Standing Timber Prices For Loggers

As a logger and harvester of standing timber, there are several factors to consider when determining the standing timber prices you will pay. You first need to determine the costs of harvesting your logs. If you have been logging for a year or more all you need to do is look over your books for the past year. Take the whole year and average out your costs. If you have records for more than one year, it would be a good idea to average in those costs as well.

Figuring Costs and Profits

planks of light timber
Stack of sawn prepared timber, spruce wood planks or studs, for use. Mint Images - Paul Edmondson / Getty Images

Take the number of board feet that you harvested over a period of time. Now figure out all of your costs of operation over that period of time. Include things like fuel, maintenance, equipment purchases and payments, employees, and so on. Use your cost figure and divide that by the number of board feet you produced.

For example, let's say over a year's time you harvested 1 million board feet of logs. It cost you $100,000 to harvest that million board feet.

Your formula would look like this:

$100,000 / 1,000,000 bf = $0.10 per board foot in cost.

Now to transfer that into cost per thousand board feet simply multiply $0.10 by 1,000. So your total cost is $100 per thousand board feet.

$0.10 x 1,000 = $100 per thousand board feet.

Of course, this example has very rough figures. Hopefully, your costs are much less than $100 per thousand board feet.

This way of calculating cost will help in determining the cost of many unknown circumstances that show up on a logging job. By taking an average over a long period of time, you can have a good rule of thumb idea of costs when it comes to things like equipment breakdowns and rough landing conditions. Without these figures, it would be hard to determine the different variables in a logging job.

Finding a Mill to Buy Your Logs

Woodworker looking at large log going through band saw
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The next step is to determine the amount a sawmill will pay for the logs that you harvest. Contact several sawmills in your area, let them know that you are a logger and will have logs for sale. Ask them what logs they have a need for and what they will pay for grade, pallet, and veneer logs. You will find that different sawmills specialize in different types of material.

Some mills do strictly pallet material, and some do only grade. Other sawmills may even want one species of timber. Most likely you will end up with several sawmills that you sell logs to. You might have a load of upper logs that go to a pallet mill, a few loads of grade logs that go to a grade mill, a few logs that will end up as veneer and will go to a veneer buyer, and so forth.

Bidding The Timber

Pulp wood stacked in processing yard, British Columbia, Canada.
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The information you gather from contacting sawmills will be valuable when you are bidding on a piece of timber. Take careful notes when you walk the timber land, keep track of how much veneer, grade, and pallet material is there. Doing this due diligence will prevent you from paying too much for a piece of timber. It will also help you to present a competitive bid on a high-value logging job.

Now that you have all this information you can figure out what you can pay for standing timber. Let's say a mill offers to pay you $500 per thousand for red oak grade logs. Start with that figure $500 then take the $500 and figure in the profit margin you need.

Now subtract your cost of harvesting at $100 per thousand bf.  The result will be what you would pay per thousand board feet for the standing red oak grade material.

You can use the same formula for the pallet and veneer logs. Simply change the numbers according to what the mill will pay for these logs.