How much do pine trees sell for per acre

How Much Money is an Acre of Timber Worth?

Recent swings in wood fiber demand resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are vivid examples of the importance of staying up to date with developing trends in timber markets.

For instance, the huge demand shift for tissue products coupled with the slowdown in construction over the last several months presented an ideal time to market and sell timber from young pine stands. Likewise, there will also be good sales opportunities for older pine sawtimber as new home construction gets back on track over the next few months.

Based on these tremendous shifts in the market, I wanted to draft an update of our most popular blog post ever (How Much Money is an Acre of Timber Worth?) to provide some revised trends, context, and related information about the value of pine timber per acre. Since we’re talking dollars and cents, it’s always instructive to stay abreast of market movements during periods of significant turbulence.

The original blog post analyzed values based on a rolling 12-month time frame. This new update will provide more detail by looking at values over a full 3-year period (2017-2019). In keeping with the format of the original post, the information below includes pine stumpage[i] values from timber sales across the US South for both natural and plantation stands that were harvested either in thinning (selective tree removal) or clearcut (complete harvest) operations.

What Drives Timber Prices?

Before we can determine how much an acre of timber is worth, we first need to understand the law of supply and demand ultimately drives the price of timber. Demand is heavily influenced by location, surrounding mill types, proximity to those mills, and the volume and type of timber products consumed in a given area. The volume and types of products available on a tract of timber will therefore determine the value per acre.

For example, larger pine logs used to manufacture top-quality grades of lumber are more valuable in a region with multiple sawmills than are smaller logs that are converted to woodchips to make pulp and paper products.

Timberland owners in the US South who manage their land for timber production predominately manage for the growth of large pine logs. These pine timber stands most often go through even-aged management regimes where the majority of the trees present are the same age (+/- a couple of years). Even-aged plantation pine stands typically experience 1-2 commercial thinnings and one final commercial harvest, or clearcut. When following this model, thinnings typically remove smaller trees at younger ages and clearcuts remove the remainder of the larger trees at older ages.

As a result, the size of the trees removed during thinnings and clearcuts are quite different and therefore vary in value. In general, pine logs fall into one of the following categories:

  • Logs 5”-7” diameter at breast height (DBH) are considered “pulpwood”
  • Logs 8”-11” DBH are considered “chip-n-saw” (CNS)
  • Logs 12”+ DBH in diameter are considered “sawtimber”

For this new analysis, I analyzed US South prices for plantation pine stands on a per-acre basis by harvest type (thinning vs. clearcut) and age class (less than 15 years old, 16-20 years old, 21-25 years old and 26+ years old). I also analyzed US South prices for natural pine stands by harvest type (concise age class data is unavailable for these harvests).

With that said, let’s explore the question…

How Much Money is an Acre of Timber Worth?


Plantation Pine Stands

Not surprisingly, first thinnings of young timber brought lower prices from 2017-2019 due to the smaller trees that were removed; only pulpwood and smaller logs that fall into the chip-n-saw category are harvested at this time. However, second thinnings in the 21-25 age class typically remove more than just pulpwood, including larger chip-n-saw logs and smaller-diameter sawtimber.

Clearcuts, on the other hand, typically carry a higher price per acre due to the average size of the trees and the volumes of material removed. Most landowners prefer to clearcut their timberland when it is in the 26+ age class, since a majority of the trees have reached the higher-value sawtimber category.

However, it is important to note a clearcut will remove all standing timber on a tract of land, which, even in the case of a managed forest in the 26+ age class, will include both pulpwood and chip-n-saw logs. This mixture of harvested timber products will ultimately affect the price per acre.

Some obvious and expected trends can be detected from the data above, namely, clearcut harvests of older timber are more valuable per acre. However, there are a couple of notable trends as well:

  • Thinnings of CNS and small sawtimber in the 16-25 ages classes command a higher price per ton than pulpwood, but the price differential between the age classes is minimal. This is typically governed by the fact that thinnings in higher age class stands are less common and usually yield less volume per acre, which results in a lower price per acre.
  • Thinning values per acre for CNS and small sawtimber in the 16-25 age classes were up in 2018 but dropped markedly in 2019—a sign that supply of these products outpaced demand in that year.
  • Like thinnings, clearcut values per acre for timber in the higher-value age classes all decreased in 2019, also a sign that supply outstripped demand.


