Cedar Log Value

A wandering thread, but you can learn something here about Cedar (or whatever y'all call that tree). February 3, 2011

I have nine trees that I believe are red cedar. The center is red and sapwood is white. The logs are 18" 20" in diameter, about 12', and about 35 years old. The previous owner of my house planted them along the driveway in 1976. They have no metal in them (never part of a fence line). My company wants to buy the logs from me. Are they worth anything? I would hate to use them for firewood.

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Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
On the cedar scale a 12" DIB little end of a 12' log scales 70 bdft. I have been paying $400 mbdft for cedar by scale, so that log would pay $28.00 for a good sound log. An 18" x 12' log would scale 158 and pay $63.20.

From contributor K:
I pay $400/mbf as well. That means cut clean and delivered to the mill yard. You may find that the effort to harvest, process and transport will cost more than they are worth. That usually does not stop the event, but it is a consideration.

I find that trees and lumber are like air. Finding a person willing to pay cash money for breathing, a log or lumber is rare. Fresh air and pretty lumber is a treasure even if cash is not part of the picture. Sorry for getting philosophical. You would get $400/mbf less logging costs at my mill.

From contributor C:

We pay $450/1000 for any sound log 10" and larger delivered to the mill. For 5" through 9" $400/1000. This is on the cedar scale. 900 feet of logs for two hours work and delivery is good money in anybody's book.

From contributor J:
This post looks indicative of the honesty versus greed ratio that is prevalent in the timber industry now. It's tough to find an honest lumber cutter and even more so at the mill. I've called a dozen timber guys and gotten two bids that were close. The rest were all over the spectrum of low ballers. The mills have the same game but I finally found a brother mason with the real deal on what was happening. Incidentally I have 35 acres to cut of red cedar with some being over 30" and the average being around 12". It's pretty dense. I'm not looking to make a fortune, but I'm not a sucker either.

From contributor K:
I think the process of getting the logs to the mill is a job for skilled operators. Those same people know what it costs to manufacture and deliver a decent saw log. Good loggers are not cheap.

I pay for good logs delivered to the sawmill. What I pay for a log reflects the price I feel the lumber customer will pay after I make the lumber and get my bills paid.

Timber owners want to think that timber is worth money. Standing timber is like air... not worth a thing until it is sold/delivered. Dead or damaged timber is worth about as much as used (exhaled) air. Finding people willing to pay a "fair" price for logs, milling or lumber is not easy work.

Sounds like you did your homework and I hope the project meets your objectives. Finally, please be kind. One man can be greedy. Another man can be honest. Sometimes the line between honest and greedy is a matter of opinions rather than facts.

From contributor J:
Contributor K is right about the difference being opinion in some cases. Also logging is not just tedious, laborious and hard work - it can be lethal if you know what you're doing, never mind if you're clueless or inexperienced. I've got a dental implant, facial fractures and nerve damage from a fight with a hickory two years ago. I vacillate on which category I fall into. I've been cutting with chainsaws since I was 9, and at 45, I learn something new every time the wind blows. I'm getting too darn old to get home after a 12 hour day and go cut wood till dark, but I'm gonna. I can't find an honest cutter willing to do 35 acres of cedar. The good ones are making money on the big cuts. I'll probably be closer to my chiropractor than my wife for the rest of the summer, but hopefully I'll be at a net plus after the mill. Don't think I'm down on timber guys. Just the bubbas I've run across here in AR lately.

From contributor C:
In southern Indiana we pay about 1/4 to 1/3 of what it brings at the mill for standing cedar. In Oklahoma the landowners pay us about $75 per acre to cut and clear the cedar. We make mulch from it grinding whole trees. There are 10,000,000 acres waiting to be cut and it is taking over the state at 750 acres per day. This is why the cedar has a negative value in OK. We sometimes get quite a few very good saw logs which we take to a sawmill.

The top price a person can bid on cedar is determined by what a logger can get for his cedar at the mill minus the costs of logging and hauling and the profit he needs to make to pay his wages, taxes, pension, etc. The bottom price is determined by how much cedar is for sale in the area and how much competition there is from other loggers.

If you are the seller it is up to you to get the top dollar. I have yet to see a landowner give money back to a logger because he overpaid. It does happen that loggers overbid a tract and get burnt.

From contributor J:
The cedar was pretty bad down in central TX as well. We lived in the hill country and couldn't cut enough of the scrubby things to keep it down. Having a good stand of mostly 8" at the small end of the logs and quite a few great granddads, I'd expect a little better price. The sawmill is only 15 miles up the road and they're giving a decent price. There's not a boom on cedar here. It's really the only thing going besides pulp wood. I'm easy to deal with, but you better look me in the eye when we shake on a deal. I work for the USDA and have already had a state appraisal of the timber. I also already cut the trails to the whole property for skidding to make it easier. It's a shame that the guys who you talk to on the phone don't come out to look. It'd be a lot easier than the usual jungle that you find on most AR properties.

From contributor A:
Where at in AR? I am in north central Arkansas and buy all the cedar I can get. I pay the going rate and am fair with the stick. If I have ever cheated a man, I did not mean to. Also some cedar buyers are very cautious with large cedars. Often they are bad inside and only good for chipping.

From contributor J:
I'm 25 miles ESE of Fort Smith. The drive up to the Ozark mill is about 30 minutes with a load. What's the going rate for post and board cedar?

From contributor T:
Yeah, that scrub cedar down in the hill country would not hardly warrant harvesting. You got to get in east and northeast Texas to get into the good stuff. I'm not sure that the cedar down there is even Juniperus virginiana. We have a dozen or so species of cedar in the state.

The books will not mention south and central Texas or the hill country specifically as a region for Western cedar, but I know it's there. Last year I took the missus down to the hill country for our anniversary and we stayed at a bed and breakfast on a large rural estate where they only have two guest houses. So you can get as much time with the owners to explore the several hundred acres as you want. We did spend a full day with them because we really enjoyed their company and the ranch was beautiful and we wanted the grand tour.

At one point we were driving down to a waterfall and I commented on all the eastern red cedar strewn in among the hardwoods. He said those aren't ERC, that's Western cedar. I just said "oh." But he could tell I didn't believe him. He didn't say anything, he just pulled the truck up to the edge of the woods, got out and cut a decent size limb off one that was hanging low and sticking out into the pasture. We learned something again! But this was a big tree, not a scraggly one like most of the cedar.

He also had sand cedar on his property, and it's supposedly not found except along the coast. Many of those cedars look similar if you aren't used to seeing them daily, especially when they're young.

I realize (as most of you do) all of these species we are calling "cedar" are junipers. Juniper is in the Cypress family (I think). There are cedars that are their own species but I don't think there are nearly as many as in the Juniper genus. I don't know what family cedars are in. Don't take any of this to the bank.