Whether you have a few valuable hardwood trees in your yard or several acres of forested land, there are companies that will buy your trees for lumber. However, determining the price you can get for your trees is tricky because the selling price for trees varies not only by tree type but also geographical location and several other factors. To learn how to sell your trees, including who you need to contact and how much money you may be able to get for them, see below.
In This Article
What You Need to Know Before Selling Trees
Finding the right company to buy your trees depends on whether you’re selling a few trees from your yard or multiple trees from a wooded lot. Most companies that buy trees for lumber are looking for volume, but there are a few options available if you’re looking to sell a single tree or a few trees from your property
In order to understand how to sell your trees, there are a few terms you should be familiar with:
- Logs: Some sawmills and timber buyers will buy trees as logs, which are trees that have already been cut down. However, felling and transporting trees is a dangerous and expensive process that requires specialized equipment. It’s not recommended to sell your trees as logs.
- Sawlogs: All softwood trees such as pine, cedar, and spruce, and hardwood tree logs without visual appeal are sold as sawlogs.
- Standing timber: This refers to growing trees that will be removed from the property by the buyer. Most people who want to sell trees offer “standing timber” for sale.
- Stand trees: This refers to multiple trees in wooded areas, usually across an acre or several acres.
- Stumpage: This refers to the price you can get for your trees. Stumpage can be measured in acreage for very large tracts of wooded land, but, in most cases, it’s measured in unit terms of per thousand board feet (MBF). Sometimes, “stumpage” and “standing timber” are used interchangeably.
- Timber buyer: A company that buys trees from property owners is referred to as a “timber buyer.” Most timber buyers harvest trees and either sell them to sawmills or operate their own sawmills and produce wood products, including construction-ready lumber, pulp products, sawdust, and more.
- Veneer logs: Hardwood trees such as oak, maple, cherry, and walnut may contain veneer logs, which is wood with a visually appealing grain. Timber buyers typically offer a higher price for veneer logs.
- Yard trees: If you’re only selling a single tree or a few trees on your property that are easily accessible, this is the term to use when dealing with buyers.
How Much Can You Sell Trees For?
Pricing varies widely based on several factors, including the type and size of the trees and the quality and health of the wood. Other considerations are the company you’re working with and what state you live in. Below, we’ll look at ways to estimate the quantity of wood you have available to sell and determine approximately how much money you may be able to get for your trees. We contacted several timber buyers and sawmills across several states and researched industry websites to obtain this information.
Estimating Your MBF (Thousand Board Feet)
Most standing timber is sold using a measurement called MBF, or thousand board feet. A single board foot measures one foot wide, one foot long, and one inch thick.
One important factor to note is that MFB calculates the number of usable board feet in a tree. That means trees affected by rot or those with hollow cores will have fewer MFB and will fetch a lower price than healthy trees. Additionally, some types of trees contain both sawlogs and veneer logs, which are valued differently.
Though it’s almost impossible to determine MFB without having a timber buyer or qualified forester physically inspect the tree, you can get a rough estimate by measuring a tree’s diameter and the “merchantable” height of the tree. Merchantable refers to the total height of a tree to the point where either the diameter tapers to 10 inches or the tree is heavily branched or defected.
Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences website has several charts available to help you estimate MFB on its Measuring Standing Trees page. As an example, a healthy tree with a 28-inch diameter and a merchantable height of 32 feet would yield 520 board feet or around 0.5 MFB.
You can also use this formula to estimate board feet: (D-4)2 x L / 16 (where D is the diameter in inches and L is the length in feet).
Selling Prices for Different Types of Trees
There are many factors that go into calculating the selling price of your trees, and it’s impossible to know how much you can get for them until a buyer physically inspects the trees. The amount of money you can get for your trees depends on:
- Accessibility: The ease of getting to and harvesting your trees factors into the price a timber buyer will pay. Land slope, soil moisture conditions, and distance to the nearest road are typical determination factors for accessibility.
- Geographical location: Prices for standing timber vary by state, depending on how common certain types of trees are in your area and the local market value for the wood.
- Property location: If your trees are located near sawmills or timber buyers, you can usually get a higher price, since the wood doesn’t have to be transported very far.
