The timber chosen to be harvested is usually referred to as "stumpage" and "stumpage value." The Term "stumpage value" applies to the amount of money you would obtain when those trees are harvested.

 A timber buyer must contemplate various factors when deciding the stumpage value of the trees you are offering for sale. Like your forester, the buyer has to determine the value of the log itself based on these criteria:


  • Diameter
  • Quality
  • Length
  • Species


Next, the buyer must subtract from that value the costs of operations such as:

  • Cutting and skidding the trees
  • Cutting the tree into logs
  • Loading and processing
  • Hauling the logs to the mill
  • Road construction cost to provide access to harvest timber 

In addition to the equipment costs and labor for these operations, the buyer must also include other expenses like workers' comp, social security, equipment depreciation, interest on invested capital, and insurance. The buyer must also think about the accessibility of the trees, the distance to the mill, and the market for the timber.


 Quality and size are crucial in timber; for example, a log that is 12 inches in diameter at the small end and 10 feet long contains about 40 board feet by the Doyle log scale. Likewise, the same 10-foot log grown to a 20-inch diameter can provide 160 board feet. If the timber is veneer quality, the price given per board foot may be up to 2 to 10 times higher. Therefore, adding 8 inches of diameter to a good-quality log raised the tree's value up to 40 times in this model. A well-developed forest management plan will give you details regarding which areas of your property are most productive and which are the least productive for growing timber. Knowing where these areas are will aid you in focusing on future efforts to produce high-quality trees.


 Poor-quality trees may have no value at all as veneer or lumber, while a high-quality tree of the same size may be worth hundreds of dollars. Defects in the tree lower the grade and, consequently, the value of timber.

The most typical defects in logs are:

  • Knots (which are caused by branches)
  • Seams (caused by lightning, disease, frost damage, fire scars, or mechanical injury)
  • Holes caused by birds pecking or insects.
  • A lengthwise split of the wood caused by an injury.
  • Decay.

Another evident and unnecessary defect is metal lodged in the wood. Fences are regularly nailed to fence-row trees, causing the best part of the trees to be worthless. Even just temporarily nailing into a tree can cause severe degradation because a chemical reaction between the metal and the tree sap produces a stain that can permeate the wood.