Pricing Walnut Logs

Fine points of getting a fair price for walnut on the stump. August 30, 2007

I have several walnut trees on my place. There is a log buyer fairly close by who will buy as many or as few logs as you might want to sell. If you cut and deliver, he is paying $1.50/bd ft, 16" minimum diameter, 10' minimum length. The price per bd. ft. goes down for smaller diameters and lengths. I haven't measured my trees, but I think I have several that will fall in the large category.

Does this sound like a fair price? How is it determined which scale is used to calculate the bd. ft. per log? I have never done anything like this and just want to make sure this sounds like a fair and normal transaction.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor D:
For 16" walnut, that is more than a fair price... if you get it. Sometimes advertised price is not what a guy walks away with. If he grades on the truck, you may come up short. I do not know the feller you are speaking of, but just talking in general terms. I will not take anything less that 16" at my mill (small end), then subtract for defect, crook, etc. Some markets are different and I don't know yours, but that is a small log in this neck of the woods. My best advice is if you are looking to sell, take one small load and see how you fair.

From contributor T:
Your trees sound fairly small, but his price to buy in log form sounds nice. I'd let them live - they're only going to get bigger. Just because they fit into the 16" diameter range, and you can make a 10' log out of them, doesn't mean they're going to be logs he wants. His price sounds like a premium, so I feel comfortable assuming the logs must be straight as arrows and fairly defect free.

From contributor E:
Have the log buyer come and measure the trees and price them before you do any cutting. Have the log buyer give you a list of each tree's BF and price if you cut and deliver. Make sure you know how to calculate the BF in each tree so you can tell if he is telling you the truth. Beware of anyone saying they will give you $1.50/BF for your walnut trees. Find out what grade the trees must be to receive that price.

From contributor P:
I concur with the fellow who says you should have the buyer come and scale the trees. If you cut them, you have to do one of three things: sell them at the price offered, cut them for firewood, or let them rot. If you get a price for them standing, you can refuse lowball offers and let them grow, which I recommend at this point. I am a retired consultant forester and know of which I speak! Or you can obtain the services of a consultant forester. You can probably get the names of some from your state forestry people.

From contributor Y:
Any way to get at least one more bid? Amazing what prices do with a little competition! We had one buyer tell us what some walnut trees would be worth, but when they were cut and on the ground, he noticed some defect and lowered the price. I certainly agree that if you can let them grow, you should do it. Price is only going to go up in the future. Getting a tree into a veneer class means a big jump in value!

From contributor R:
What are the specs for a walnut tree to be labeled a veneer class tree? I have about 20 walnut trees and two of them are very large. I was thinking about gun stock blanks out of the root ball. We never considered cutting them for veneering.

From contributor W:
$1.50 bdft sounds like an average walnut price for that size tree. Bigger and with no defects may go higher, smaller or defects and it will be lower. If you get to the buyer and the price changes drastically, bring them straight to a small sawmill and have the best grade boards cut 8/4 and the lower grades cut 4/4. Look at the current walnut prices on this site for an idea what it will be worth kiln dried.

From contributor Y:
A veneer log is whatever the buyer says is a veneer log! They're veneering logs now that would have gone as grade lumber a couple of years ago. The resource is diminishing, at least around here, and buyers are getting less picky. That's another reason for multiple quotes. One might buy for grade lumber while another would be willing to pay veneer prices. Even (especially) in the veneer class, you've got three reasons to let the tree grow, if feasible. 1) more board footage, 2) higher price per board ft on larger logs, and 3) my bet is that the value of walnut lumber will outpace inflation.