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Small Scale Logging Production, Cords/Day w/ ATV, Logging Arch, & Chainsaw

Started by NorthMid, March 24, 2015, 11:52:15 AM

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I've been doing some reading on this site and with all the great info and resources, just joined. 

With talk about Popple (Aspen) prices being up, I am looking at a project and would like to get some feedback from those who have already done it.  Here is the project, about 10 acres of Aspen, 14 cords of pulp/acre, average DBH of 8", some up to 14" for sawbolts.

The lay of the land is pretty flat, and the distance to the landing would range from a few hundred yards to a max of ΒΌ mile.

The equipment for harvest would be an ATV, logging arch (or one of the 1 Ton ATV trailer with hand winch and boom), and a chainsaw.
Working an 8 hour shift, felling, bucking, and skidding, what's a reasonable number to go after? 1 cord/day, 1-1/2 cords? More/less?

Thanks for the great site and all the participation.


Walk though the timber checking the basic lean of the trees. Let the trees work for you, you don't want to have to start pushing or wedging trees over, it will cut your production in half. Don't over load, keep skid trails clean, so you can travel in the highest gear you can with ease. I found bigger trees to pull twice as easy when bucked in two. Measure the saw bolts and saw them off, like 2 bolts, 3 bolts, what ever the tree will make with a 8" top. Then grab the pulp end when the grabbing is handier on your way out.
Once your battle strategy and method are fingered out, i see you pulling 3 cds plus a day. The main thing is always work safely, don't fight yourself. If its not going smoothly, try a different method. Theres nothing edged in stone when logging, do what works for you and your equipment.
Third generation logger, owner operator, 30 yrs felling experience with pole skidder. I got my neck broke back in 89, left me a quad. The wife kept the job going up to 96.


Welcome NorthMid to the Forestry Forum.
I figured when reading your first post that lumberjack48 would come along with good information from his days of logging popple.  8)
south central Wisconsin
It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others


I logged some poplar this summer with my atv and the t-rex trailer .the biggest thing i noticed was if i loaded the trailer too full it slowed me down quite a bit after i learned not to be so greedy it worked out better .I was in poplar like you describe i could do two cord a day no problem it wasnt a long or to difficult a haul i could have done more but i had other stuff i was messing about with too.I also removed the hand winch off of mine and replaced it with an electric atv winch this also made it so much easier 

Rick Alger


I've never used an atv, but I've used a horse on many a project like you describe. Lumberjack 48 gave you good advice about planning your cut.

Three cords a day is possible, but for me it usually took more than an eight hour day, especially with long skids.

Those trees will probably run around ten trees to the cord. With maybe seven cuts to the tree, the yard will fill up fast. Piling and sorting will be time consuming without a crane or some other machine.

Best of luck.   


I've got a little different task. I have some leaners and some almost on the ground from the hurricane. I don't have much popple, but this is most all popple that I am cutting up to lay on the ground as a clean up. Popple rots fast, in 10 years it'll be all consumed by bugs and fungus. ;D 6-10" stuff here. The wind never bothered much softwood or hardwood, just where it might be real wet or something, a tree got uprooted hither and yon, not much.
"No amount of belief makes something a fact." James Randi

1 Thessalonians 5:21

2020 Polaris Ranger 570 to forward firewood, Husqvarna 555 XT Pro, Stihl FS560 clearing saw and continuously thinning my ground, on the side. Grow them trees. (((o)))


I'm fussy with my land and woods. I have a 40hp tractor and do about a cord a day with small wood like that.
Model 6020-20hp Manual Thomas bandsaw,TC40A 4wd 40 hp New Holland tractor, 450 Norse Winch, Heatmor 400 OWB,YCC 1978-79


I appreciate all of the responses, thank you.

This is a whole new ball game for me and I'm trying to learn the most I can before metal hits wood, so the responses help me budget my time. 

One of the first things I noticed when I walked the property and thought about harvesting is how the bigger Popple all lean toward the trees I want to grow.  I'm working with a forester to put together a plan that includes leaving Cherry, Yellow Birch, White Pine, and some of the Red Maple on the edges, so there probably will be issues with trying to drop Popple without doing too much damage.

I won't be starting the project for a while, but as I get into it I'm sure a lot more stuff will come up.  I'll try not overload you guy's with questions.

