Harvesting Operations and Timber Sales
The primary objective of a harvesting operation is to make the harvest as economically feasible as possible while sustaining yields of forest products, attaining full productivity, maximizing use of the extracted material, and providing the highest returns to the landowner.
See our Harvesting Methods page for additional harvesting information.
Check our Bulletin Board for the most recent Timber Price Trend Graph.
- harvesting: removing products from the forest to make room for a new crop
- logging: felling timber to be removed from the forest
- harvest cutting: felling a timber crop in a final, single cutting (as in even-aged management), or a series of regeneration cuttings (as in uneven-aged management)
- extraction: removing timber from place of growth
- skidding: hauling logs by skidding them along the ground
- forwarding: moving logs from stump to landing
- transportation: hauling logs to a mill
There are 7 basic steps in a logging operation:
- Felling or cutting the trees
- Delimbing the main stem
- Bucking or cutting the stem into logs
- Forwarding trees or logs to a landing (sometimes before bucking)
- Sorting and loading individual logs or pieces onto trucks
- Transporting logs or pieces to a mill
- Unloading at the mill yard
During a logging operation, we want to maintain the productive capacity of the site and
- Insuring continued vegetative cover - "trees after trees"
- Maintaining stable soils, safeguarding the rooting medium and preventing siltation
- Safeguarding the basic landforms to prevent alteration of drainage and massive soil movement
See: Florida's Silviculture Best Management Practices for more information on protecting water quality during forestry operations.
The Logging Plan
The logging plan is the "blueprint" by which a harvesting operation is carried out. The plan usually shows truck roads, both existing and to be constructed; the landings to which logs will be yarded for loading onto trucks; and the boundaries of areas from which timber will be skidded to each landing. The plan also specifies which units or areas will be logged and the logging method planned for each.
A very helpful component of the logging plan is the map, which shows the location of the tract, the existing and proposed roads, the areas to be cut, the cutting system, and the regeneration methods proposed.
Logging Planning Data
The first step in planning a harvest operation is to collect all available data relating to the tract. These may include some or all of the following:
- topographic maps showing the topographic contour of the land
- timber type maps showing boundaries of species, species composition, size class, and stocking of each type - this map is usually made in connection with the timber cruise
- geological maps show the geological structure, parent rock and land forms, and the nature of the soil materials - these may be available from the state geology department
- soil survey maps and reports are made by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and other state agencies
- Aerial Photographs: Soil Conservation Service and the Florida Forest Service have, or have access to, aerial photographs.
- Route Survey Notes: the plans and profiles of adjacent areas are helpful in road system planning. Route surveys that may be available include highways, county roads, forest roads, power lines, and pipelines.
- Timber Stand Data: may include forest inventory data. Where single tree or group selection is practiced, marking and enumeration of marked trees should be done before the road system is planned.
- Cost Data: all available logging cost data that are applicable to the tract should be assembled.
Timber Sales and Marketing
Marketing timber involves selling forest products in a competitive market to get the best return on your investment or to meet other objectives. This process requires some planning and pre-sale preparation before you advertise or talk to prospective buyers. Timber sales should be approached in a business-like manner to ensure that both the seller and buyer are satisfied with the results. It is highly recommended that landowners get the help of a professional forester to sell timber. See these publications or pages for all the steps of the process and how to get help:
University of Florida Extension Publications
Florida Forest Stewardship
Florida Forest Service
Stumpage Appraisal - Know What You're Selling
The objective of appraising stumpage is to estimate the monetary value of standing timber as accurately as possible. The value of your timber first depends on what products you have:
General Product Specifications for Southern Pines and Hardwood Product Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) Pulpwood 6 inches + Chip-n-saw 8 - 11 inches Sawtimber 12 inches +
Products specifications for plylogs and poles vary by region and may not be comparable by region or time. See the Forest Product Volume / Weight Conversion Factors on About.com for conversion information.
These elements are usually accounted for when determining stumpage value:
- logging costs
- milling costs
- selling price
- profit and risk
selling price − (logging costs + milling costs) = stumpage + margin for profit and risk
Stumpage appraisal should be done by an experienced professional. Contact a consulting forester or public forester for more information. See our Consulting Foresters page for a list of consultants by region. Read the Extension publication, Selecting a Consulting Forester , for tips on selecting a consultant.
See these sites for more information and services associated with selling timber: