Before You Sell Your Timber

Years of growth are accumulated in a mature timber stand. The annual income from all those years is frequently marketed in a single transaction. Too much is at stake to sell timber without having accurate knowledge of products, volume, and value and without knowing how to establish the next crop for continued production.

Drought Sales of Timber

During periods of drought some farmers view timber sales as a way to improve their cash flow. Selling timber during periods of economic distress is a good way to generate income, but it is important to realize that such sales may also result in a tax liability. The amount of liability depends on the sales volume, the basis or cost of the timber sold, and the seller’s other taxable income as a farmer.

A Guide for Virginia Forest Landowners

As a private forest landowner, you are a vital link in the sustainability of Virginia’s forest resources. Your land provides many benefits to all Virginians, including wood products, wildlife habitat, clean air and water, and recreational opportunities. Because forest landowners like you own and control three-quarters of the state’s forestland, the decisions you make regarding your forest today will impact the quality of Virginia’s forests for many years. The purpose of this publication is to provide you with some basic information on forest management and specifics on how timber harvesting should be conducted to ensure the sustainability of your forest resources.

Harvesting Southern Pines

Most southern pine timber is harvested by independent logging contractors. Lesser amounts are harvested by logging crews employed directly by larger corporate wood-using organizations and by landowners themselves. Although the chances are that you will not harvest timber yourself, an understanding of what is involved in harvesting will better enable you to deal with prospective timber purchasers and work with the successful bidder for your timber.

Landowner’s Guide to Timber Sale Contracts

A written timber sale agreement or contract is generally the preferable and safest method of selling timber. A written contract is a legally binding document that protects both the buyer and the seller (the landowner) from misunderstandings that may develop in the absence of such an agreement. A contract will verify the seller’s ownership of the timber to be sold and the absence of liens or other liabilities. There is little legal recourse with verbal agreements. By negotiating a contract, both parties are likely to work out difficulties before they occur and be more pleased with the transaction.

Logging Efficiency and Cost

Productivity of logging operations increased steadily through the 1970s and 1980s as mechanized logging operations expanded to include most types of logging. Since the early 1990s, productivity growth slowed as few new technologies and methods were introduced and adopted in the United States. Also, during that time, logging has become a more complex business with the expansion of rules and regulations, the adoption of certification, and a more competitive marketplace for wood products.

Selling Your Timber? Don’t Make an Uninformed Decision!

It is risky to sell timber without having a good idea of its value and the current market conditions. Do what the pros do—sell your timber using a registered forester! Selling timber is like trading stocks and bonds. Seek sound professional advice and assistance to know when and how to sell.

Timber Sale Agreements

A timber sale often involves a substantial sum of money, not to mention that such a sale is something the typical landowner does infrequently. Anyone considering a timber sale should not rely on personal judgement, but should confer, instead, with a forester or an attorney experienced in timber sales.

Timber Sale and Harvesting Contracts

A timber sale can be a source of great satisfaction to a landowner, or it may be a source of surprise, frustration, and stress. Unfortunately, the latter is often true for landowners who make timber sales infrequently.

Timber Sales: A Planning Guide for Landowners

Learning from experience can be very expensive when it comes to timber sales, many of which are once- or twice-in-a-lifetime occurrences. Years of growth and value are accumulated in a mature timber stand, and the combined annual income from all those years is frequently marketed in a single transaction. When and how you sell your timber can influence how much money you make, your overall financial plans, the cost of forest regeneration, and other management objectives. Too much is at stake for you to sell timber without an understanding of the markets and of the quality and quantity of your timber. There are no daily market price reports for standing timber (stumpage), nor are there any government support prices. Demand and price for many timber products fluctuate widely. Size, quality, and species of timber are also highly variable. Specialized knowledge is required to identify tree species and to estimate volume and value within standards accepted by local markets. This publication offers tips on marketing and selling, timber terminology, examples of timber sale agreements, and advice on seeking professional help from a consulting forester. By using this information, you can make your next (or first) timber sale both a pleasant and a profitable experience.

When to Harvest Timber? Now…, or Later?

Some forestland owners decide to harvest timber at a particular time because they are approached by a timber buyer with an offer that looks too good to pass up. Others simply might need money to tide them over a difficult time or to finance an emergency need. Decisions taken under these circumstances are not always optimal, but they do reinforce the point that the decision about "when to harvest" is controlled more by economics than by almost any other factor.

Wildlife and Forest Stewardship

Developing forestland to continually produce timber and provide wildlife habitat requires an active management plan. Forest stewardship, the process of managing all of the forest’s natural resources together, enables us to conserve our forest resources, including timber, wildlife, soil, and water. Forestry and wildlife management are not only compatible, they are interrelated. Managing for wildlife habitat can even improve forest productivity. This publication describes the basic concepts of management, showing how forestry operations affect wildlife habitat.