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 both 2010 and 2016. This dominance reflects continued demand from the region’s pulp and paper industry and abundant hardwood forests. In general, the distribution of harvested products is fairly stable across the three reporting periods (see below), except for decline in softwood pulp since 2003.
Of course, the type of harvesting operation — hand-felling versus mechanized — is a key determinant in what a logging business might cut in a year. Hand-felling is optimized when cutting sawtimber, particularly higher quality trees. In further looking at products harvested in 2016 by annual volume harvest category we consider hand-felling and mechanized businesses separately.
Starting with hand-felling (figure below), the small number of businesses only allowed us to subdivide annual volume production into three categories (100-1,000; 1,001-5,000; and 5,001+ cords). Surprisingly, hardwood pulp was the largest share of volume for the smallest category, with pulp overall accounting for ~57% of the volume. Hardwood pulp was important for the two larger categories, but the largest share of harvested timber was hardwood sawtimber (as expected) at around 44% for each. Notably, veneer made up 11% of the volume for businesses cutting over 5,001 cords. This is roughly twice that for the two smaller categories.
For mechanized logging businesses, pulpwood was the largest component of the volume harvested (see below). Across annual volume categories, roughly half of total production was hardwood pulp, while softwood accounted for 15-25%. The overall portion of sawtimber production (hardwood + softwood) declines with increasing overall production.
Author: Mark Rickenbach
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