Harvesting Timber: The Future of Your Woodland

As you plan a timber sale, it is easy to focus on what can be taken out of the stand.  However, as a landowner committed to the stewardship of your land, you need also to be thinking about what will be left behind.  The trees that remain after the harvest are the ones that you’ll see every time you walk through the woods.  They’re also the seed source for your future woods.

Hardwood logpile in stand
Eli Sagor photo

Every timber harvest should leave the woodland in a better condition than it was beforehand.  This can happen in many different ways.  Partial harvests should be designed to remove less desirable species and trees of relatively poor form.  This will focus growing space on the best of your woodland, improving its vigor, quality, and value.  Partial harvests are also a great way to grow big trees quickly.

The same concept applies to clearcut stands as well.  Well planned and executed timber harvests can greatly improve the productive capacity of the woodlot.  But details do matter.  For example, harvesting aspen in the winter leads to more vigorous new growth.

Why?  In spring and summer, most of the tree’s nutrients are in the growing parts of the tree:  stem, twigs, and leaves.  In winter, nutrients move from leaves to roots, where they’re stored until the next growing season.  If you harvest in winter, these nutrients will be available for a fast, vigorous new growth.  If you harvest in summer, the nutrients will be lost.

Details like this can have important impacts on your timber harvest experience.  Before you harvest, talk to a forester who can help you plan ahead for a successful sale.

Eli ‘s work addresses Minnesota forest ecology & management. He’s based in St Paul.

You may also like