The economy has forced a lot of people to examine their possessions for potential value. Iowa farmers and other land owners are finding they can turn a decent profit selling trees. Aron Flickinger, a forester with the Department of Natural Resources, is encouraging those farmers to do their research.
Flickinger says a trained forester can guide landowners to ensure the future health of the forest will be sustainable, improving the overall value of the land. There are more than 138,000 and Iowans who own trees that are classified as "forest" on their property.
Sawmills and other timber buyers spend around $20-million a year purchasing trees from those landowners. Flickinger says it can be difficult to determine the value of a stand of trees.
"Really, the best way for a farmer to know the value is to get several people who are in the log buying business to give him an estimate of what they would pay for those trees," Flickinger said. The D.N.R. can help Iowans draw up a contract to sell the trees. Flickinger says land owners should avoid verbal agreements sealed with a handshake.
"Sometimes I get calls from landowners that either don’t get paid or don’t feel like they got enough money for their trees," Flickinger said. "That’s why we want farmers to seek a professional resource to get good advice, much like they would if they were selling a house or farmland."
Walnut and oak tree are generally among the most valuable trees in Iowa, but a variety of factors determine what buyers are willing to pay, including the distance to haul the logs to a sawmill, the quantity and quality of the timber and the market conditions for the wood products that will be made from the timber.
A single walnut tree, with high quality veneer, can be worth around $10,000. Flickinger says farmers and other land owners play an important role in determining the long term sustainability of Iowa’s forests. He says over 90% of Iowa’s forest resources are owned by private citizens.
See the D.N.R.’s website for more information on trees.