Management, Silviculture & Marketing Forest Products
The year is coming to a close and the hype about the super cycle did showed some improvement in the log market but we did not see the all-time highs many expected. The market is projected to continue improving during the next 3 to 5 years as it follows the housing market which continues to improve. As the market strengthens and will eventually hit some very favorable prices in the years to come, it will be important for landowners to begin planning their harvest strategies and to implement silvicultural practices that will improve and/or maintain the health and vigor of their forest. In the past when prices hit all-time highs you can expect strong prices for all logs. Small sawlogs such as chip n saw and tonwood provide special opportunities to apply silvicultural practices in an economic efficient manner. High log prices provide opportunities for landowners to conduct thinnings and selective harvest to improve species composition, forest health and spacing of desired trees. Increase prices also provide income for reinvestment into the resource such as site preparation, vegetation management, tree planting and pre-commercial thinning on non-merchantable overstocked stands.
Many landowners have Forest Management Plans or Stewardship Plans and now would be a good time to review those goals and objectives to determine the operational needs that would be implemented to meet those goals. Most management plans have inventories which identify tree species, average diameter, average tree height and volumes per acre. These metrics should be evaluated to determine what you would like the forest to look like into the future and to maintain your goals and objectives of forest health, wildlife habitat, access and regeneration efforts in keeping the land fully productive for future growth.
If access is an issue you may want to evaluate road building cost as well as any culverts and road maintenance that may be needed. Different types of harvest require logging contractors with equipment that can meet the objectives while utilizing all the products produced during harvest. Planning your harvest early provides an opportunity to contact and schedule logging contractors that can best meet your needs particularly in thinning and selective harvest. Identifying harvest stands on your property requires preparing the sale area which may entail marking harvest boundaries, marking individual trees, road layout and needs to provide sufficient time to advertise and market your products during key periods when demand is up. The excitement about a super cycle did not materialize in the short term but in the next 3 to 5 years the expectation is that log prices will continue to increase and reached very favorable prices and to capitalize on the market, implement the planning and preparation now so that you can take advantage of the cyclic nature of the log market.
Vincent Corrao is the president of Northwest Management, Inc.