ALCS Unveils 'Powerful New Timber Meme'
November 15, 2020
"I took this picture in a stand of 120-year-old mountain oak in central Pennsylvania. The landowner had waited to cut the timber for what he thought was a good amount of time, to maximize his profit, when in fact the timber stand was actually well past its prime and was beginning to seriously regress in quality and quantity," says Josh First, president of ALCS. "The timber should have been harvested twenty years prior."
"While this meme is intended to be kind of humorous and tongue in cheek, the fact is that northeastern hardwood trees are living things, with lifespans not too different than a human's best expected longevity. At eighty years of age, most hardwood trees growing in a well stocked forest are really coming into their prime, and some of the inferior or damaged ones will be ready to carefully harvest, either for saw timber or for firewood. With a couple exceptions, at a hundred years, eastern hardwood species should be ready to harvest, regardless of their diameter. The 16-inch red oak in this picture was looking great when we viewed it the year before, but in just twelve months the woodpeckers had created a hotel out of it and the tree had lost all commercial value," says First.
The message of the meme is don't wait too long to cut mature timber. Signs that your timber stand is beginning to regress are large dead limbs falling off the trees, trees suddenly dying and quickly shedding their bark, dark stains or weeping spots in the bark around the base of the tree, and woodpecker holes.
"We have cut huge oak trees that looked like they were going to produce beautiful lumber, only to find that they are hollow inside," says First.
"If you have a question about your timber stand's viability, call a consulting forester, a PA DCNR service forester, or a timber buyer. Each one of these people will give you slightly different advice, because each is coming at the prospective project from a different place. But if your stand is too mature, and is about to become wildlife habitat, each one of these people will let you know," says First
ALCS buys standing timber, and unless the landowner really wants to do a diameter limit cut, which we do not recommend except in limited cases of heavily stocked mature forests, we aim for more aggressive harvests that remove undesirable species like red maple and black birch, improve native hardwood forest regeneration, and create superior wildlife habitat.