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    Selling Firewood | Winter 2012 Out Here Magazine

    Harvesting timber for sale benefits both your wallet and woodlot

    man taking cut firewood out of a wheelbarrow to stack
    If you sell firewood, remember that seasoned firewood demands a higher price than green firewood, so set the price accordingly. A full cord of seasoned firewood can range anywhere from $150 to $300, depending on time of year and location.
    Out Here

    By Stephen Bishop

    Photography by Greg Latza

    Cutting firewood to sell each year can keep your woodlot healthy and vigorous while also generating extra cash during cold months.

    Basic tools of the firewood trade are commonplace on most farms and homesteads: a well-oiled chainsaw, an axe or splitting maul, and a pickup truck. Landowners who find themselves cutting high volumes of wood may want to invest in a hydraulic wood splitter to reduce the back-straining work of repeatedly hefting a maul.

    In selecting trees for firewood, some species are better than others. Much depends on tree varieties in your region, along with, of course, what trees are on your property.

    Species such as elm and ironwood are notoriously hard to split. Other species, such as Osage-orange or cherry, split more easily and provide aromatic and longburning wood, making them premium firewood species.

    Pines and other softwoods tend to burn quickly, spark, and flare up. In many locales, softwood species are considered second-rate firewood.

    Tree quality also is an important consideration. Scraggly and crooked trees are ideal candidates for firewood for a couple reasons. If you're inclined to sell timber for manufacturing purposes, then the large, straight trees should be left for more valuable sawtimber.

    If you're primarily interested in maintaining a healthy woodlot, removing crooked and stunted trees can free up water and sunlight for more desirable trees.

    To sustainably harvest firewood, limit harvesting to 1½ cords per acre each year. A cord is merely a stack of wood that measures 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long.

    Perhaps the biggest dilemma a landowner faces in cutting firewood is retrieving the wood itself. Some landowners find it easier to drag, or "skid," a log out of the woods with a tractor or ATV. A specialized piece of equipment called a "log arch" can be hitched to an ATV or tractor to make skidding logs easier and reduce soil compaction.

    Firewood should be stacked, ideally under cover, and allowed to season; most hardwood species need at least six months to dry sufficiently for burning.

    Other landowners cut and split logs where they fall, loading the split wood onto a pickup truck. Whatever your strategy, just be sure you can access a tree before felling it.

    Once selected and felled, a tree should be de-limbed of branches and eventually cut, or "bucked," into 16-inch sections; each section should be split into firewood-sized pieces to help aid drying.

    Firewood should be stacked, ideally under cover, and allowed to season; most hardwood species need at least six months to dry sufficiently for burning.

    In selling firewood, remember that seasoned firewood demands a higher price than green firewood, so set the price accordingly.

    Depending on location and time of year, a full cord of seasoned firewood ranges in price from $150 to $300. Many people also sell face cords, or "ricks," for customers who don't need a full cord. A face cord contains roughly one-third the wood of a full cord. Others sell firewood by the truckload, which varies in price depending on truck size.

    If you do have high-quality firewood species, such as hickory or cherry, sell them individually, rather than with other mixed hardwoods, to get a better price.

    A recent graduate of the North Carolina State University forestry program, Stephen Bishop lives in Shelby, N.C., with his wife, chickens, and bees.

     

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