Natural Pine Stands

Individual age class data is unavailable for natural stands of timber, however, the harvest information of natural pine stands illustrates similar price-per-acre ranges as the plantation pine harvest data. There are a couple of considerations to keep in mind when analyzing the natural pine data:

  • Naturally regenerated stands of pine timber often have a higher density of trees than do plantations. During thinnings on natural stands, more material is therefore typically removed, resulting in an increase in volume and price per acre.
  • The clearcut price per acre on natural pine stands is slightly higher due to the presence of some hardwood sawtimber that is harvested along with the pine during a clearcut, which carries a higher price than pine in the current market. Older timber stands also typically allow for larger trees, which can affect the total stand volume or the price per tree. The increased timber volumes combined with a mix of hardwood sawtimber will result in a higher price per acre.

In the chart above, the expected higher stumpage value for clearcut timber sales is evident. Unlike the plantation data, there is a clear trend of increasing stumpage prices over the three-year period for both clearcut and thinning timber sales on natural stands.

For a quick comparison of the two, the table below illustrates clearcut values of sawtimber-sized logs from both plantation and natural timber stands over the last three years.

Pine Timber Values/Acre













*Average of all age classes excluding <15 (clearcut)


Importance of Current, Reliable Pricing Data

This kind of information can be very useful in determining emerging market trends, which can be used to guide operational and strategic planning for both sellers and purchasers of pine timber.

For sellers, a trained forester is essential to provide insight into local market dynamics and help determine an accurate amount of merchantable wood that exists on an acre of timberland. Prices for timber products can vary considerably even from county to county in a specific region based on demand.

As detailed in the data above, there can be significant yearly swings in timber prices based on product type, age class and harvest type. Forest2Market’s direct market price data and specific harvest volume information provide the most complete and accurate timber pricing service in the southern US. Our timber price database is continually updated and contains comprehensive sales data from more than $6 billion in actual timber transactions across the entire region.

[i] “Stumpage” is the term used for the purchase price of standing timber and the rights to harvest that timber. In the South, stumpage is most often quoted in dollars per ton of wood, so we used that measurement to arrive at our values.

Few acres can yield big timber profits

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Landowners with as few as five acres can manage their land for pine timber production, and an often overlooked byproduct can add to the profits.

Tim Traugott, a Mississippi State University Extension Service forestry professor, said in the past landowners needed 20 to 40 acres of land to make timber production economically feasible. With today's market situation and prices, however, five acres of pine trees is more than enough.

"If a landowner plants five acres of pine trees today and manages it the way it should be managed, he or she can expect a return of $25,000-plus -- it could be much more than that -- when it matures at 35 years of age," Traugott said. "Timber buyers routinely purchase tracts of five acres or less."

Case studies show existing pine stands can earn an average of about $100 to $150 per acre per year.

"That doesn't mean you plant the trees and get $100 to $150 a year -- landowners must properly manage the timber, thinning a few times over the 35-year lifespan. When the timber is harvested after 35 years, the profit will equal about $100 to $150 per acre per year," Traugott said.

Traugott said his data is based on timber that is managed as a crop, much like the management techniques used by producers of soybeans, cotton and other traditional crops. Without proper management, pine trees cannot be expected to generate these high profits.

"No matter how many acres you have, you need to manage it like a crop. If landowners seek professional help, manage the timber just like they would any other crop and market the crop properly, a five-acre pine tract will make them a tremendous amount of money," Traugott said.

Small-acreage pine plantations work because good management produces a higher volume of timber. With proper management, a landowner could produce the same volume of timber on a five-acre tract that could be produced on a 25-acre tract that has not been properly managed.

"Landowners need to understand it's not the number of acres that matters; it's the volume of timber on those acres. If you plant in pine trees and manage it properly, you're going to have high timber volumes," Traugott said.

Extension forester Britton Hatcher said selling timber at maturity is not the only opportunity landowners have to make money off pine trees. An often overlooked source of income is the pine straw that gathers on the forest floor each year.

