Phytosanitary Standards for Lumber Export

A little information about heat-treating and labeling requirements for wood pallets and lumber destined for export overseas. July 26, 2010

I've been following WOODWEB for the past 8 years. I've got 10 acres in the southeast ready to start my small lumber business. From your experience, what size sawmill and kiln is the best to purchase for 40 mbf/month of white oak, ash and walnut? The kiln has to reach 180F for phyto purpose.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Do you want to make your own energy (steam or hot water boiler) or do you want to purchase electricity? For softwoods, maybe you want to use direct fired with gas or wood waste. The hardware choice is an energy choice, as all the good systems will achieve the same kiln conditions (temperature, humidity and air flow). Certainly, softwood (2x4, 2x6, etc.) and hardwood kilns are different. Please tell me more about the 180 degrees that you need, as I did not know it was that hot for phyto.

From contributor T:
I don't know the requirements for softwood framing lumber or milled hardwood lumber, but there aren't any stamp requirements for the species of rough timber I export to EU countries. That's for the timber itself.

Pallets, however, must have the ISPM-15 stamp, and to get that you have to use a pallet constructed of lumber that has been dried and heated to a core temperature of 56 C which is 133 F ~. You can buy pallets with ISPM-15 stamps and you can also get a stamp for pallets you make, and that isn't as hard as you might imagine. A USDA agent at DFW was a goldmine of information for me when I first researched how to export my product. I eventually found a freight company right there at DFW that I now use that does all the necessary paperwork for me.

I quickly found out that for me, it is much easier to ship (all of it air freight) my lumber in crates that I construct myself from plywood. I build 12' x 4' x 2' crates using 1 1/8" sturdi-floor plywood. The corner cleats and even crate skids are made of doubled 1 1/8" so that no softwoods are used. This allows the shipment of my product without the necessity of getting a phyto stamp.

If you'll be shipping container loads, I'd suggest using a freight company like mine that has an in-house import/export agent that can tell you what your requirements are for your species and destination, and that will do all the paperwork for you as part of the service. It will save you a lot of headaches.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Contributor T is correct. I would add that every single piece of wood must be stamped, even a corner brace or a 2x2 bottom skid or wood piece to hold the metal or plastic band.

From the original questioner:
I don't know where I got that 180F. 133F it is - and thanks to you guys.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
One clarification to contributor T's remarks... He should have stated that "The corner cleats and even crate skids are made of doubled 1 1/8" so that no lumber is used" (instead of "no softwood is used." The plywood is probably southern pine, so it is a softwood.

From contributor T:
Thanks for the correction, Doc. It's an important point. I think the nomenclature for the exceptions to the ISPM-15 stamp requirements is "engineered wood" or "processed laminated wood" and the like.

This stuff can be found in various TARIC and EU TARIFF classification documentation, and wood packaging requirement docs, etc. among other places.

Still, you can bypass all of that lengthy research by using the aforementioned resources. There is rarely a need to pay big bucks for an import/export specialist these days if you already have a buyer. The import/export freight market is highly competitive and between the USDA (lots of free help from them, especially if you get a good agent) and the in-house agents that most reputable freight companies provide, you should be able to get all the professional help you need.