Multiplying Value-Added page 2Efficient harvesting as forest owners was emphasized throughout the session.
This intensive training session began with Mike felling a group of dead and dying oak timber. A small class allows total personal training as Mike skillfully dealt with the challenges of selective felling. I always save the toughest trees for Mike to cut when we have field days, and every time he rises to the occasion. Then he challenges me right back to make something of value from those ugly trees.
Oak wilt disease got me into the sawmill business, and salvaging the trees that die each year supplies much of our annual harvest. Prompt salvage is slowing the spread of this serious fungus amongst us. We skidded the logs to the trail with the Farmi winch on the Ford tractor, using the Future Forestry Products Fetching arch. The old Iron Mule prehauler picked up the logs at the trail and carried them to back the sawmill.
We took a batch of logs with no commercial value - small diameter, dead, curved, defective, hollow - and produced three large piles of nice lumber using the headsaw, edger, and resaw. One nice oak log was quartersawn to get the extra value from this sawing method.
We can gain in so many ways compared to a commercial harvest:
1. Most forest owners who sell timber with the help of a professional forester - mark the timber, solicit competitive bids, and take a lump sum offer. A good commercial logger will get 15-25% more logs than the Scribner tree scale estimates for hardwood timber. (Guess how much the forest owner gets paid for this over-run??) When we cut our own timber, we get that bonus and just add it to our pile of wood!
2. As forest owners, we get another 25%+ over-run compared to a commercial logger when we cut very low stumps, don't buck off the butt log for center defects, utilize some of the small diameter, curved, and dead logs, and utilize sound crotch wood. Did I mention the commercially worthless species that make spectacular flooring??
3. Thin kerf sawmills - and planning ahead to make flooring - gives us another huge over-run when we turn the logs into lumber. We gain another 25% lumber bonus over the Scribner log scale, then reduce our manufacturing waste and costs by cutting boards the exact width needed for our flooring. Oh yeah, one more bonus - when you sell an 8 foot log, they cut it 8 foot and six inches long (but does the forest owner get paid for that extra length called "trim"? NO!) With careful drying in the solar cycle kiln, we get about 8 foot and four inches of sellable flooring - just a little more icing on the cake!
Then after we produce about twice as much lumber from each tree than most forest owners are paid for, we sell it direct to a customer for 10 to 100 times the market's stumpage value!! How do you sell your timber?