All Posts February 13, 2023

Ponotoc (MS) Progress,
Monday, February 13, 2023 e-Edition,

There are approximately 142,000 acres of timberland in Pontotoc County. This resource is owned by around 2,400 individual forest landowners. This data indicates that an average landowner in Pontotoc County controls around 60 acres.

Due to small ownership acreages, most landowners sell timber from their land very infrequently. This unfamiliarity with the timber selling process can lead to costly errors.

The objective of this column will be to increase landowner knowledge about timber valuation and marketing. The references used include the following Mississippi State University Extension Service publications: “Managing the Family Forest in Mississippi”, “Marketing Your Timber: The Bidding Process” and “The Economic Contribution of Forestry and Forest Products: Pontotoc County.”

Increasing Knowledge.

Landowners that lack forestry knowledge can be at a disadvantage when selling timber. It is crucial for landowners to seek understanding about forestry principles to increase profits and enjoyment from their land holdings.

The MSU Extension Service provides research-based forestry information that can be obtained online at, by visiting your local Extension office, or by joining a county forestry association. The Mississippi Forestry Commission can provide advice and support as well.

Landowners can also increase their understanding of timber management by hiring a registered consulting forester. Research studies have indicated that timber sale income is increased when a consulting forester is utilized. Consulting foresters conduct timber inventories, administer timber sales, and provide forestry management planning for a fee. They are compensated by timber sale commissions or by individual jobs that are performed. A complete list of Mississippi registered foresters can be found at the following website

Know What It’s Worth

It is important to know what your timber is worth before starting the selling process. A good businessperson would never sell cars, houses, or other valuable items without an appraisal. Timber is no different. Knowing the value of timber will allow landowners to discern between low offers and acceptable offers.

A timber inventory, referred to as a timber cruise, should be conducted under the supervision of a registered forester. Important information obtained from a timber cruise includes total forested acres, timber volume, timber species, and timber quality. This data is combined with current prices to determine the total market value of a timber stand.


Sound timber marketing methods promote competition by requesting offers or bids from multiple timber buyers. This can be accomplished through negotiated sales or through sealed bid sales.

In negotiated sales, a per ton timber price is determined through discussions with buyers. This method is also referred to as a “pay-as-cut” sale. This practice can be useful when conducting a first thinning of a pine stand. The product that is harvested is relatively low value pulpwood that is difficult to inventory. A landowner without a timber appraisal can be at a disadvantage when selling high value timber through negotiated sales.

Using sealed bids involves requesting potential buyers to submit a confidential written offer. This is also called a “lump-sum” sale because the timber is normally paid for before it is harvested. This can be a preferred method when selling high value products including sawtimber, quality hardwood, and pine poles.

The services of a registered consulting forester can be beneficial when preparing and conducting bid sales. Consulting foresters will first perform a timber cruise to value the timber. A timber sale prospectus or advertisement will then be sent to an adequate number of potential buyers. A basic overview of information that should be included in a timber sale prospectus is below.

The name of the seller

Legal description and maps of the sale area

Description of the sale and administration procedures

Timber species and volumes being sold

Length of time that will be allowed for the timber to be harvested

Timber harvest restraints including if the job will be shut down due to weather

Instructions to facilitate payment

The basics of creating a timber marketing plan have been discussed. If you would like to learn more about forestry management or join the Pontotoc County Forestry Association call the Mississippi State University Extension Service office in Pontotoc County at 662-489-3910 or email me at