"A lot of people here in the South are looking at a product every day that they don't realize can make them money. It is possible for landowners with pine stands in the right condition and location to make $150 or more per acre per year by selling the pine needles for mulch," Hatcher said. "If a landowner does all the work on five acres, yields 100 bales per acre and wholesales the straw for $3 per bale, those five acres could yield $1,500 per year."

Landowners can choose to harvest the pine straw themselves or contract with a harvester to do the work for them. The benefits of hiring someone else to harvest may outweigh the reduction in overall profit.

"Landowners who contract with someone to harvest their pine straw can make a considerable income, plus they don't have to do the work themselves. Not only can a landowner make money from their straw, but getting the pine straw up also helps to reduce a potential fire hazard," Hatcher said.

Hatcher said managing a pine tree for straw production is not difficult: pine trees inevitably drop the needles, and landowners can simply gather them for baling.

There are two main methods of harvesting pine straw. Buying equipment to mechanically harvest is less labor-intensive but can become rather expensive. A relatively simple and inexpensive method is to purchase a hand baler, which is more labor-intensive.

Pine stands must be at least 6 to 8 years old to produce enough pine straw to make baling economically worthwhile, and baling can extend until the stand's first thinning. Once logging debris is cleared, needle harvest can continue after the thinning.

Needle fall starts in late October or early November and can continue until April. Pine straw yields, depending on harvest method, are estimated at 100 or more bales per acre for healthy, growing pine stands. Landowners who are willing to fertilize have the potential to see more than 250 bales per acre.

"There's a square bale that averages about 15 to 20 pounds and a round bale that weighs about 40 pounds. The square bale has been known to bring as high as $6 or $7 per bale, and the round bale has sold for more than $12 per bale," Hatcher said. "If you're the landowner and you're doing all the work yourself and start wholesaling or retailing it, you're talking about a good bit of money."

Pine straw contains nutrients vital to tree growth, so landowners should fertilize stands with diammonium phosphate to replace the nutrients lost in baling.

Hatcher warned that producers are not allowed to harvest pine straw on lands enrolled in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program.


Contact: Tim Traugott, (662) 226-6000

Plants and seeds | RMK

How many forest plants should be planted per hectare? How often should forest plants be planted?
When planting spruces and birches, an average of 2000 seedlings per hectare is planted, the distance between rows is 2. 5 meters and the distance between plants is 2 meters. When planting pine trees, an average of 4000 seedlings are planted per hectare, the distance between rows is 2 meters and the distance between plants is 1.2 meters.

Are forest spruces suitable for green hedges and how far apart should they be planted?
Suitable. Spruce hedge is planted in one or two rows. A distance of 1 meter is left between the seedlings, and if they are planted in two rows, then the second row is planted in a checkerboard pattern relative to the first, and the distance between the rows should also be 1 meter.

Are low-quality plants that are not on sale given away free of charge?
Low-quality plants are not sold or distributed free of charge, this is prohibited by legal acts.

How many seeds are used to sow one hectare of forest?
Seeding is used in the cultivation of pine and, to a lesser extent, birch. When sowing pine manually, the seeding rate is 0. 6-0.8 kg/ha, with mechanized sowing, depending on the unit used, 0.3-1 kg/ha. The seeding rate for birch is 2-3 kg/ha for manual seeding.

How much seed do you need to buy to grow 10,000 spruce, pine or birch trees?
Pine seeds are consumed during band sowing 1.5-2 g per linear meter, after 2 years you can get 60-80 pine seedlings per meter of sowing row, so you need to buy about 250 g of seeds. Spruce seeds are consumed during band sowing 1.8-2.5 g per linear meter, after 2 years you can get 60-100 spruce seedlings from one meter of the sowing row, so you need to buy about 250 g of seeds. Birch seeds are consumed during scattered sowing of 1-2 g per square meter, birch seedlings are obtained 100-150 pcs. per square meter, thus, you need to buy about 200 g of seeds.

What is the difference between seed from a nursery and seed from a plantation?
Seeds from the nursery are collected from the plantings of seed trees, or nurseries, the plantations grown from them are more productive and of better quality. Seeds from the nursery are mainly used for plant production. Seeds from forest plantations are collected in forest clearings and used primarily for sowing forests.

