Blogging Logging 12 – Timber products and buyers

Wisconsin’s logging businesses produce a diverse array of forest products, but hardwood pulp has been the largest portion of the volume harvested: 44% in 2003 and 49% in 2010.  This dominance reflects continued demand from the region’s substantial pulp and paper industry and an abundant hardwood forest resource.  Though Perry (2011) indicated a negative percent change in the volume of aspen on forestland from 2005 to 2010, one of the primary species utilized in the pulp and paper industry.  Softwood pulp accounted for around a quarter of volume removed from the landscape, though slightly less than this in 2010.  The percent of volume of hardwood sawlog stumpage removals, hardwood sawtimber is the primary source of existing timber volume on the landscape (Perry 2011) remained consistent between 2003 and 2010 at 14%.

A new category of product, woody biomass for pellets or bioenergy production was assessed in 2010 and accounted for an average 2% of volume removed by logging businesses in our study. This is equal to the percent of veneer removal in that year.


The mix of forest products harvested, not surprisingly, varied, by harvest system in 2010.  For each system, hardwood pulp accounted for over 40% of the volume harvested; however, the similarities end there.  By harvest system, hardwood sawtimber comprised over a quarter of the volume harvested by chainsaw-based businesses, with overall hardwood volumes (both pulp and sawlogs) accounting for 71% and overall sawtimber production accounting for over 1/3rd of the volume harvested. Veneer was another sizable component at 6%.

Feller-buncher systems also cut sizable volumes of hardwood sawtimber and softwood pulp (both 17%). They also cut equal amounts of softwood sawlogs and woody biomass (10%).

Cut-to-length and multiple system businesses cut somewhat similar amounts of hardwood sawlogs and softwood pulp and hardwood. Of note, logging businesses using multiple systems harvested by the largest amount of “other” products.


Given the diversity of forest products harvested in Wisconsin, there are equally diverse markets for these products.  On average, loggers delivered 70% of their 2010 harvested volume to pulp and paper mills, nearly 14% to large sawmills (those with annual production of 5 million board feet or greater), and 9% to small sawmills (those with annual production of less than 5 million board feet per acre).  This is quite similar to that harvested in 2003, except for a slightly larger percentage of the 2003 harvest going to pulp and paper production (74%).  An additional market outlet, pellet or bioenergy plant or mill was added for 2010 survey and accounted for nearly 4% of the harvested volume.


As was the case for the 2010 products harvested, markets varied by harvesting system.  Sawmills were relied on for over a quarter of the volume produced by chainsaw-based and feller-buncher systems (33% and 26%, respectively).  Nearly 3/4 of the volume harvested by cut-to-length and multiple systems went to pulp and paper mills. Volumes delivered to pellet or bioenergy plants or mills was greatest by feller-buncher and multiple system users, a notable 19% for the former and 6% of the latter.  Also coinciding with the previous product analysis, 5% of 2010 chainsaw based harvest volume went to log buyers.


Complete index for this series:


  1. Introduction
  2. Harvest systems & production volumes
  3. Profitability & production capacity
  4. Factors affecting profitability
  5. Business demographics
  6. Employees and contractors
  7. Capital investment
  8. Distance and hauling
  9. Certification
  10. Timber sales
  11. Source of timber supply
  12. Timber products and buyers
  13. Interest in biomass harvesting
  14. Survey methods and response
  15. Summary

Authors: Mark Rickenbach (UW-Madison/Extension) and Melinda Vokoun (UW-Stevens Point) [contact info at links]

The Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, which is now part of the Wisconsin Energy Institute, provided initial funding for 2011 logging sector survey. Additional support was provided through the Renewable Resources Extension Act and the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program, both of the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture. We appreciate the assistance of Tom Steele, Grace Maples, and Sarah Traver in helping bring this project to completion.


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