Make the most of your forest by mastering timber marketing

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LONDON, Ohio – A few acres of trees may look like a gold mine to some, but it’s important to see past the dollar figures when considering a timber harvest.
While the goal of selling timber is to make money, rushing through the process can result in a damaged forest and less-than-desirable profits.
During a presentation at Farm Science Review, Dave Apsley, Ohio State University Extension forestry specialist, said the best way to start is by getting assistance from a professional. Most woodland owners don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to harvesting timber, so get some advice from someone who does.
Apsley recommends the new Call Before You Cut program in Ohio, which helps woodland owners find professional foresters and master loggers.
When marketing timber, it’s important for woodland owners to take inventory of their woodlot. Determine the species and quality of trees to be harvested. Mark the trees to be harvested and know the approximate volume and value of those trees.
A good marketing strategy also includes getting at least three bids, Apsley said. Your timber is worth whatever the highest bidder will pay, so don’t sell yourself short by only getting one bid. Advertise and set a minimum bid. If no one is willing to pay your price, don’t be afraid to wait. Markets change and so will the bids.
Once you select a company to harvest your timber, get a timber sale contract. The contract should include things like items for sale, dollar amount and method of payment, duration of contract, loss of timber and liability and financial responsibility.
Apsley warned against select cutting and diameter-limit cutting. By taking the best and leaving the rest, it can actually take longer to produce future timber than with a clear cut.
Unplanned and poorly administered harvests can negatively impact a forest for hundreds of years. And it falls back on the woodland owner to correct any damage done during a harvest.
“If that logger is gone, it’s coming back on you,” Apsley said.
Overall, the forestry specialist recommends looking to a public or private forester to help with these areas. He added that knowing your options and getting help can make a big difference in a timber harvest.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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