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How Much Are Maple Trees Worth?

How Much Are Maple Trees Worth?

In my forestry consulting business, I sometimes get calls from landowners who would like to know what their trees are worth… that’s a question that is not easily answered over the phone.

So, how much are maple trees worth? The value of maple trees depends on several factors. First, what species of maple is it?  A sugar maple or, hard maple, is much more valuable than a red or soft maple due to its hard wood. There are many species of maple.

A maple tree grown in the forest has a much different form that a maple grown in an open yard. A yard tree has to be appraised by a certified arborist and he or she can estimate the cost of replacement for that species and size plus add value to a property as a shade tree.

Mature trees in a yard are priceless in my opinion as they cannot be replaced, unless you have a spare 80 years to wait for it to mature. I will focus on timber prices for trees grown in the forest.

Next is quality. A maple tree, especially hard maple, has a tendency to branch profusely and retain its branches, spreading wide. This leaves a short bole, or trunk that yields a low amount of clear wood.

The next factor is the size of the trees and the amount or volume of timber in your woodlot or forest. The larger the diameter the tree, the more clear wood can be sawed from it.

If it has a perfect trunk with no defects for the first 10 feet, you may have a veneer quality log. The veneer grade is much more valuable on any species of tree.

Finally, one of the most important is the ability of the trees to be logged efficiently. There has to be enough volume to make the logging worth while.

It cost money and time for a logger to move equipment onto the job. There has to be room for a landing and a truck has to be able to get to the trees to load them and get them to mill or export yard. There are often permits that need to be obtained to truck logs or even to remove trees from a property.

In this post, we will discuss how maple timber is appraised and which trees are more valuable.  I will also provide a recent timber market report that is generated from data collected from sawmills, loggers and foresters and published by the Penn State Extension.

How Are Maple Trees Appraised?

To get an idea of what your trees are worth in your timber stand, I recommend hiring a consulting forester to cruise the timber. A timber cruise is a statistical sampling of your trees that will render an estimate of the number of trees, their size and quality, and the volume of sawn lumber expressed in Board Feet – a measure of volume that is a piece of wood sawn from a tree that is 1 inch thick and 12 inches on a side.

A Forester will measure the diameter and height of the log in a tree. A quality type will be assigned. Quality types could be pulpwood, grade 1,2 or 3 sawlogs or veneer.

Value can be anywhere from nothing to $1.60 per board foot for the best veneer. Keep in mind that veneer is not veneer unless a buyer looks at it on the ground and sees the entire log and its quality.

He then decides what he will pay or if he even wants it. A lot of landowners want to tell me they have veneer on their property, but even I can’t know for sure just by looking at the tree.

What is the Most Valuable Type of Maple Tree?

Soft maple is not used in flooring or cabinets much. Therefore, it doesn’t sell for as much.

Generally, we apply about 25 to 35 cents. As stated above, sugar or hard maple is more valuable selling for ten to eighty cents per board foot, depending on current markets and the quality.

How To Sell Maple Trees

How to sell your maple trees or any other timber.

  1. Determine whether you can get to the trees with equipment and if there is enough timber to have a logging job done. The diameter of most of the trees needs to be at least what your car wheel is.
  2. Contact the SAF or your state’s forestry department. They will have a list of consulting foresters you could contact.  You can do a search on the internet for forestry companies as well.
  3. Interview a few foresters and find one that is local and who you get a good feeling about. See my article on hiring a consulting forester.  https://chilcoteforester.com/how-to-choose-a-wildlife-consultant/
  4. Contract with your consultant. Communicate your main goals for your land and timber so he can give you the kind of logging job your want and get the most money for you sale.

How Can You Tell If a Maple Tree is Dying?

Usually, when a tree is dying, it will start to have die-back in the upper branches. If you see fungus, wood pecker holes or insect exit holes, then it probably is getting too late to harvest any quality wood.

Fungus moves quickly in maple trees and stains the wood, making it less desirable.  If your maples do not leaf out in spring, you should get them cut asap.

As long as the bark is tight, you can still sell it.  A salvage harvest may be warranted in cases where an insect infestation has hurt the general health of the trees.

Are Maple Trees Evergreen?

Maple trees are deciduous.  Not evergreen.

Conclusion

For more on what influences stumpage prices check out this article. https://chilcoteforester.com/timber-prices-what-affects-timber-prices-and-who-buys-our-timber/

Below is a 2019 stumpage price report created by Penn State Extension. These reports are a guideline. As you can see by the n values, not many people respond to the questionnaire and some are not truthful, so the data is not perfect.

Pennsylvania Stumpage Prices, 3Q 2019, vs. 3Q 2018

Species NE 3Q2019 Average (#n ) NE 3Q2018 SE
3Q2019 Average (#n )
SE 3Q2018 NW
3Q2019 Average (#n )
NW 3Q2018 SW
3Q2019 Average (#n )
SW 3Q2018
Northern Red Oak $382 (9) $492 $473 (15) $514 $370 (21) $551 $340 (8) $323
White Oak $321 (8) $393 $465 (14) $418 $371 (19) $382 $328 (8) $279
Mixed Oak $312 (8) $313 $360 (15) $333 $217 (19) $287 $242 (7) $191
Black Cherry $604 (5) $792 NA (0) NA $536 (28) $884 $277 (5) $228
White Ash $295 (3) $339 $237 (3) $255 $161 (19) $269 $101 (3) $94
Hard Maple $366 (4) $370 $318 (6) $251 $323 (23) $414 $168 (3) $192
Soft Maple $237 (9) $287 $213 (12) $194 $215 (31) $254 $211 (6) $140
Yellow-Poplar $222 (4) $185 $276 (12) $280 $129 (13) $152 $202 (5) $139
Misc. Hardwoods $93 (9) $115 $185 (15) $152 $70 (28) $87 $110 (6) $84
White Pine $132 (1) $225 $130 (3) $110 $45 (4) NA $85 (2) $69
Hemlock $80 (3) $75 NA (0) NA $36 (4) $9 $69 (1) $69