COLUMBIA, Mo.– Selling timber can be very profitable. While it depends on the quality of the timber, prices are higher than they’ve ever been.

“A standing tract of timber can bring anywhere from $300 to $700 per acre when it is harvested,” says University of Missouri Extension forestry specialist Hank Stelzer.

A harvest is not the same as a clear cut, he notes. Harvesting is a selective process of removing biologically mature trees. Usually about half of the volume can be removed in a sustainable manner.

In addition to generating revenue, harvesting can benefit the timber stand.

“You are weeding the woodland garden,” Stelzer says. “You are thinning those inferior trees, those trees that have slowed down in growth, and allowing younger and more vigorous trees with good, healthy crowns to grow.”

Once landowners start managing their forest, productive sites can be harvested every 10 years, he says. Poorer sites may need 15 to 20 years between harvests.

To properly manage timber, get a professional forester involved and determine your objectives for the land, Stelzer says. “A professional forester can tailor the kind of management that needs to be done. Also, when it is time to harvest you know exactly what you have to sell.”

Loggers often approach landowners who have no idea what they are going to sell, which puts them at a disadvantage.

“By working with that forester, you know what trees need to come out and how much timber is going to come out, and you can do what we call competitive bid,” Stelzer says. “You invite buyers to come in and then buyers will compete against each other. You will always get a better price by doing a competitive, sealed bid process.”

If you are thinking about harvesting timber, Stelzer recommends contacting “Call Before You Cut,” a partnership of MU Extension, the Missouri Department of Conservation and several other organizations that provides information to landowners with timber to sell. The number to call is 1-877-564-7483. More information is available at

Stelzer says that timbering is not even in the top 10 of reasons people own forestland. But through proper management, landowners can have their cake and eat it too. For example, if they want to provide habitat for deer, turkeys and other upland game, they can improve the habitat as well as make a profit by harvesting timber.

For more information about selling timber, MU Extension guide G5051, “Selling Timber: What the Landowner Needs to Know,” is available for free download at

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