Sawing Storm-Downed Walnut and Cherry

Advice on recovering high-quality lumber from Walnut and Cherry trees blown over in a storm. February 14, 2010

I have about four or five walnut trees and one nice cherry tree that blew down in a storm a couple of weeks ago. My grandpa planted the walnut trees a long time ago; they have been growing in a river bottom and have been mowed around and pruned. I was not ready to harvest them yet, but now have no choice. The roots are intact and the leaves are still green on a couple of the trees. I would like to keep the wood from the cherry tree and one of the walnuts and sell the rest. What is the best way to handle the trees right now to maximize their value? I am a cabinetmaker in central Missouri. I would like to use the lumber to make heirloom pieces for my family.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor L:
Look for a sawmill in your area and have it cut up.

From contributor S:
If the trees leafed out this season there's no big rush - they're still alive. But it is a good time to hunt around for someone to do the sawing. I'd leave the trees as they are until you are ready to buck the logs into the lengths you want. Logs with open ends can dry out and crack over the summer.

8/4 walnut brings more money than 4/4. Sawing walnut is different than sawing other species, so hire someone that knows what they are doing to get the best grade. Go out to the mill where you might send the logs and look over the lumber they are producing. Are there thickness problems? Do they saw high quality material like walnut or cherry? Avoid hiring a rookie who has just purchased a mill and has little experience.

From contributor F:
If the uprooting broke off the majority of the roots, I'd get in a bit more of a hurry. Transpirational drying can occur through the leaves, resulting in internal checks. Cutting off the limbs stops that. Preferably I'd cut the logs to length, paint the ends and have them sawn promptly. Summer is a tough time to process logs, and downed trees have more degrading tricks than in winter.

From contributor A:
Walnut logs are not worth as much as they were two years ago. Several walnut places are not even buying logs right now. If the leaves are green then there is no big hurry right now. But if the trees start wilting, you will have to get to them. The cherry sapwood will stain if the tree dies on the stump, more so than the walnut.