During July of 2006, a field session on merchandising ponderosa pine was held on Bowers tree farm in the Coburg Hills, about 10 miles north of Eugene. The primary focus of the session was to educate landowners about potential buyers for ponderosa pine in addition to their location and scaling procedures. Historically, the only viable pine markets have been in Douglas and Josephine Counties and east of the Cascades. Currently, options remain relatively few, but at least one additional option has surfaced over the past year.
Photo by Dave Shaw
Insect killed ponderosa pine logs leaving Steve Bowers landing on his property in the Coburg Hills.
Interfor, the former Champion mill in Gilchrist, is receiving pine logs in the Dexter area, about 10 miles east of Eugene. This represents an interesting option for pine sellers. Although located west of the Cascades, Interfor purchases logs based on eastside scale. The question for sellers is to compare the lower $/MBF and additional scale for eastside purchase orders versus a higher $/MBF but less scale on the westside. It is beyond the scope of this report to discuss the niceties of scaling rules, but if a range of conversions can be determined, sellers can make a calculated decision on which option to pursue. Limited discussions with eastside buyers reveal a range of 16 to 26% additional scale when scaling by eastside rules. Purchase orders around the state are relatively uniform: quotes on pine logs are similar to Douglas-fir and whitewoods. Today, the vast majority of purchase orders are based on diameter breaks rather than log grade, as was done in the past. There are also buyers who purchase pine on a camp run basis. By understanding the differences in eastside versus westside rules, sellers can reasonably determine a conversion ratio for their logs and act accordingly.
Based on diameter breaks, there is a fairly extensive range in values for ponderosa pine logs. Eastside scale logs under 12Ē diameter will rarely surpass $200/MBF while 20Ē logs may exceed $500.Westside values range in the $350 to $600+ range. With fairly low values/MBF and the increased cost in trucking, it is quite possible, but not always the rule, that the proximity of the mill or sort yard is the primary factor in determining a buyer. For sellers in the Willamette Valley, the proximity of Interfor and its eastside scaling rules becomes a viable option when comparing greater values, but substantially more hauling costs when accessing markets in the southern part of the state. Itís a simple rule that sellers sometimes forget: it isnít the $/MBF listed on the purchase order, itís the NET $/MBF of getting those logs to their destination.