Marketing your Wood to Firewood Dealers
By Ernie Reimer, EJ Reimer Enterprises Ltd
Selling roundwood from your own woodlot to a firewood dealer can be a profitable business. As a woodlot owner you may be asking, “What kind of wood is a firewood dealer interested in and how much will they pay?” The following are some tips for woodlot owners interested in cutting their own wood to sell to firewood dealers as roundwood cords.
Types of Wood
Species that are sought after by firewood dealers include birch, ash, oak, Tamarack, Jack Pine and White Poplar. Red Pine, and White or Black Spruce can also be sold, but they do not have a high heat value and are harder to sell. Black Poplar and Balsam Spruce are very-low quality woods and very tough to sell.
Consistency is the key when selling wood to firewood dealers.
It is hard to separate dry trees from green trees once they have been cut down and stacked up as logs. Therefore, the length of time the wood you are selling has been seasoned should be consistent.
When cutting trees down, make sure that the flares on the butt ends are cut away, and that all the limbs are cut flush with the trunk of the tree. There should not be any “Y”s, and the wood should be as straight as possible.
You may think that when the wood is cut and split, it does not matter how crooked the tree was. But if the firewood dealer is using a wood-splitting machine, having crooked trees to work with makes it very difficult to split the wood.
Ideally, you should keep the wood diameter at 12 inches and under. The top end of the tree can measure in at a two-inch diameter, as long as it is straight. When cutting the wood to length, make sure that the measurement is between 96 and 102 inches. A few shorter pieces per cord are okay, but again, processing mixed-in short wood makes it difficult.
If you want to sell your wood in 16-foot lengths, make sure that you have a solid commitment from a dealer before you stage your wood, as most dealers are looking for eight-foot lengths.
The most important part about staging your wood is making sure that you can access it in wet and dry conditions. You do not want to be pushed into making a sale in only certain seasons.
Also, when staging the wood to have a dealer pick it up, it is helpful if you can get two trucks side by side for loading. To ensure that trucks have proper clearance, it is important to watch for sharp corners and overhead lines and branches that are under 14 feet.
The most important rule about delivering your wood to firewood dealers is to ensure that the buyer knows exactly what you are selling. Firewood should be firewood, of course, but it is never that simple. It is costly to show up with a load and be rejected.
For example, if you show up with a load of poplar that has a high percentage of Black Poplar when the dealer was expecting White Poplar, you may lose the sale entirely or have your price knocked down on the spot.
Seasoned or Not Seasoned
It is always easier to sell seasoned wood, but the prepared firewood dealer can also buy wood green. For seasoned wood, make sure that it has had at least one summer of drying time. Some types of wood, such as ash or oak, need more time.
The length of time required to season 8-foot roundwood is dependent on many factors. Wood species, diameter of the wood, staging conditions, and seasonal conditions all influence seasoning. Therefore, it is always good to sell wood based on when it was cut down rather than if it is seasoned or not. Let the buyer decide if it is seasoned enough for them.
Most firewood dealers tend to buy their wood between January and June. The problem for most firewood dealers is that they can’t afford to buy enough wood during the off-season, so they buy their wood as they go. If you can find a dealer who sells bagged wood, you have a better chance of selling throughout the year, but almost all dealers want their wood well-seasoned.
There are also many factors affecting the price a firewood dealer is willing to pay for your wood. Their end-product (bagged vs. roundwood), the species of wood, whether you deliver or they pick-up, and the distance they have to travel all affect the price you will receive. For pricing you will have to contact the individual dealer to negotiate.
If you follow these guidelines you should be able to make a good business at selling roundwood from your own woodlot to firewood dealers.Ernie Reimer operates his firewood business on Hwy 44 near Tyndall, Manitoba. For more details, see www.ejreimer.com. Posted January 2014.