Furltech - That T-Rex is looking pretty good; I'm giving it serious thought.


I was up on the woodlot this morning doing some hand pruning on fir for future use. I have no intentions to sell the trees I prune or I wouldn't bother. Those are my saw trees. ;D
"No amount of belief makes something a fact." James Randi

1 Thessalonians 5:21

2020 Polaris Ranger 570 to forward firewood, Husqvarna 555 XT Pro, Stihl FS560 clearing saw and continuously thinning my ground, on the side. Grow them trees. (((o)))

John Mc

NorthMid -

I'm not sure how much experience you've had at felling trees, but there are a number of ways to drop a tree in a direction other than what it is leaning. The simplest, IMO, is to use a plastic wedge, but, like any felling, there is some technique to it. We can describe that and other techniques here, but this is not something that really lends itself well to text description. It's better to experience it in person, with someone who knows what they are doing.

How about filling in your profile so we know what part of the country you are in? There are a number of training organizations around the country that teach directional felling techniques (along with some good safety training). If you are interested, let us know where you are, and someone can try to make some recommendations in your area.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow


If you have to ask the question how long it takes then you are fairly inexperience.  If you are not experience and not used to very hard work you should be proud of yourself if you get one cord of wood out a day.  It takes about 2 hours to cut down and ready a cord of logs to be hauled.  To haul out a cord with an atv you may be looking at 2 more hours depending a how far you are hauling.  4 hours a day for that work is long enough for the first week or two then gradually work your way up to an 8 hour day.  Do not think production for the first month or so... think safety.  Take two saws with you because chances are one is going to get jammed in a tree not just during falling but during bucking. Use wedges to keep the tree from leaning back and jamming your saw will save you a lot of time.  I work alone but really it is not the safe thing to do. Not being experience I would not work alone and get somebody that has lots of experience to teach you the ropes. Working in the woods is the most dangerous job in the world so take care.  things to be careful off....1. cutting a tree down and the top or big branches break off and kill you so look up before cutting a tree down.  2. spring polls, sapling get bent over when you fall a big tree on them.  Cutting the saplings off will under stress will come back at you and break your face. Releeve the stress by making about 5 little cuts in the spring loaded sapling. Check you tube for knowledge in fall trees...notching, spring polls, etc..  It is lots of fun but be careful.


John Mc

Some good points there, gaproperty

About the only one I'd urge caution on is trying to teach yourself by watching a Youtube video - unless you are positive that the author knows what he/she is doing.

If all you know about the author is that they posted a Youtube video, than all they have demonstrated is that they know how to make a video, not that they know how to safely fell a tree. There are some great videos on there, and some that basicaly show you how to be a disaster waiting to happen. The trouble is that someone new to felling may not be able to judge which is which - yes, some are obvious, but others maybe not so.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.   - Abraham Maslow


Yes the t-rex has its place and it was well built and works good .i have jumped up to the tractor and winch .it is a far better system more productive without having to kill myself lifting.i still use the bike and trailer just less and less .I have switched my focus from trying to get big production with more gear to just making a good living by myself .Less employees .I have one part time chopper when i am running the tractor who has a full time job who comes to the woods to just get away from everything and we work out good together .All that being said i think for the money i put into the tractor i could have bought a decent cable skidder and would have been another step up where i could still chug away by myself but would have had purpose built gear .just my two cents what works for me probably will not work for anyone else 


My ventures with an ATV setup would not be a livelihood, just keeping the woodlot healthy by thinning, bucking up windfalls and hard leaners and some firewood and a few fir logs. I have a lot of spruce to, but young. I like working around fir more so because it grows a lot faster and limb diameters are smaller. So pruning them will take 2 years to heal up instead of several. So anyway, I wouldn't be out there trying to kill myself for a buck. I would not be in huge timber 80 feet tall, my woods is young. I'm not going to live long enough for 80 footers 30" through at dbh. ;D
"No amount of belief makes something a fact." James Randi

1 Thessalonians 5:21

2020 Polaris Ranger 570 to forward firewood, Husqvarna 555 XT Pro, Stihl FS560 clearing saw and continuously thinning my ground, on the side. Grow them trees. (((o)))


If it's not too late to may consider a combination of methods..

