I was recently asked by a client to assist him in thinning his 15 year old Loblolly Pine plantation located in Talbot County, GA. The tract was +- 208 acres in size. The area with the planted pines consisted of 173 acres. See the following aerial photograph.
The stand had an initial basal area of 135 feet of basal area. The planted pines were genetically improved Loblolly Pines. The pines were planted in rows which helped with the mechanized thinning operation. The following photograph shows the planted stand prior to thinning.
The harvesting operation consisted of conventional equipment including a feller-buncher, skidder, knuckle-boom loader and trucks.
The soils were average for the area with site indexes ranging from 74-93. See the following soils map. Talbot County was heavy farmed years ago with the predominant crop being cotton. As a result, many of the soils are just average in productivity. You can look up this type information for your property using the following link…. Web Soil Survey
The target basal area for the residual stand was 70 feet of basal area. See the following picture showing the stand after thinning. We removed every 4th row and did some thinning in the remaining rows to hit our target basal area.
We ended up thinning 4,633,tons from the property, averaging about 26.78 tons per acre. Some of the areas had poor survival and an abundance of hardwood competition. Of course the amount harvested per acre varied depending on soil productivity. The better soils generated 35 tons per acre and the poorer soils generated 21 tons per acre.
If you own timberland, manage your trees and by far planted pines will yield the highest ROI. There has been lots of genetic research done on Loblolly Pines so there are some really great trees available to the public. Grow them quickly and thin often! Put your land to work for you!!
G. Kent Morris
Accredited Land Consultant
Associate Broker, Bickerstaff Parham Real Estate