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Board Feet Calculation by Parts of Tree

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From: Mike R.
Monticello, IN
I'm trying to estimate the board footage of my trees so that I can be educated before I sell them. From what I've read, I've gathered that the most valuable part is the straight part from the stump to the first large branches. This is cut into 12'-16' sawlogs or veneer logs (right?).

But what about the rest of the tree? For example, if I'm looking at two trees, one that is a 80' tall lawn-grown red oak with a large limb 15' up, and the other is a 60' tall forest-grown red oak with no large limbs until 30'-40' up. Should I be dividing the board footage into different categories depending on the part of the tree it comes from (main trunk or branches), or is there some other method I should be using?

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
The most valuable part of a standing tree is the butt log, or the first 16-ft log above the stump on the main bole. Sawlogs and veneer logs are cut to various lengths depending upon the location of defects on the external face of the logs, diameter inside bark (DIB), product class, and market segment demand.

Logs are frequently bucked to lengths of 8'6", 9', 10', 12', 14' -- certain markets may want/demand logger log lengths, such as the timber mat construction market. Granted, shorter logs can be cut and sold -- again, depends on the buyer and the market. Oh, and don't forget DIB, or diameter inside bark, when bucking your logs for grade!

Uppers, or top logs, and limb logs are bucked via the exact same fashion as butt logs and lowers. Uppers tend to have a little more sweep, smaller diameters, more external face defects, and shorter log lengths compared to butt logs.

Please refer to these Extension Forestry publications for additional information:

Univ. of Tennessee, “A Hardwood Log Grading Handbook”

Purdue Univ., “Buck your Logs to NHLA Rules”

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