Determining Timber Worth
Timber is an unusual commodity in that it has no pre-established price. Instead, the price is whatever the buyer and seller agree to. It is influenced by many factors, including:
- Tree species. Wood from some species is more valuable than wood from other species.
- Tree size. Large diameter trees have more usable volume and clear wood than small trees and are of greater per unit value.
- Tree quality. Trees with fewer butt log (the first log from the stump) defects (such as branch scars, decay, and embedded wire) have higher quality, more valuable wood.
- Sale volume. On large sales, fixed logging costs can be spread over larger volumes, so the buyer can pay more per unit volume for the timber.
- Distance to market. The closer the woodlot is to the mill, the lower the hauling costs.
- Site accessibility. The ease with which the timber tract can be reached affects road construction costs.
- Logging difficulty. The steepness of the terrain and soil moisture conditions affect the equipment that can be used and the speed of harvesting.
- Market conditions. Poor markets mean lower timber prices.
- The mill’s log inventory. Buyers often pay more for logs when their inventories are low to ensure continued mill operations.
- Your restrictions on harvesting and skidding techniques or additional work required. Restrictions that protect the site and residual trees tend to increase logging costs. Additional work (such as road or trail construction, trail seeding, construction of a bridge or devices to divert water off roads or trails) increases costs.
A forester can estimate the expected value of a particular sale. However, different buyers may offer substantially different prices for the same timber, depending on their own particular costs and markets. To receive the highest value, contact several potential buyers when you offer timber for sale.