When you should harvest your forest

Forests offer some flexibility. You can decide when to harvest based on market conditions and contractor availability. Seasonal factors, such as weather or other farm operations, along with carbon liabilities may also influence when you harvest.

Market conditions

The amount you get paid for your logs depends on:

  • log prices at the time of harvest
  • contractor availability
  • fuel costs
  • shipping costs
  • foreign exchange rates
  • supply and demand in domestic and export log and lumber markets.

Tree age

Radiata pine is generally harvested between the ages of 25 and 30 years. The most important tree characteristics to optimise harvest returns are size and quality in relation to your nearest log markets.

Contractor availability

You can only harvest your woodlot if contractors are available to do the work. Contractors may need to be booked well ahead of your planned harvest dates.

Sometimes the fixed costs of harvesting woodlots can be shared between neighbouring woodlots. For example, if it's expensive to transport equipment into your area it might make sense to harvest several woodlots at once.

Time of year

Harvesting occurs all year round. However, small woodlots may need to be harvested during dry weather to minimise roading costs. For example, logging trucks may need to be driven over dry paddocks.