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Garden Guru

Trees and lumber

Jim Boxberger
Posted 8/11/23

We recently had some trees cut down at our new house in Eldred. Three of the pine trees we had cut were easily seventy-five feet tall and overhanging utility lines. So needless to say, we hired a …

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Garden Guru

Trees and lumber


We recently had some trees cut down at our new house in Eldred. Three of the pine trees we had cut were easily seventy-five feet tall and overhanging utility lines. So needless to say, we hired a tree service to do the work. I’m good at cutting down small trees, but these were monsters. The picture above is my hand on the stump of one of the pine trees. In total we had around twelve trees cut down, but a few of them were nice oak trees that were sold off for lumber and the proceeds used to reduce our bill. 

A few years ago I wrote a column about black walnuts that I had harvested from a roadside tree. A year later someone had cut the tree down and chunked it up for firewood. Even if firewood is going for three hundred dollars a cord, the price they could have gotten for the lumber would be a lot more. When the timber markets are up, which they still are since Covid, you can make a pretty penny selling your timber. 

Something that someone didn’t know when they cut down that roadside black walnut tree for firewood. Instead of selling the tree, which in a good market could fetch over a thousand dollars, they cut it down for a cord or two of firewood, obviously not knowing what the tree is worth. This sort of thing happens quite frequently here in Sullivan County. One hundred and forty years ago, in the late eighteen hundreds, most of the county was clear cut of all the forests, as the wood was used for building a new nation. Hemlock bark was used by the tanneries in the area to make leather. Logs were rafted down the Delaware River to Philadelphia to mills for building America. So the forests we have today are mostly made up of trees that supplanted the native trees that once covered the county. 

Then came the vast numbers of immigrant farmers to the county and besides planting fruit trees, they also planted chestnuts, walnuts and hazelnuts. Nut trees take much longer to produce crops compared to fruit trees, but since family farms were meant to be passed down from father to son, the nut trees would produce for further generations. However over time family farms were sold or lost during the depression and the nut trees were forgotten, left to be considered just another nice shade tree. As old farms are sub-divided and developed with new single family homes, many of these old nut trees are being cut for development. And even when someone buys an old farm today, they don’t know what they really have. Sure apple and pear trees, even unkept, will produce some fruit each year, but many nut trees only produce once every five to ten years depending on the season. So many people do not know what type of tree they really have. Walnuts, English, white or black, can be worth quit a bit of money to the right loggers. 

Cut properly to maximize board feet, a good logger, can get a good bit of money for a thirty or forty foot tree. I have a wood lot over in Callicoon Center that was once part of my family’s old homestead. Every couple of years, my family and I, would go over for an old-fashion wood bee. We used to cut firewood for our wood stoves, but my uncle, who has now passed, was an experienced logger and cut valuable trees to sell as well. The proceeds of the tree sales were enough to pay the taxes on the land for many years. My uncle knew what trees were worth money and which were just firewood. So if you don’t know what type of trees you have around your house it may be worth your time right now to do a little research. Throwing the wrong type of wood into your stove could be just like burning money.


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