Selling Walnut Timber

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Published on: Jan. 18, 2013

understand what is expected during the harvest process. This will help you make the final decision of who you want harvesting your trees.

Economics may limit the number of loggers interested in bidding. Loggers must consider distance, time, equipment costs, value of the wood, and any risks they may be taking. Risk is one of the reasons a tree near a home generally can’t be sold. Within city limits a city business license is often required (which a logger probably does not have). The large amount of risk associated with harvesting the tree seldom outweighs the profit. Even if the tree is worth a few hundred dollars, it may not be worth the risk if the tree might damage a house or powerline. The potential for the tree to have metal, or some other blade-damaging item, in it also increases in trees located near a house.

Create a Contract

Once you have decided on a logger, you need a written contract. A contract will protect both you and the logger from any misunderstandings. One of the primary components of the contract is how and when you are to receive the money for your trees.

The safest and easiest way to get your money is called a “lump sum.” This method of payment requires the logger to pay you the full price he offered for the timber — generally received before any trees are cut. Many loggers will want to harvest your timber on “shares” because it guarantees he will not lose money on the sale. Cutting on shares means you have agreed on a percentage split of the profits. The profit is determined by the payment the logger receives at the sawmill. Although it is common for oak sales to be split 50/50, a walnut sale should have a higher percentage going to the landowner.

That percentage will increase with the increase in quality of the timber. Sixty percent to the landowner and 40 for the logger is common in lower-quality timber sales. Percentages can go up to 80 percent to the landowner and 20 percent to the logger on really high-value timber sales. Timber sales should be supervised by both the landowner and a forester. Periodically checking the progress of a sale will help ensure the contract is being followed. It also conveys that you are concerned about your remaining forest, soil, and property.

Not every black walnut tree is worth thousands of dollars, but they are still an important part of our forest industry and valuable to landowners. Knowing more about the sale of timber can make a big difference in your profit and how satisfied you are after the harvest.

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