Values of Longleaf Pine
Value from Wood Products: Longleaf is known for producing great quality lumber that has strength, durability and appearance. In addition to providing pulp wood from thinning, a well-managed longleaf stand can produce excellent quality utility poles starting at age 30 – 35. Trees bought for utility poles provide much higher prices than trees bought for pulp.
Risk Aversion: An important characteristic of longleaf is its ability to withstand threats from insects, wind, and fire. For example, the southern pine bark beetle does not infest longleaf, probably because it responds with its heavy resin flow. Studies following Hurricane Rita and Katrina found better survivability with longleaf compared to slash and loblolly. Longleaf terminal buds are protected by the needles from fire most months of the year. Although it will succumb to intense fires it has a better survivability than both slash and loblolly to fire. These characteristics can de-risk a timber portfolio.
Low Up Front Costs / Offset Returns: Cost share programs provide incentives for land owners to defray the initial investment with a new longleaf stand. Many east Texas counties are part of the NRCS Longleaf Initiative where reimbursements can exceed 70% of the actual cost. Check with your local NRCS service center and also the foresters with the Texas A&M Forest Service to get assistance on land planning and cost share programs. Depending on the soils selected, the first thinning enjoyed on loblolly stands may not occur on longleaf stands at the same time interval. Some producers consider this offset by the incentive payments at establishment.
Investment Analysis Assumptions: Owners are encouraged to consider their objectives for their land. How do you want to enjoy your land and how do you want it to look? Consider how a young timber stands closes in as it ages. Are you planting young pine trees strictly to generate income? Are you planning this income for you or your heirs? How much income can be expected at the first thinning in 15 years? How much income will be generated at 20 years or 30 years? Ask a timber consultant to show the investment costs and realistic income to be expected from various timber species and planting densities.
Wildlife Benefits Analyses: Owners can have a wildlife specialist describe the species that will occupy their timber land under various timber management scenarios. Plant longleaf or loblolly thick and don’t burn or thin and you can expect a very limited wildlife experience. Consider how the ground vegetation changes over time as the sunlight decreases on the forest floor. Understanding those changes in the vegetation can help you decide species selection, planting density, and the thinning and burning frequency. Will you enjoy your land if its too thick to walk through it or see into it? Will you be more satisfied with rows of pines that have a pine needle ground cover or a stand that has a diverse herbaceous under story? How do you want your land to look in the next 5 years? 10 years?