- Size: Larger trees are often worth more money.
- Tree health and quality: Solid, healthy trees with attractive wood grains sell for higher prices than low-quality or damaged trees.
- Tree type: Generally speaking, hardwoods like oak, walnut, and cherry are worth more than pine, cedar, firs, and other softwoods.
Although you can’t get a specific price for your trees without a physical inspection from a qualified buyer, we’ve listed a rough pricing guide by type of tree below. We reached out to several timber buyers to ask about pricing. Keep in mind that these are estimates only.
- Black Cherry: $600 to $800 per MBF
- California Redwood: $500 to $700 per MBF
- Douglas Fir: $150 to $250 per MBF
- Hard Maple: $600 to $800 per MBF
- Pine: $10 to $20 per MBF
- Red Oak: $350 to $500 per MBF
- Red Pine: $50 to $150 per MBF
- Soft Maple: $300 to $500 per MBF
- Walnut: $800 to $1,500 per MBF
- White Ash: $150 to $350 per MBF
- White Oak: $300 to $500 per MBF
- White Pine: $60 to $90 per MBF
You may be able to find more specific pricing examples in your area by entering “stumpage pricing for [tree type] in [your state]” into a search engine. However, the best way to get an accurate estimate is to contact a timber buyer or forester.
Companies That Buy Trees for Lumber
There are many companies across the country that buy standing timber. The easiest way to find a buyer for your trees is to contact your state’s forestry department. Every state maintains a list of timber buyers, sawmills, and professional foresters you can contact to sell your trees. The United States Department of Agriculture’s forest services offers an interactive state-by-state map of timber price information and contacts. Below is a partial list of places where you can sell your trees.
Companies That Buy Stand Trees/Multiple Trees
If you own several acres of wooded land, the USDA recommends that you work with a professional forester to sell your trees. Foresters offer a number of services to help you with the sale, including evaluating your trees and obtaining bids from multiple buyers so you can get the best possible price. Foresters will also make arrangements with the timber-buying company to harvest the wood and collect payment. Foresters typically work on commission and receive a percentage of the sale — usually 10 to 15 percent, depending on the state. You can find a local forester by contacting your local county extension office through the National Association of State Foresters website or by using the interactive state map from the USDA.
Another option for selling multiple trees is to contact timber buyers directly. The USDA offers lists of timber buyers by state, or you can search for a regional timber buyer online. Here is a selection of regional timber buyers to get you started:
- Midwest: Midwest Hardwood Corporation
- Missouri: American Walnut
- New Hampshire and Vermont: Stillwater Forestry, LLC
- New York and Pennsylvania: Gutchess Lumber
- Northwest region (Washington, Oregon): Cascade Hardwood
- Southeast region (North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida): Canal Wood
- Western U.S.: Sierra Pacific Industries
Companies That Buy Yard Trees
If you have one or a few large hardwood trees in your yard that you’re looking to sell, you can follow the same process listed above. However, keep in mind, yard trees are often valued lower than stand trees because of the higher potential for damage to the tree and the difficulty of removing yard trees without causing property damage.
Locate and contact local timber buyers or foresters to ask about where and how to sell your hardwood yard trees. In some states, only licensed timber buyers can buy yard trees because of the potential property damage, so you should contact your state forestry department to learn about the laws that apply.
Alternate Ways to Sell Your Trees for Lumber
If you have low-value trees or trees that you simply want to be removed from your property, there are a few alternatives available to help you get trees removed for free and make a little money on the side.
Sell Your Trees offers tree buying and tree removal services throughout the continental United States. Although the company buys mostly hardwoods, it will also remove unwanted low-quality trees for no additional charge if it buys trees from your property.
Listing your trees on Craigslist can also help you sell them if you’re more interested in having them removed than making a lot of money. You can typically find local wood buyers willing to come to your property and remove unwanted trees for lumber or firewood by advertising on Craigslist.
The process of selling your trees for lumber and the amount of money you can get for them depends on the type and quantity of trees you’re selling, the state you live in, the location and condition of your trees, and many other factors. However, you can find a list of qualified buyers through your state’s forestry department or local county extension office.