Pecan Wood for Use as Ties

A little info (and some unanswered questions) about the usefulness of Pecan wood for railroad ties.June 14, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I have recently opened a sawmill. I have a prospect for a large amount of pecan and hickory to be exported to China. I was informed by our tie buyer that if we harvest pecan when the sap is running, it will quickly deteriorate and be unacceptable for railroad ties. I am assuming that if that is the case for ties, it will also be the case for lumber. To meet the requirements for the order it must comply with NHLA grading standards. If the above occurs, we will be unable to sell it for ties or for lumber.

Can anyone tell me if my tie buyer’s statement is true and comment if there is a solution to this problem. Otherwise we will have to wait until next winter to begin harvesting the logs and will miss a year’s possible production. If he is correct we will have to turn down the order and go a different direction. I do recall reading something about timing the harvest of certain kinds of logs for rustic bark covered logs so that the bark will remain tightly attached.

Forum Responses
(Forestry Forum)
From contributor B:
Not sure when the sap isn't running, and leaving the bark on can provide a place for insects to live.

From Contributor X:
Pecan is hard, heavy, strong, and has many great qualities. Untreated it does not have the kind of decay resistance for ground contact that most people think it does. Many people believe that density alone gives a big clue as to a species rot resistance but there's more to it than that. It doesn't matter what time of year you fall the pecans, if they are used improperly they won't be acceptable.

As to what your tie buyer said I have never heard that. Pecan must be infused with creosote or whatever they are using now in order to perform acceptably as ties. I'm not much help on the particular issue but it seems you either have to find a new tie buyer or another market for your pecan. I fall them year round and have never noticed any difference in how they weather. I have left a lot of pecan slabs laying around for too long and have never noticed the wood itself quickly deteriorate.

From the original questioner:

Allow me to clarify the deterioration I was talking about. Apparently he was talking about separation between the rings similar to ring shake or splitting. If a tie buyer sees this they will reject or cull the tie.