the timber market - both up and down - due to the general economy. Within the larger timber market, different types of timber (age, species, etc.) may see price variation because of changes in the end-use markets.
With these factors in mind, it becomes more important than ever for landowners to know exactly what they have before selling any timber. It's also important to make plans for the future so that property can remain productive and serve as a source of income for years to come. This is where advice from a professional forester can be of tremendous help to the private landowner.
Managers, foresters, and employees of McKinley & Lanier Forest Resources have been assisting landowners with management, marketing and planning services for more than 26 years. We ensure that our clients receive the highest revenue possible for their timber by providing technical advice on how to care for the property.
Private landowners in Alabama are in a very enviable position. Their timber is valuable, and they have expert consulting services available to assist them in making the best use of their property for generations to come.
The future for landowners in Alabama looks bright. It is especially bright for those who practice wise forest management today to ensure a more productive harvest tomorrow.
Privet can be as bad as kudzu. It has become an invasive plant. Most privet today is Chinese privet and was brought to the U. S. in the 1850's. One hundred years later it started spreading throughout the southeast. The privet seed is located in the dark purple fruit that hangs in clusters from the branches. Birds are the main culprit that spread the privet.
Privet can be controlled to some degree by burning, tractors with root rakes, saws, pulling the plants out of the ground, digging, and using herbicides. If you cut down the privet, use Garlon 3A on the stumps. Arsenal AC, Chopper, or Velpar L (1 quart per 3-gallon mix) can be used if you are not concerned about the adjoining trees. Don't forget these three herbicides are soil active so be careful.
Basal stem sprays using Garlon 4 in a 20% solution and tree injection methods are good for the large stems over 1 inch in diameter. After the small stems are cut or mowed foliar sprays are good. The Farm Service Agency-EQIP program offers some financial assistance in controlling privet.
For more information contact our office.
Chemical Site Preparation is
Site preparation is a procedure used to prepare an area for pine or hardwood regeneration. Chemical site preparation is generally more beneficial financially than the alternatives of mechanical or no site preparation at all. No site preparation allows competing vegetation to grow freely which will be a direct competitor for water and nutrients in the planted stand. The influence of this competition affects the survival and growth rates of crop trees.
Mechanical site preparation is usually a costly alternative that provides early control of competition, and looks good, but does not have long lasting effects. In order to get these long lasting effects mechanical site preparation must be followed by a chemical application in most situations. This adds even more cost to the investment. There are some significant disadvantages to the use of machinery in site preparation. Mechanical site preparation can increase soil compaction, increase erosion and sedimentation, and/or remove topsoil, all of which diminish site quality.
Chemical site preparation helps facilitate the regeneration process by killing unwanted vegetation found on the site. This vegetation may be residual hardwood trees, natural pine regeneration, and/or herbaceous plants. The reduction in competing vegetation frees newly planted seedlings to grow and gives them the ability to take advantage of all available nutrients. The effects of chemicals are generally long lasting on targeted species. This allows planted trees the opportunity to establish themselves and get a head start on the competitors located on the site. This in turn relates directly to an increase in the productivity of the site which leads to greater returns on investment. The cost of chemical site preparation can be high, however the gains in return on investment outweigh the initial costs.
The Best Way to Sell Timber
It takes years to grow timber, but some landowners sell it to the first person that comes along. It sounds like a lot of money, but is it the best you can do?
All timber companies and timber investment groups sell lump sum seal bid if they don’t use the timber at their own mills. There must be a reason for this. In order to maximize their timber income, they solicit 30-50 buyers to bid on their timber. Factors to determine if bidding is the best way to sell are: size of tract, quality of timber, clear specifications in the prospectus on what is being sold and a concise contract. The seller should gather ideas on how his timber should be cut. Most landowners do not like to pay a consultant fee. Universities show where landowners receive more profit even after paying a consultant fee, than they do by selling their own timber.
People do not realize when an offer to (bid) sell is sent to several companies, that some companies need the timber more than others. In other words, a timber consultant gives all companies an opportunity to bid or otherwise the seller only receives one price from one company.
Sure it costs to use a quality forestry consultant, but it is a “win-win” situation. The landowner receives more for his timber, has professional assistance in setting up the sale, and is worry free once the sale is completed.
Eliminate the Burden
We manage hunting clubs by providing a written contract, collecting payments, verifying liability insurance, and handling problems for landowners who own 500 acres or more.
Natural Oak Regeneration
High quality oak is very hard to regenerate after a harvest. Before cutting, advanced oak regeneration must be present to start the new stand. Research shows that oak seedlings and saplings must be at least 3 to 4 feet in height if natural oaks are expected to be in the next stand. Smaller oak seedlings will become over topped by faster growing undesirable species and will die. The larger the advanced reproduction the better the chance of survival. Sprouting of young oaks, when cut, will also supplement the oak composition on the bottom land site. If the large saplings are knocked down during logging, they are capable of growing new healthy sprouts and doing fine.
