How to sell timber for profit and healthy woods.



Linda Geist

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Money does grow on trees, says University of Missouri Extension natural resources specialist Sarah Havens.

Just how much money depends in part on knowledge and planning by the landowner, Havens says.

At the recent Pixels of Production conference for women in agriculture, Havens told participants how to improve profits and forest health. Pixels took the place of the annual Pearls of Production hands-on conference.

Most landowners do not know the value of their woodlands, she says. Too often, landowners make quick decisions on selling and underestimate the true value of their trees. A professional forester helps guide the process so that the sale is financially and ecologically sound.

There are two types of professional foresters: public foresters, such as those who work with the Missouri Department of Conservation and provide limited advisory and management assistance, and private foresters who charge a fee to get the best price for timber and offer woodland health advice.

“The amount paid for their services is more than returned through the increased revenue from the timber sale,” says Havens.

Havens recommends these steps before selling:

Do not make a quick decision. Educate yourself and make a plan.

Hire a professional forester. Foresters will give an inventory of the number and types of trees available for sale as well as the volume, quality and estimated value of the timber. They may also offer guidance on working with loggers, marketing the timber and income tax provisions for timber sales.

Be a good neighbor. Know your property lines so that you do not infringe on adjacent property. Let neighboring landowners know that a logger will be harvesting trees on your land. Establish a safe buffer zone between properties.

Choose a logger by negotiation or sealed bid. Foresters consider less than 20 acres of woodland a small sale. In these cases, the seller likely will rely on direct, negotiated sales with the buyer. Larger sales may benefit from a written bid process. Havens recommends a written contract that specifies items such as payment timing and amount, insurance coverage, cleanup and restrictions. Price factors include species, site accessibility, size of trees, logging difficulty, marketing conditions, distance to mill, logging restrictions and competition.

Insist on a trained logger. The Missouri Forest Products Association website lists professional timber harvesters by county at

Monitor harvest activities.

MU Extension publication G5051, “Selling Timber: What the Landowner Needs to Know,” is available for free download at

The Missouri Department of Conservation has information on forest management at