Money Grows with Trees

first_imgTo cut or not to cut. That may be the question for Georgia forest landowners. But theycan’t go wrong either way, says Coleman Dangerfield.”You can earn a better return from the land by taking your trees out beyondpulpwood age,” says the University of Georgia Extension Service economist. “Butif you’ve got to have the cash after the trees have been growing for 15 years, thenclear-cut and take the profit.”Gain now or gain later. But if you can let your pine trees go a while longer, you’ll gain more profits andother benefits.”If you can let your timber stand grow beyond 25 or 30years,”Dangerfield says, “you’ll get other plants growing, wildlife will have more food and cover andthe view will be more attractive. It’s also good for the wood-buying public.”Timber sold earlier goes mainly for pulpwood.”People use a pile of paper,” Dangerfield says. That explains the projected 1.2 percent annual growth in paper and paperboardconsumption. This forest-product category is expected to grow faster than any other. Theprice should keep up with inflation, he says.If you can leave your timber alone for a generation, your trees will increase in value.Instead of pulpwood, you’ll sell for solid wood products such as veneer logs, plywood,structural panels and poles.The cut-now-cut-later decision reaches further than timber owners’ bank accounts. Forestry isbig business in Georgia. With 65 percent of the land in forests, Georgia has thesecond-highest percentage of forest land in the Southeast, behind Alabama. The industryemploys 71,849 people in Georgia and 1.6 million nationwide. Timber products comprise the largest portion of total agricultural crop value in theUnited States, valued at $46.3 billion. Georgia’s total is more than $2 billion, by far the highest in the Southeast.”Sometimes people forget where two-by-fours come from,” Dangerfield says. “Trees are an agriculturalcrop in Georgia — a very good crop for Georgia. Our trees have a purpose. They arebeautiful and we do enjoy them, but they are harvested just like corn or soybeans.”Special legislation reserves 36 million acres of timberlands for nontimber uses. Alltogether, federal, state and local governments own 131 million of the country’s 490million forest acres. Of Georgia’s 23.6 million forest acres, 1.6 million acres are publicly owned.last_img read more