Research has shown that if the site index in the bottom land is less than 70 oaks will tend to naturally regenerate themselves. However, most sites are above 70 and do not do a good natural regeneration job. Inspecting the harvest sight before cutting and determining species composition is the answer for success. Undesirable premerchantable trees in the understory could be injected with a herbicide, so they will not make up the next stand.
If there are not quality oak seedlings in the understory, artificial planting of seedlings could work, or advanced regeneration could be developed. Another method is to wait until there is fresh oak regeneration, then chemically remove the undesirable understory to allow some sunlight to reach the forest floor. Allow the oak saplings to reach 4 - 5 feet in height; this method can take 4 to 5 years to accomplish.
Which species of oaks should be planted in the bottoms? In well-drained soil: Cherrybark oak, Shumard oak, and Swamp Chestnut oak do well. On poorly drained flats: Willow oak, Water oak, and Pin oaks do best. If flooding is frequent then plant Overcup oak and Nuttall oak. If there is a moist site, but well-drained, then Northern Red oak is desirable to plant. One species of oak does not fit all types of sites.
Planting large bare root hardwood seedlings is recommended over containerized hardwood seedlings. Hardwood seedlings should be at least 2.5 feet tall. It is recommended to plant approximately 100 seedlings per acre.
Plant seedlings to the original level as they were in the nursery. All air pockets should be closed and seedlings should be straight.
Competition control is necessary for moisture and nutrients. This control can be before or after planting and can be chemical or mechanical for the next two to three years. Remember to plant the correct species according to the site, plant correctly, and control the competing competition for two to three years.
Sudden Oak Death
This fungus was found in California in the year 2000. Since that time a large nursery in California shipped infected camellias to over 1,500 nurseries in approximately 40 states. SOD fungus spreads by soil, air, roots, and water. It can cause trunk cankers which girdle and eventually kill the tree. Obvious symptoms are found on twigs and leaves of the trees, but normally do not kill the tree.
The most susceptible oak species are southern and northern red oaks. Infected plants have been discovered in Alabama. This fungus grows much faster in the southeast with our humid conditions.
In Alabama, the Department of Agriculture and Industries is the lead agency in delineating, controlling, and removing the fungus.
What's My Timber Worth
That's a question often asked foresters. In appraising the value of timber, several factors have to be taken into consideration; volume of timber per acre; the size and grade (quality) of the timber; access to the property; and local market conditions.
To find out how much your timber is worth, contact McKinley & Lanier Forest Resources, Inc., whose foresters are experienced timber appraisers.
to the property is one factor considered in timber appraisals.
quality is based on the number of knots or limbs on the tree.
Lumber that is free of knots is worth more than lumber with
knots. Therefore, the cleaner and bigger the tree, the more
valuable it is because better grade lumber can be cut from it.
Naturally, as a tree grows older it will increase in value as
the volume of lumber increases.
Droughts affect both pine and hardwood trees. When the leaves do not get enough water they may be smaller than normal, turn brown, and even defoliate. Pines normally will not wilt from drought. Often the second year some pine needles will drop earlier than normal but the trees will be fine.
Some drought weakened pine trees have fallen victim to the Ips beetles and
southern pine beetles. Even though some hardwoods were completely
defoliated during the summer, some will recover and do fine the
following year. Wait until next summer before removing these trees
Certified Boundary Surveys can be important to
In today's escalating market of land, timber, and mineral values, becoming a victim of timber trespass, mineral theft, and loss of land acreage through adverse possession can be extremely costly.
Consider the worth of your acreage. Certified boundary surveys help protect your property from intrusions. They help protect your investment. By reclaiming just two or three acres, a certified survey could pay for itself.
If your property lines are painted on trees or marked by an old fence, it would be advantageous to maintain them. Old lines deteriorate but good boundary line paint applied to the line trees will extend the life of your property lines for eight to ten years.
Soils and Fertilization
The quality of your soil influences the growth of your trees. This variance is affected by fertility, water drainage, texture (sand, clay, silt), depth of topsoil, and subsoil consistency. In the forest we measure “site index” on a given site at age 25 or 50 years in the south. With this measure we select dominate loblolly trees and by using their age, height, and graphs, we can determine what height that tree will be at age twenty-five or fifty. This tells us the site index for that specific spot. By sampling over the tract we arrive at an average site index for the tract.
In general most tracts average between 65-95 site index. In a managed stand of timber if the site index is 70, the timber value at age 40 would be approximately $2,000 per acre; if site index is 80 and the same age it would be approximately $4,000 per acre; and if site index is 90 and the same age it would be approximately $5,000 per acre. The quality of the soil does make a difference.
