Six Steps Involved in a Successful Timber Sale

Are you interested in having a timber sale? This article outlines the basic steps to follow to make your timber sale a successful one. All of the steps below raise questions you need to answer. These questions will help you plan or set goals to manage your timber investment and make your timber sale more successful.

Six Steps Involved in a Successful Timber Sale

•    Purpose of Sale
•    Identify Area to be Harvested  & Clearly Mark Boundary of Sale
•    Type & Timing of Sale
•    Inventory Products and Volumes
•    The Sale
•    Follow Up After the Harvest

Purpose of Sale
Purposes of a timber sale range from timber management objectives, wildlife management, aesthetics to just needing some cash. At various stages of timber growth, timber needs thinning to keep it growing and healthy. Often there is some type of forest health issue dictating a harvest. The best type of timber stand for a particular type of wildlife may require a harvest to manipulate habitat best suited for that species of wildlife. We are seeing a growing demand for aesthetics in transitional type properties for residential use. Sometimes landowners just need some cash for various reasons and timber harvest is one way to generate income. Understanding the purpose or objective for the sale is the first step in the process to determining what, where, when and how the harvest will be conducted. Many times the purpose has multiple objectives. We then design a harvest or management plan to accommodate the goals or objectives of the landowner.

Identify Area to be Harvested & Clearly Mark Boundary of Sale
Based on the objective, we identify the area of interest and begin implementation of the management or harvest plan. The plan should clearly follow the purpose for the sale. The area to harvest should be very clearly defined. Sale boundaries should be marked with paint or flagged. A sale map should be available showing sale lines, access, log decks and any special stipulations concerning harvest.

Type & Timing of Sale
The type of timber sale will be dictated by the products for sale, purpose of the sale and the timing of the sale. We have another post under “Interesting Reads” on that identifies the types of timber sales for you to review. Timing has more to do with landowner needs. Assuming the sale does not have to be immediate, we can time the market, weather and other factors that may have a bearing on timing of the sale. Timing issues can include a glut of timber on the market or, conversely, very little, a dry site that could bring a better price in wetter periods, or a wet site that has to be cut in dry times. There are many factors involved in how and when we market a timber sale.

Inventory Products and Volumes
The type of sale will determine if the timber needs inventorying. The inventory will provide the volumes of the various products. Usually on high value products of fairly good size, sales need inventorying so you know what you are selling. The products and volumes are something we like to disclose when we have a bid sale of a clear-cut (complete harvest). Sometimes we do this on a thin or select cut harvest. It is always important to know what you are selling on any type of sale. This gives the buyers an idea of what products and volumes available in the sale. We have found timber buyers are more apt to provide a bid with good information on a professionally managed timber sale.

The Sale
The sale is conducted through the bidding process. Sometimes it is a formal bid sale and sometimes it is very informal. The products, volumes and valuation of the sale have a bearing on how the sale is handled. All sales are conducted professionally and ethically whether it is a large or small sale. The buyers present their bids to us on the products and area we have offered for sale. At that point, we determine if these bids are acceptable based on our evaluation of market conditions at the time of sale. If the highest bid is acceptable, we execute a contract stipulating how the harvest is to be conducted along with some other items that need to be addressed with any sale. Any special stipulations need to be provided to buyers before they bid and will be entered into the contract. We handle all the details of the sale, contract and monitoring of the harvest.

Follow Up After the Harvest
After the harvest is complete, we give the final inspection to be certain logging is completed per the terms of the logging agreement. It is then time to plan for reforestation of the harvested area on pine sites. Most hardwood sites naturally regenerate themselves. We consider soils, competing vegetation (both herbaceous and woody completion), seedling type and timing of the various reforestation components. Some pine species are more tolerant to herbicides than other. Certain woody species need specific site preparation. We coordinate all of these management prescriptions for the landowner. By the end of the winter planting season, the landowner will have a newly planted stand of timber growing for future income.

As you can see, there is considerable planning necessary to complete the six steps in a successful timber sale. We have followed these steps on many timber sales of all sizes from 10 acres sales to several thousand acre sales. We would welcome the opportunity to assist you in making your timber sale successful.