Each year many landowners receive substantial earnings by properly marketing mature trees from their woodland. However, many other woodland owners receive only a fraction of the real value for their timber because they do not follow recommended marketing guidelines.
- Secure the services of a professional forester to help manage your woodland and market your timber. In Iowa, the Department of Natural Resources has District Foresters stationed at 13 locations across the state to provide on-the-ground assistance to landowners interested in managing their woodland resources. In addition, there are several private consulting foresters doing business in the state who provide professional services for a fee.
- Maintain control of your woodland during the harvesting and marketing process. Make sure that you, in consultation with your professional forester, select the trees to market; don't allow timber buyers to choose the trees to be harvested. Selling young, small diameter, rapidly growing, high quality trees is not recommended. For example, high value species such as walnut or oak can earn a very high rate of return as they grow from a diameter of 16 inches to 22 inches or larger. In the process of adding six inches in diameter, the volume of the first 16-foot log will double and the value per unit of volume may triple or quadruple; this growth may increase the value of the larger tree by a factor of six or eight.
- Sell your timber as standing trees, and secure competitive bids from bonded timber buyers. Advertise the trees that you have marked to as many bonded buyers as possible, and invite sealed bids for the timber. Reserve the right to reject any or all bids.
- Sign a legal contract with the successful bidder, and make sure that full payment is received before harvest begins. Monitor the logging operation, and make sure the logger understands that your woodland is important to you and that minimal damage will be appreciated.