Submitted by Rayonier
Originally published on Rayonier.com
We put decades of work into each stand of trees, all leading to this day. Join us “behind the scenes” as we harvest them and turn them into logs destined to become all kinds of products you depend on every day.
Did you know a single tree might be used to produce multiple products, such as lumber, plywood and paper pulp?
A harvest operation does not simply involve taking trees and loading them onto trucks. Rather, they are carefully inspected one-by-one, sorted by size and quality, cut to specific lengths, and sent to different facilities depending on what they are destined to become.
The most important role in a harvest is that of the loader operator. With a trained eye, he or she can determine how to sort the logs without ever stepping out of the cab of the loader. The operator must judge the logs’ diameter, straightness and overall form to determine how to cut them and what products they will ultimately become.
ONE TREE MAKES MANY PRODUCTS
During a recent harvest, Timber Marketing Manager Rusty Cobb walked the length of one tree that had been set aside for demonstration purposes. He explained that single tree would be cut into three pieces:
A loader operator makes the same type of determination for thousands of trees during the course of the harvest. Different log sorts will be loaded onto different trailers, which will then be driven to various mills or export yards.
TYPES OF PRODUCTS SOUTHERN YELLOW PINES BECOME
Here are the products Rayonier’s Southern Yellow Pine forests are typically sorted into, in order from most valuable to least:
THE RESULT OF MORE THAN 20 YEARS OF WORK
So how did the trees get to this point? Here’s a quick overview of the work our foresters put into it:
As a Timber Marketing Manager, it’s Rusty’s job to make that 20+ year investment pay off. To do that, he estimates what types of products are in the stand of trees even before the harvest begins. He does this by measuring plots in the timber stand (see his demonstration of a timber cruise here). Once he has an idea of the value, he can either directly sell the timber to various facilities, hiring a logging crew to harvest and deliver the timber, or he can sell the standing timber to a dealer who will then manage the logging and sales to the mills.
What Happens After a Timber Harvest
Once the harvest is complete, planning for the next generation of trees begins. If needed, the land will be prepared through raking or chopping debris to break it down; plowing the soil into long mounds if the water table is high; and then planting the next stand of trees, ideally within a year of the harvest. Then the cycle begins all over again, with foresters nurturing that forest for another 20+ years until it’s time to harvest again. Laid out like a patchwork quilt in the forest, each stand of trees is at a different stage in the lifecycle, allowing a richly diverse habitat for the wildlife of the forest and ensuring a steady supply of wood for generations to come.
Rayonier is a leading timberland real estate investment trust with assets located in some of the most productive softwood timber growing regions in the United States and New Zealand. As of June 30, 2022, Rayonier owned or leased under long-term agreements approximately 2.7 million acres of timberlands located in the U.S. South (1.79 million acres), U.S. Pacific Northwest (486,000 acres) and New Zealand (418,000 acres). More information is available at www.rayonier.com.
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