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​​​​When Do I Harvest My Timber?

All species of trees mature at a different rate. Some are ready for harvest in just a few years and others may take 40 or more years before they are mature enough to harvest.  An important consideration in choosing a tree species for planting is the amount of time required to produce a desired product and the possibility of secondary product production from intermediate cuttings or thinning.

Below is a table listing commonly planted tree species and the average time required to produce various products from each on a favorable site. 

Average time required to produce
SpeciesAverage Years To Produce
Ash, green and whitePulpwood* 30-50 yrs. Logs (handle stock, lumber) 40-70 yrs.
CottonwoodPulpwood* 10-20 yrs. Logs (boxes, crates, lumber, veneer) 30-50 yrs.
Locust, blackPosts 7-15 yrs.
Maple, soft (silver and red)Pulpwood* 20-30 yrs. Logs (lumber and veneer) 40-60 yrs.
Maple, hard (includes sugar)Logs (lumber and veneer) 40-90 yrs.
Oak, uplandPosts 20-30 yrs. Logs (lumber and veneer) 40-80 yrs.
Oak, bottomlandLogs (lumber and veneer) 40-70 yrs.
PecanLogs (lumber and veneer) 40-80 yrs. Nuts 20+ yrs. (75-225 yrs. best)
SweetgumPulpwood* 20-30 yrs. Logs (lumber and veneer) 40-80 yrs.
SycamorePulpwood* 20-30 yrs. Logs (lumber, boxes) 40-70 yrs.
WalnutLogs (lumber and veneer) 40-80 yrs. Nuts 12+ yrs. (30-130 yrs. best)
Poplar, yellow (tulip)Pulpwood* 20-30 yrs. Logs (lumber and veneer) 40-60 yrs.
Pine, loblollyPulpwood* and posts 15-30 yrs. Poles and piling 35-50 yrs. Logs 40-60 yrs.
Pine, shortleafPulpwood* and posts 20-30 yrs. Poles and pilings 40-50 yrs. Logs 40-79 yrs.
Pine, eastern whiteChristmas trees 7-10 yrs. Pulpwood* 15-25 yrs. Logs 40-80 yrs.
Pine, VirginiaChristmas trees 8-15 yrs. Pulpwood* and posts 15-25 yrs. Logs 40-60 yrs.
Redcedar, easternChristmas trees 8-15 yrs. Posts 25-35 yrs. Logs 40-80 yrs.
Pine, ScotchChristmas trees 5-8 yrs.

How Do I Prepare for Selling My Timber?

There are several steps you should follow before selling your timber.

  1. Seek the advice of a professional forester. You may choose to have a forester with the Division of Forestry assist you or you may hire a consulting forester. The division will evaluate your timber and identify (marking) which trees should be removed and which should remain for the overall health of your forest. The service provided by the division is to assist you with implementation of your forest stewardship plan. The purpose of marking is to improve the quality of the stand of timber for the future. All timber markings performed by division foresters are based on sound forest management principals. This service is limited to 50 acres but waivers can be obtained for larger acreage. The cost for this service is $10 per 1,000 board feet.
  2. Sell your timber by bids.  Once your timber is marked, you need to prepare a bid for advertised timber contract. This contract will spell out the details of the timber sale. To view and print a sample contract, click Sample Bid for an Advertised Timber Contract.
  3. After receiving the bids, proceed with hiring a logger, usually the highest bidder, with a written timber sale contract.  All commercial harvesting operations in Kentucky are required to have a Kentucky master logger on site and in charge. A master logger is someone who has completed a three-day training course which includes information about timber harvesting best management practices, proper tree felling and safety. You can check the Kentucky master logger Web site for a list of Kentucky master loggers in your area. 

What is the Logger's Responsibility?

The Kentucky Forest Conservation Act (KRS 149.330 - 149.355) requires that every commercial logging operation in Kentucky have a master logger on site and in charge at all times.  Master loggers must complete the Kentucky Master Logger Program (KML) and learn how to operate efficiently within the framework of constantly changing environmental and safety regulations.  The training is a three-day program, one day per week for a three-week period. Participants must attend and participate in all three days of the program to be designated as a Kentucky master logger.  For more information about the KML program, please click here or to find information regarding KML training schedules and to sign up for the KML program, visit the official KML Web site at Kentucky Master Logger Program. 

What Is the Landowner's Responsibility?

Landowners also need to be familiar with the requirements of the Kentucky Forest Conservation Act and environmental regulations related to forestry operations.  Landowners who cut timber on their own land for non-industrial purposes are not required to have a master logger certificate; however, landowners are responsible for implementing best management practices (BMPs) for the purpose of protecting watersheds as required under the Agriculture Water Quality Act.  For more information on BMPs, please link to the Agriculture Water Quality Act (KRS 224.71-100 to 224.71-140).  

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