This is the reason large companies are fertilizing. They want to increase the site index. For example: Company XYZ is fertilizing their pine plantations four times during the life cycle of timber growth. They are fertilizing approximately every 8 years with 25 pounds per acre of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) and 140 - 200 pounds per acre of Urea. This fertilizer is being aerial applied with a cost between $65 to $90 per acre. Soil and foliage tests help determine the amount of fertilizer to apply.
With proper amounts of fertilizer and good timing, a stand of timber should increase growth by 1/2 cord per acre per year. This will shorten rotation to 28 years rather than 32-35 years. In a control study a 6 year old pine plantation without fertilizer averaged 11 feet tall and with DAP, Urea and herbicides the test plot trees were 18 feet tall.
Southern Pine Beetle
Beetles run in cycles every five to twelve years. The Southern Pine Beetle kills more trees than fires, other insects, or diseases in the Southeast.
Usually, the insect attacks a tree damaged by high winds or lightning and gains entry through the wound. It lives under the bark and as spring arrives lays eggs. The tree is killed when the larvae enters the cambium layer and starts eating. Adults continue to emerge and move to other adjoining trees. These trees can stay green for several days to weeks before they turn brown.
Landowners should try to find someone as soon as possible to stop the spread. The two types of cutting practices to stop beetle outbreaks is cut-and-leave and cut-and-remove. Both methods are effective in reducing the number of pine trees killed. Markets are often so full that a person cannot sell his wood, so cut-and-leave is the only choice to use. If areas are susceptible to beetles the timber needs to be thinned ahead of beetle infestation.
Thinning Pine Plantations
A landowner initially plants too many trees with
the idea that the trees will need to be thinned to maintain a
healthy diameter growth. The first thinning occurs when the stand of
trees is around 15-18 years old. The approximate income per acre
with the first thinning is between $150-$200. This is the first of
three cuttings on that particular stand of timber. The benefits of
the first and second thinning is to remove trees that are
overcrowded, diseased, forked, crooked, and trees with poor crowns.
Thinning leaves space for the remaining trees to grow faster and
Thinning also encourages natural grasses,
understory growth for wildlife, and legume seeds for birds. Hardwood
growth, such as sweet gums, also begins growing which competes with
the planted pines for water and nutrients. Herbicides or prescribe
burning on a regular basis can keep the hardwood competition to a
minimum. This helps maintain the openness of the understory which
encourages wildlife habitat.
We recommend clear-cutting every fifth row and
thinning two rows on each side. If the contractor clear-cuts every 3rd
row, he is removing too many trees and not selecting the best ones
to leave for the future. If the rows are not visible, the
cutter/operator still needs to clear-cut paralleling rows every 50
feet apart and thinning the remaining stand on each side of the
Constant checking is important to be sure the
thinning is proceeding as in the above paragraph. Don’t forget to
leave the best quality trees for future sawtimber. Leaving 70 square
feet of basal area produces a good stand of crop trees.
Most thinning contracts are for twelve months
which gives the logger time to perform a good job, have a market for
the wood, and harvest the area when it is dry, so as not to cause
ruts and soil compaction.
The second thinning should be eight to ten years
later when the crowns start closing and diameter growth slows. Both
thinnings need to be done correctly in order to maximize value of
the final harvest.
Why Have Some of My
Pine Trees Died
the first thought is the Southern Pine Beetle. However, that was not
the case last summer. It appears that this summer will be similar to
last year. The drought weakens the tree, slows the resin flow, and
severely stresses the tree. Drought creates an ideal situation for
the IPS ENGRAVER BEETLE.
The symptom of the Ips Engraver Beetle is similar
to the Southern Pine Beetle. Pitch tubes will seep from the holes in
the bark, but normally the holes are smaller than the Southern Pine
Beetle. The Ips beetle attacks the upper portion of the tree, and
the pitch tubes are reddish-brown in color. The feeding galleries
under the bark are shaped in the form of a Y and H, whereas the
Southern Pine Beetle feeding gallery is in the form of an S.
The Ips beetle usually infests only a few pines
at each location. The infested area does not get as large as the
Southern Pine Beetle areas. This past year the Ips beetle infested
some pine stands heavily and killed more trees than usual. The
insect attacks drought weakened and injured trees normally, and this
is why it was so wide spread.
Controlling the outbreak is similar to the
Southern Pine beetle control. This means cutting and removing all
trees in a buffer around the infested trees or using an approved
insecticide. Rain helps the situation and would greatly reduce the
mortality because the pines could overwhelm the Ips beetle with
The maintenance of healthy stands would reduce
the damage. This means maintaining your pine stands at 70-90 square
feet of basal area. Over-crowding means less water and nutrients
available for each tree.
