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Author Topic: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading  (Read 1558 times)

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Offline Dylan21502

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Hi all- I welcome and appreciate any feedback.
Do most/all FULL TIME consultants high grade?!

After obtaining my associates degree in forestry,  I landed what I thought was an incredible (too good to be true) opportunity to be on the forefront of an upcoming logging company (est. 2015). As planned/hoped for, I got in good with some foresters that were marking our timber> botta bing, botta boom> gotta job..  Start date:  7/31/18.

Getting to the point--
Do most/all FULL TIME consultants high grade?!
Is their an argument FOR diam limit selection? We do DLS marking mostly 16" +. Sometimes I'm told no white pine, no white oak, or every other
16" poplar or some combination..

 From my 'experience' (for what it's worth, haha), and from what hungry boss man tells me, ALL consultant Foresters either mark the site for high grading or starve to death due to lack of work as a result of turning down landowners who request high grading..

 "If we turn down the job, they'll just call another consultant who will gladly take what could have been our company's $$."

"We work FOR the landowner. They don't care about longevity, nor forest health, nor [insert hippy argument here]; they want money! And it's our job, our duty, our promise to get them the best return possible without destroying their forest."

"We try to educate the landowner and explain the importance/value of longevity, BUT.. we submit to the landowner and meet their objectives accordingly.."

"That's a good tree to leave unmarked." [As they point to the one oak with a broken terminal leader and a huge den cavity in the butt log..].

Logging was never this stressful (and I can count the number of times I almost died.. a very small number of times I should say lol in all fairness but I hope the point I'm trying to make is understood..). I have a lot of respect for loggers. However, I'm guilty of believing the ol' media hype "logging is  evil!" before college. At this point in my short-lived career,, I've definitely had far less negative impact on the forest as a logger than I am now as a marking technician.. However, this is an extremely appealing offer.. I'd probably never be able to make this much money anywhere else. I'm the 3rd highest paid employee of our 8 employees, who are quickly approaching retirement. My boss basically told me I'll be 3rd from the top until he leaves (and 2nd in command afterwards).
Do I wanna screw up this opportunity?? -No.. Do i wanna keep high grading? -No.. Who knows.. maybe after the old farts  leave, this young, naive college fish can stop high grading and save the world?!?!
I do feel it's necessary to say I understand the motivation factor here- $$$.. and I accept it (I too enjoy receiving a pay check..).

Hope this wasn't too long-winded..!

Thanks,
Dylan

Offline mike_belben

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2018, 01:20:44 PM »
Its a small world so youd be probably be wise to take your full name out of there.  You never know how public info can harm you later.  I speak from experience but its already too late for me. 

I cant tell you what goes on where, but i will say that economics in an owners lifetime will always overpower what is good for the unborn.  Its a fact of life youll need to accept.  You could be in their shoes someday, i was asked to destroy some woods to provide an old man with a check every friday.  His wife was dying of cancer out of pocket.  I cant blame him.

IMO a hardwood clearcut is easy for nature to repair while a hardwood highgrade requires human intervention to fix.  

Are you able to mark cull trees or will a logging contractor just laugh at that?  Can you mark extra heavy on the pulp cutting?  

Removal of the prime trees is not nearly as bad if a lot of low grade and shade tolerant trees are removed at the same time.  The ground contains prime seeds and with intense sun from larger clearings, the best genetics will win.  That doesnt occur where only prime trees are harvested and generations of junk are left standing.  Theyll choke the prime seedlings to death and only garbage will fill in.  You can probably sway some landowners with education, but dont expect to win em all unless you aim to work for free doing the labor for them.  