In 2009 a severe wind-storm knocked-down 10 or 11 large fir trees in our woodlot and all I had to move logs (at the time) was my ATV and arch, so I de-limbed and bucked the trees then asked a logging company (who was already in the area) to skid logs for me/us.

Their rate was $110/hr; they came out with a yellow dozer with a grapple, and they were done in an hour (and some of these logs where in a hell-hole). He was truly a pro as seen by him making each move with the dozer productive. You may have to wait a couple days for them to re-position after an incidental stop, but a pro is "worth his weight in gold". 

I don't hesitate to call the professionals when it would save money in the long run.....and it usually does!
"We fight for and against not men and things as they are, but for and against the caricatures we make of them". Joseph Schumpeter


I never used an ATV- I have one now, but I never cut with it. We (me and the old man) used to cut fire wood together, him cutting, limbing up and junking it up, and me hauling it out. If there was no snow, I would lug the wood out on my shoulder (he cut it longer or shorter depending on how big it was), and if there was snow, he would junk it up in firewood lengths and I would pull it out in a fish box. We had short trails, never more then three or four hundred yards at the very longest (and that was long enough!), and we picked the better ground for cutting (though I do remember climbing out of some bloody hard old spots with a stick of wood on my shoulder, bogs and cuts and the like- where ever the wood looked good and we could get permission/permits- we cut a lot of blow downs by the highways)

If we only cut one cord in a full day it was a bad day. We got a cord out in a morning, hauled home (two or three trips at least) and unloaded before dinner time. Two people sped things up, but if you have a bike, and a decent saw you should be able to get at least two or three cords out in eight hours, four if you really beat her.


I log with my atv and log arch,although last weekend I used my cabbed tractor and chains.The heater was nice while twitching it was wicked cold
  You can be very productive I'f you plan ahead .fall your trees so they can be easily hooked up right on your skid roads.sometimes it's quicker to take one good sized log than to overload and struggle .The further you have to winch to the arch the slower you'll be.learn your technique to quick un hitching .mine is reverse slightly when you get there to slacken the chokers,un choke,then take off quick so they slide off the carrying chain.but that's my arch yours might be set up different
   I think of arching like the tv show axman and (the cables up the mountain side) .to be productive gotta have quick hookups and quick un hooks!!
   I enjoy using my atv but you need a tractor to pile up logs or you run out of room quick.a farmI winch  is on my wish list

Alan Bickford
Hammond lumber company/Yates American A20 planer with dbl profilers Newman feed table multiple saw trimmer destacker automatic stacking machine Baker resaw MS log corner machine  4 large capacity Nyles dehumidification kilns JCB 8000 lb forklifts woodmizer lt 15 and mp100 and blower

Rick Alger

I re-read all the posts and realized I had misread your intentions. Sounds like you are doing a semi-commercial thinning. As wiser folks  have said, don't get wrapped up in production. Your main product is the future stand, not the wood you take out now.

The pre-commercial thinning I did that is pictured on this site (under "spruce thinning" I think) worked out to be just a bit more than  a cord/day production. If you are very careful of residuals, minimize openings etc, you can't possibly come close to the production you would get in a regular harvest, but you can probably cover expenses and produce a healthy, valuable stand for the future.

Go slow and enjoy.

Rick Alger


Thanks again for the responses. 

The general consensus seems to be, after putting some time in, 1-1/2+ cords a day could be a good goal.  I do have a lot of work to put in before I even get felling.  One of the first things will be to get a forester on the property to put together a timber report.  I will also be joining WWOA (Wisconsin Woodland Owner Assoc).  My understanding is, they are good at doing onsite "education", with fellow members hosting on their woodlots. 


1983 LT 30, 1990 Kubota L3750DT, 2006 Polaris 500 EFI, '03 Dodge D2500 Cummins powered 4X4 long-bed crew cab, 1961 Ford backhoe, Stihl MS250, MS311 and MS661--I cut trees for my boss who was a Jewish carpenter!


Hey azmtnman,
  That is a good video. I watched the whole thing. Welcome NorthMid, and good luck! I've got dreams myself.
If I don't get too old first. :)  Safety is number one. I've got away with some dumb moves over the years with trees. It has taught me to go slow and easy and to recognize danger.
HFE-36; International 424-37HP; McCullogh Pro 10-10


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