Some of the
advantages of Longleaf pine over Loblolly pine are as follows:
Containerized Longleaf pine seedlings survive spring droughts better
than bare root Loblolly pine. After establishment, Longleaf is more
resistant to damage from fire, insects, disease, and wind. A
landowner can plant Longleaf seedlings wherever he can plant
Loblolly, and Longleaf does better on heavy soils and sandy soils.
It produces more poles and better grade lumber than Loblolly and is
often worth 25-30% more than the same volume or weight of Loblolly.
These are a few of the reasons why some landowners prefer Longleaf
An article about turning trees and wood scraps into biofuel for
automobiles was recently in the newspaper. Approximately one ton of
wood will produce 80 gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Plants which are
currently being built will use a chemical process that heats wood
waste and transforms it into a heavy synthesis gas. This gas is then
turned into ethanol and methanol.
This type of fuel is more environmentally friendly than corn
ethanol. It uses waste products, is more efficient to produce, uses
less water, and requires less energy to produce. As this process
improves and more plants are built, the landowner will have another
source of revenue for his timber.
Wood Biomass Demand
will be another market for landowners. Three new mills in Georgia,
Florida, and Alabama are planning to produce over 1,000,000 tons of
wood pellets for the production of electricity in Europe. The Kyoto
Protocol requires these plants to use fuels produced from renewable
Dixie Pellets is located in Selma, Alabama, another mill in Jackson
County, Florida, and the third is the Cantonment mill in Georgia.
The pellets from these mills will be trucked or barged to Mobile,
Alabama for shipment to Europe. All three plants plan to produce and
ship in 2008. The wood pellets from Selma will require 3 to 4
million tons of small diameter wood and logging residue in the South
Currently there are several pellet mills in the northeast U. S., but
none have the production capabilities of these new mills. Alabama
will have increased demand for small-diameter wood, so prices should
Burning Improves Wildlife Habitat
Burning creates low-growing herbaceous plants, makes the natural
foods more accessible, increases cover for wildlife, reduces
undesirable hardwood stems in pine plantations, and increases timber
growth by removing the competition. The burn needs to be
accomplished in the dormant season and before the turkeys nest.
Burning late will destroy the turkey nests.
Burning reduces the fuel, adds nutrients to the
soil, and opens the stand. Wildlife biologist generally recommend to
burn every three years for improving the wildlife habitat. Burning
in a checker board pattern creates a variety of food and cover for
all sorts of wildlife.
If the landowner burns his own property, he must
be a "Certified Burn Manager". He must get weather conditions for
his county from the Alabama Forestry Commission website, obtain a
burn permit the day of the burn, have plenty of help and equipment
available, and be very mindful of wind direction, highways, homes,
and communities. Liability is very important. Most consultants who
offer prescribe burning services have insurance.
Cogongrass is aggressive
and very difficult to control. It can now be found through-out
Alabama reducing forest productivity, ruining wildlife habitat, and
creating a fire hazard. The seed is small, light in weight, and
transported by wind, animals, truck tires, four wheelers, farming
tractors, etc... Cogongrass can be recognized, because it creates a
solid bed of grass, can be one to four feet tall, edges of the
leaves are saw-toothed, and the center vein is off center.
It is found in fields, pastures, along roads,
urban areas, wetlands, and forest lands. The plant burns very hot in
the dormant season, but is not killed by fire. The plant reduces
forest and pasture growth, has no value for wildlife, creates
problems in fields and all open land, and will not allow native
vegetation to exist on the same site.
Cogongrass can be somewhat controlled in fields
by repeated disking to a 6 inch depth during the growing season. In
the woods both glyphosate and imazapyr herbicides are effective.
Apply these herbicides in the spring and in September or October for
control and eradication. It will take four to five years to
accomplish complete eradication. More information is available at
In order to
achieve successful reforestation, one must plan in advance. The
first step is to choose the appropriate species for that particular
site. Consider the previous stand and conditions in which it was
left; this will aid in making a prescription for reforestation of
Most areas need some degree of site preparation before planting
takes place. The following is a general guideline to consider for
most pine reforestation. Tracts will need to be treated with
herbicide in late spring and summer. This will kill any residual
seedlings or sprouting along with weeds and brush from the previous
stand. Once the treatment has taken effect by late summer, or early
fall, a site preparation burn may need to be administered. This will
reduce any residual natural seedlings or sprouting not eliminated by
the herbicide treatment as well as providing better planting access.
Mechanical site preparation may also be needed to improve the
planting site. Shearing, bedding, ripping, etc., are some of the
methods used and need to be planned around spraying and burning
applications. Planting of pine seedlings usually takes place from
December 1 through March 1 for bare root seedlings. In the following
spring, pine seedlings need to have a herbicide application to
release the seedlings from any herbaceous competition.
As you can see there are many steps in the reforestation process
that take months to prepare and to administer. Begin your planning
after timber harvest to achieve successful reforestation.