If it really bothers you start a firewood business on the side.  So far its the only way i have figured how to make any money at all on corrective forestry actions.  And i do mean break even money.  Not profit.
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2018, 01:26:07 PM »
Welcome to the Forum Dylan.    popcorn_smiley
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Offline wannaergo

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2018, 02:37:33 PM »
I don't have a college education, but I have seen how different management techniques look after time passes. I looked at a job last spring, it was a hardwood stand that had been high graded about 50 years ago, and you'd never guess it had been that long. The regeneration was only about 2" dbh, and the mature trees were complete and utter garbage. On 80 acres, I bet there's not a saw log to be found. 
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 03:09:22 PM »
Consultants do what their clients ask, or don't work.  I will try to convince them that management is the best bet, but if they don't want to follow good forestry, I give the best clear cut in Texas, with the maximum income.  Company foresters tend to feed the mill, consultants don't, but we need to make a living.  You will probably face the consulting forester/forestry consultant in your new job, the former is trained, the latter may not be, do not confuse the two. I try my best not to highgrade, but explaining the difference to a client can be frustrating.
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Offline Tarm

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 03:45:09 PM »
Is there a pulp market? If there is a consultant could release the 10-15 inch crop trees while still harvesting the 16 inch plus "money" trees. That would set the forest up for future growth and allow regeneration to begin in the money tree canopy gaps.

Offline Autocar

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2018, 04:01:02 PM »
Here in farm country the dollar is all that matters not much about the future of the woodlot or the next generation. This is why a group of loggers,foresters and interested landowners started Woodland Stewardship Association ? Supporting Responsible Timber Management it all boils down to trying to educate the woodland owner. Probably into this five years are we gaining ground ? I am not so sure but if we don't try to change it who will ? Never been a big one for education but I do believe this will be the only way we change the minds of landowners. Hang in there and never give up on what you believe in .
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Offline John Mc

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2018, 05:08:47 PM »
Man, I must be hanging around with the right landowners (and foresters and loggers).

Those I'm talking to all tend to be more interested in the long-term health of the forest than in immediate cash return. Some of them may not know what it takes to accomplish that, but they are open to learning. Unfortunately, those landowners who haven't learned at least a little sometimes fall victim to unscrupulous characters.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow

Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2018, 06:01:06 PM »
If they cut ALL 16 and up I see no problem. That gets all the bad trees at some point. Then if its marked and logged/skidded properly then some small low grade trees can be turn/skid trees. And some will be damaged by felling. The problem here is some only high grade. Dont care about dbh. Leaving all junk. And ask Mother Nature for a pay check. Good luck.

Offline BargeMonkey

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2018, 07:14:05 PM »
I cut 75% private stumpage and 25% marked wood, the foresters I'm dealing with aren't high grading that I see. My area has been really raped in spots, the weekend warrior with an 8N /  or possibly dressed in amish clothing is the biggest problem here now, walked 3 jobs in Otsego county that would be a great case study for what happens when you high grade. 

Offline mike_belben

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2018, 09:48:22 PM »
... I looked at a job last spring, it was a hardwood stand that had been high graded about 50 years ago, and you'd never guess it had been that long. The regeneration was only about 2" dbh, and the mature trees were complete and utter garbage.
Thats really sad.  My neighborhood is a subdivided former timber tract and was high graded several times before divied into building lots and condition was about the same.  A heavy handed culling strategy has really jump started the growth rate.   After a while i kinda got an eye for the sickly dying oaks.  A white oak can look straight as an arrow and be 6" DBH at 80 yrs old.  The inside will be chocolate brown and growth rings so tight you  an barely distinguish one from the next.  If theyre as tall as the canopy trees but only have a single leader i tend to cull them.   The ones with a bunched up multi stalk top tend to respond much faster to release.  They spread open like an umbrella and look like brocolli in 2 yrs.


Revelation 3:20

Offline Ianab

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2018, 03:15:32 AM »
If they cut ALL 16 and up I see no problem. That gets all the bad trees at some point.


Not always. There are trees that might never reach 16" (or make a useful sawlog). A diameter cut is going to favour that type of tree, at the expense of the larger and more valuable species. 

So while a diameter cut is better than a "high grade", because at least it takes out the large junk, it's probably not the "best" management. 

A smarter cut will mark smaller less desirable or poor quality trees to haul out as pulp or firewood, because they are never going to amount to much, but are taking up space that could be growing a better tree. 