How to sow spruce, pine and birch seeds to grow plants?
Pine trees are sown on the bed in late April - early May in rows or scattered. When sowing the beds along or across, grooves 4-6 cm wide are prepared, a distance of 15 cm is left between the grooves. The seed leaves 1.5-2 g per linear meter. With broadcast sowing, 7-10 g of seeds per square meter are used. Sowing should be covered with a layer of soil, peat or sand 0.5-1 cm thick. Under normal conditions, pine seeds germinate in 2 weeks.
Spruces are sown in the I-II decade of May on a bed in rows or scattered. Grooves 4-6 cm wide are prepared, a distance of 15 cm is left between the grooves. When sowing in rows, 1.8-2.5 g per linear meter is consumed, with scattered sowing, 8-15 g of seeds per square meter are consumed. Sowing should be covered with a layer of soil, peat or sand 0. 5 cm thick. Spruce seeding can be covered with spruce branches or specially made gratings for this purpose. Under normal conditions, spruce seeds germinate in 3 weeks.
Birch seeds are sown in the I-II decade of May randomly at the rate of 1-2 g of seeds per square meter. To facilitate sowing, seeds can be mixed with sand or sawdust. For sowing, choose calm weather. Birch seeds are not covered with soil. Immediately after sowing, the sowing should be covered with agrofiber or spruce branches so that the wind does not blow away the seeds. Agrofibre helps retain moisture and heat. Under normal conditions, birch seeds germinate in 3 weeks.

Growing a fir tree, how to grow a fir tree - Proposition

On the eve of the New Year, asked the specialists of the separate division of NUBiP "Boyar Forest Experimental Station" how they grow New Year's trees, which are now sold at Christmas tree markets.

from cones to seed

As you know, the tree begins with a bump. The same is true of pine, which the population is more willing to use as a New Year's tree than the actual Christmas tree: resinousness allows the cut pine to not lose its needles so quickly.

According to Nikolai Lukyanchuk, reforestation engineer at the Boyar forest research station, for Christmas tree markets, they grow common spruce or European spruce, as well as common pine. Prickly or blue spruce is grown here as ornamental plants. And as a New Year's tree, they try to grow Crimean pine, which, according to M. Lukyanchuk, is better suited for these purposes in terms of crown shape and decorative characteristics than Scotch pine, traditional for our region.

Cones are harvested during clear cuttings. After all, for breeding trees, cones must be plucked from the tree. Of course, it is more convenient to do this when the trees are being felled. Therefore, pine cones are plucked from freshly cut trees, selecting the formed ones (and on pine, cones form for 2 years).

It is more difficult with fir cones, because clear-cutting of spruce is not carried out here: there are no spruce forests in the region - in Ukraine they are located mainly in the Carpathians. Therefore, if you need spruce cones, you have to adjust the lift.

Spruce cones are harvested in October-November, pine cones - from November to January. As M. Lukyanchuk said, the plan for collecting coniferous seeds is brought to the forestry enterprises. For example, for the Boyar LDS, such a plan is 1 kg. This means that the cones need to be collected 50 kg.

Cones plucked from trees are dried at a temperature of 47-49 °C in special dryers. In Boyarka, such devices run on wood, and in general, more advanced electric dryers are also produced. From the dried cones, the seeds spill out on their own. Then the seeds are dewinged, cleaned - and they are ready for sowing in the nursery.

Seedling nursery

You can sow coniferous seeds even in the snow - in the one that already melts in the spring. During the melting of snow, the seed is wetted, and this stimulates germination. But usually, a Christmas tree and a pine are sown in the ground after the snow has melted, but early in the spring. In this case, the seeds are soaked in water for a day, adding Humisol and disinfectants against fungal diseases, and then dried.

For these crops, the soil also requires preparation - milling and cultivation. In Boyarskaya LOS, after a mill has passed through the site, it is leveled with a rake, since before sowing conifers, the site needs to be perfectly leveled, and the area under the Christmas tree here is quite small - only 5 acres. More is allocated here for pine, but not by much - somewhere around 40-50 acres.

