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Old 04-28-2013, 05:33 PM
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Default Pine Thinning

Hey everyone, I need some advice. The natural regeneration pine stand on my hunting property in Madison, Ga is in need of its first thinning. The pines are about 14 years old and average around 5 inches in diameter. Recently we had a logger come out to look at the property and they said they could not thin the stand effectively enough to turn a profit, so they would not do it. Is it typical to have to pay a logger to selectively harvest a young pine stand? Or do you think I could find another logger that would pay to take out these trees for pulp wood?
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:47 PM
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Often times in a naturally regenerated stand you get to much recruitment thus too much competition and stunted growth. It is not unusual to conduct a pre-commercial thin without turning a profit. I'd still look around though.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:58 PM
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Thats kinda what I figured. Is it unusual to find a logger that will just do it for free?
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Old 04-28-2013, 06:05 PM
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If the logger said he can't turn a profit then another logger isn't going to be able to either. The price per ton at the mill is the price per ton, regardless of who cuts it. It costs the logger the same amount of money to move equipment, set up, take down and move to the next location whether he is cutting 30 acres or 300 acres except he can't make his fixed costs back on a 30 acre thinning.

If you can cut a deal with him to thin and then clean up behind himself and he gets to keep all the money from the sale to the mill go with it. Like Quercus Alba said the longer you wait the more stunted the growth on your existing pines. Thinning now means you got a shot at making some money later.

You need to hire a forester to do a timber cruise and make recommendations.
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Old 04-28-2013, 11:36 PM
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Won't hurt to ask another timber buyer. How many acres we talking here. There's at least one biomass harvester in the area that might thin it for free.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:44 AM
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5 inch diameter trees are right on the line of being considered merchantable for pulpwood. My advice as a forestry professional would be to hire a consulting forester to handle your sale. As previously stated, if the trees are stunted, then they are going to need a pre-commercial thinning in order to make some money down the road. Assuming that they are not stunted, then you need to wait a little longer. A first thinning is the most important thin that will occur in the rotation of the stand, so you want it done right. I dont think you're gonna want the headache of administering a timber sale if you have never done it before.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:32 AM
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Talk to your neighbors, if they have trees. If your stand is too small to profit, then have the neighbors try to band together if possible. It may work, or not.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:27 AM
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Exactly what GDAWG84 said....don't do a thing until you hire a consulting forester to take a look at your stand! I can't emphasize the importance of working with a forester enough! The timber industry is second only to the used car salesman in integrity.
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:29 PM
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Prior to hiring anyone I would suggest contact your regional Ga Forestry office. They are a taxpaid resource that can guide you toward making a sensible decision. Since you are in Madison Ga the folks at the office near Rutledge and Good Hope oughta be able to steer you toward the right folks.

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Old 04-30-2013, 09:28 PM
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Ranger, here's the link to the Georgia Forestry Commission website where you can find forestry consultants in your area.
http://www.gatrees.org/forest-manage...wner-programs/

Click on Directories.
Their credentials are listed as well as contact info. Another good resource is to talk to landowners in the area to get recommendations for consultants.
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:38 PM
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Different loggers are set up for different operations and some are more of a middle ground. Just because he said he can't turn a profit doesn't mean another crew cannot that is set up for that type of operation.
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Old 05-08-2013, 04:22 PM
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Ranger,
Here's the basic economics. A 5", 45' tall tree weighs about 177 pounds, so it takes 11 of them to make a ton. A 6", 50' tall tree weighs 284 lbs do it takes only 7 of them to make a ton. The price at the mill is fixed (it fluctuates over time but at time of harvest, it's fixed). Logging is piece size sensitive - each piece must be "handled" by equipment. What you logger is saying is that your trees are of a size to where there are too many pieces to be handled to make a ton of wood; by the time he cuts it, skids it to a ramp, loads it on a trailer and hauls it to the mill, the delivered price he receives won't cover his operating cost.

If it were mine, I'd wait a few years and then thin it. It usually takes 20 tons per acre of removals to make it economic to harvest, and you probably need 30+ acres available for harvest. It's easy to get in a rush and want to "clean up the property", but with patience you can get a better harvest job and have some cash flow, rather than giving away free wood..... we usually schedule thinnings when the residual (best trees left after harvest) have an average height of 45-50', about 6.5" dbh and around 220 or so to the acre. The age/size depends on how good the ground is and past management history. On good sites we may do it at age 12-14, but on natural regeneration with alot of stems, I'm thinking you are looking at age 17 or so.....

And yes, please hire a consulting forester to look at the property and administer the sale. It's money well spent.
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Old 05-17-2013, 09:37 PM
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If he says he cant turn a profit then that would tell me its either not enough acres or not enough volume or he just doesn't want the job. My guess would be its just not enough volume. If you conduct a thin you shouldn't have to give the wood away to have it done. As some mentioned contact the GFC forester for Madison County.
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Old 05-18-2013, 01:07 AM
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Good thread and info. We have a couple hundred acres with pines in the 16-17 yr age class. They were planted but some natural regeneration mixed in and some hardwood growth as property was planted without a burn being done. If any of you guys are licensed forester consultants send me a pm. I'm thinking its time for a thinning. We burned it 2 yrs ago which helped some
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:20 AM
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Recently I've been talking with a Mr. Rawls that worked in forestry for years and is now a forestry consultant that also has a real estate license who sells land tracts and arranges burnings, thinnings, replantings, etc. for land owners. He informed me first thinning for planted pines is done no sooner than 15 years and may not be until 18 years after planting, and there's about $300 per acre in timber that is realized in the first thinning.

I don't know what the situation would be for a natural regeneration tract, but Mr. Rawls may know. His web site is www.jgrawls.com if anyone's interested in contacting him, and his office is in Macon, Ga.
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Old 05-22-2013, 05:56 PM
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You definitely need to talk to a Forester. Several years ago I was randomly offered a price for a tract of timber on my family farm. I thought it was a decent price, but I had a friend at the local Forestry office and I asked him. He put me in touch with a Forester who got me 80% more than what I was first offered. He handled everything and it cost me nothing out of pocket.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:07 PM
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I had some of my property thinned for the first time in 09. First two timber companies said they would thin it but it would not turn enough profit for me to be paid anything. I went thru a forester and ended up being paid close to $ 18,000.00. So hire a licensed forester. May cost you 10% but well worth it.
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