"High grade" is basically "take the best, and leave the junk". Poor long term management. Better to take the mature trees, AND the trash. A "good" harvest might leave good 16" trees, because you know in 20 years (next harvest) they will be 24". and much more valuable.
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Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2018, 05:14:35 AM »
Lanab thats why I said use some small junk for trail trees and damage trees. I understand that wont get all the junk.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2018, 09:55:28 AM »
The issue with diameter limit is it removes the fastest growers and retains the slowest because they never hit the DL like was said.  So each time you DL cut your growth rate reduces and future genetics get poor as the fastest growing stock seed is removed.  The mill gets the value and the landowner keeps accumulating the trash. It may as well go to hay or corn, theres no sense calling it timberland if it doesnt produce viable timber anymore.


I have tried to sell a TSI job to 3 larger timberland owners [200, 900 and 1600 acres] unsuccessfully but i could feel that the talks were having an impact on their ownership perspective. My angle was that common harvest practice is whats best for the mill, not you.  That mills are only paying to acquire the best sawable lumber as quicklyy and cheaply as possible because thats just business, they cant afford to prune your stand and shouldnt have to, its yours.  The labor is yours and the benefit from it is yours.  If you let the logger choose what trees you get and what trees they get, youll only have trash and that may as well be a hayfield.  

I could see the gears turning as i tried to point out winners and explain that only the winners pay so you want to collect and grow only winners.  If a big hollow maple is seeding 100yds in every direction and they outgrow oak seedlings, how many future winners is that old soft maple preventing?  Cull it!

 I was supposed to start working for the 1600 acre tract when he died in a tragic motorcycle accident actually.  Nice guy too, i miss him.
Revelation 3:20

Offline Autocar

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2018, 06:37:20 PM »
Ive always been against diameter cuts, to many guys says 16 inch diameter the landowner thinks at waist high, eye level not realizing the logger means at ground level . In other words there won't be a tree standing when they leave. You sell on diameter cut around here the next thing your see is a corn field.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2018, 07:09:38 PM »
Ive always been against diameter cuts, to many guys says 16 inch diameter the landowner thinks at waist high, eye level not realizing the logger means at ground level . In other words there won't be a tree standing when they leave. You sell on diameter cut around here the next thing your see is a corn field.
Diameter limit cuts go by the diameter at ground level? I thought they were DBH. I guess it makes checking up on what was taken after the fact a bit easier, since the stump is still there. I guess the distinction doesn't matter much on my property, since I won't be doing a DLC anyway.
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Offline Firewoodjoe

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2018, 08:50:40 PM »
I know what u mean autocar. Weve cut sales that the spec was 10 at stump. Boy not much left. A 22 bunched can scrap a stump on a 6 tree to the dirt and make 10 stump. Whos to blame 😕??

Offline Skeans1

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2018, 11:34:24 PM »
Ive only cut one job marked by a forester and Ill say Ill never cut one again especially for a thin, a good operator will have a better idea for what needs to be opened up if they do it day in and out. What kind of spacing or amount of sides of the crown are to be released on the stem should dictate what comes out, if theres two good trees sometimes Ill leave them slightly closer others Ill pull the shorter of the two. In a good thin the understory is the first to go after your row tree, then look at whats left to see if anything else needs to go.

Offline Southside logger

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2018, 11:42:06 PM »
It's all about the cash to the land owner. Have a neighbor who has about 200 acres he wanted select harvested on.  He was given a price for each grade, pulp, etc with an estimate of total income.  Fast forward a bit and another outfit offered him more for his timber, but based on the description he gave me they are going to high grade it right to the end, anything they leave will be considered legal 
"seed trees" so he does not have to replant.  In all reality it will be a clear cut with some odd and assorted junk left behind to be able to keep from having to call it a clear cut.  There won't be timber on there for a very long time.    
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2018, 08:23:11 AM »
i see a lot of that.  The remaining "trees" look like palms.  Or sore thumbs.


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Offline Dylan21502

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2018, 08:47:13 AM »
You hiring? 😂

Offline Dylan21502

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2018, 08:50:32 AM »
Don't know why I didn't think about that.. Thank you!

Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: College grad (new fish) asking about the realities of high grading
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2018, 09:19:03 AM »
Difference between a bad haircut and good one is about 2 weeks.  The difference in timber is about 2 generations!
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