Sowing is carried out with a manual seeder using a belt method with row spacing of 15+15+15+40 cm. The sowing density along the length is 200-300 seeds per linear meter. In this case, 80-100 standard (i.e., those that have thrown out a kidney) seedlings are obtained per linear meter. Pine seedlings are grown for a year, fir trees - 2 years, because they grow slowly: if after the 1st year a pine seedling has a height of 10-12 cm, then fir trees - 3-5.

According to Alexander Shevchuk, the chief forester of the Boyar VOC, it is better to grow seedlings in a film greenhouse. Therefore, seedlings ate here and grow up. An important advantage of growing seedlings in a greenhouse, he calls the fact that they arranged drip irrigation there, which allows not only to irrigate small trees in the heat or drought that happens more often, but also to feed them by fertigation. First, nitrogen (nitrate) and potash fertilizers are applied through drip irrigation, later, during lignification, conifers are fed with nitroammophos, potassium, calcium, microelements and Humisol.

When conifers are in the nursery, they require careful and labor-intensive care. Twice a month the weeds are cut through and the aisles are loosened, all by hand. Seedlings are fed with nitroammophos. In addition, young trees are attacked by May beetle larvae, gnawing young roots, and various fungal diseases, such as Fusarium. Therefore, to combat soil pests, grooves are made, which are spilled with a solution of Aktara or other preparations. At the same time, experts frankly regret the ban on drugs that were used against soil pests before, even DDT - he shot the larvae of the May beetle just perfectly. And against fungal diseases, monthly preventive treatments are carried out with foundationazole and other drugs. Because if the disease has already appeared in the nursery, significant attacks cannot be avoided.

Trees grow in the nursery

One-year-old pines and two-year-old fir trees are transplanted to the nursery in early spring, where they grow until they are sent to the Christmas tree markets. There are several such nurseries in Boyarskaya LOS: in different nurseries there are trees of different ages. The area of ​​one nursery is usually 0.5-1 ha. On the eve of the new year 2018, Boyarskaya LOS grew 28.2 thousand New Year trees in such nurseries on a total area of ​​10.6 hectares.

Trees are planted in the nursery according to the scheme, usually 1x2.5 m, sometimes 1x2 and even 1x1 m. Thus, the planting density is 4-5 thousand plants/ha. As for a pine, this is a sparse planting, which is carried out specifically so that the tree forms a fairly wide crown. For example, for planting in the forest for logging, pine is planted in a nursery with row spacing of 70 cm so that it stretches better and forms a straighter trunk.

Care in the nursery is limited to manual weeding of the rows a couple of times a year for the first 3 years and mowing between the rows with hedge trimmers twice a year. Well, trees are planted in place of the fallen ones. The average loss of fir trees for the entire growing cycle is 20%, but in dry years it increases sharply. The most difficult for a coniferous tree is the first year of life: it is believed that when it has lived normally for a year, then in the future it is unlikely that anything will happen to it. Chemical treatments are no longer carried out in the nursery. Although, according to the specialists of the Boyarskaya LOS, recently the horse beetle, which, with the increase in the aridity of the climate, has become a disaster for pine plantations, attacks not only mature, but also young trees.

The Christmas tree business suffers from competition from "freebies"

It takes at least 6 years to grow a pine tree to a marketable size of a New Year's tree. During this time, the pine tree grows to a height of about 1 m. A 7-8-year-old tree has a height of 1.5-2 m. need 9-10 years.

The nursery is often cut down not completely, but first thinned out (for example, cut down through one tree), and the rest is left for another year. The most popular trees, according to the specialists of the Boyarskaya LOS, are 1-1.5 m high. The caliber of 1.5-2, and even more so above 2 m, is too big for the current premises.

For the entire cycle of growing Christmas trees, the cost per 1 hectare, according to the estimates of the Boyar VOC, is almost 29 thousand hryvnias. They sell Christmas trees from forestries by self-delivery at 75 UAH / piece up to 1 m high, 100 UAH each - 1-1.4 m high and 125 UAH 1.5-1.9 m high. sell relatively few Christmas trees - less than 1300 pieces. This is due to the fact that a certain number of years ago there were relatively few landings, and due to hot and dry weather there were considerable attacks. Usually, boyar foresters sell 2-3 thousand Christmas trees, and by the next New Year they expect that the marketable size will grow from 3 to 5 thousand.

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