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#3626 - 01/08/07 02:09 PM When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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Registered: 02/22/99
Posts: 116
Loc: Center of the Universe
For years now I've been of the persuaion that harvesting timber (trees) in winter is advantageous to higher quality and more stable material. The common knowledge has always been that's when the "sap is down".

For Christmas I received a small handbook called "Musson's Improved Lumber and Log Pocket Book". It is a reprint originally published in 1905. In it there is a section titled "Proper Time for Cutting Timber" which states that if oak, hickory or chestnut timber is felled in August, in the second running of the sap, and barked, it will season perfectly, even a large tree. Whereas that cut in winter and remaining till next fall, will be completely sap-rotten, and unfit for any purpose almost.

I'm curious if anyone has heard this before, or if anyone knows a source of written material that contradicts it or supports winter harvest?

Looking forward to any replies.

Rudy R. Christian

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#3627 - 01/08/07 02:42 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Joel McCarty Offline
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Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 344
Loc: Alstead Center NH USA
Our brothers and sisters at the Gewerbe Akademie in Rottweil (GER) have as part of their curriculum a chart that I have been provelaged to view; it links time of harvest (season) and even phase of moon to the felling of particular species of timber, for a particular purpose.

This is not presented as some sort of new-age vodoo, but as solid traditonal practice.

It sounds like Rudy has found something similar for North America.

I wonder if earlier versions of the USDA Handbook would have something along these lines.

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#3628 - 01/08/07 03:10 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Gabel Offline

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Registered: 11/18/03
Posts: 687
Loc: Georgia
Rudy,

I am curious what is meant by "season perfectly" and if a time frame is specified or implied.

Gabel
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Gabel

www.holderbros.com

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#3629 - 01/08/07 03:13 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Joel McCarty Offline
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Registered: 03/13/02
Posts: 344
Loc: Alstead Center NH USA
'privelaged'

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#3630 - 01/08/07 07:36 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
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Registered: 02/22/99
Posts: 116
Loc: Center of the Universe
Gabel,

There's no explanation given but I would guess they are referring to "air drying". I may be wrong.

The pocket book does say it is based in J.M. Scribner's Log Book which was published in 1900. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy with no luck so far.

Rudy

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#3631 - 01/09/07 06:46 AM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
crabtreecreek Offline
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Registered: 09/08/04
Posts: 37
Loc: va
I am interested in a good answer to this question as well. What imes are best for hardwoods and what times are best for softwoods.

What role do daytime and night time temperatures play as well as moon phase and snow/rainfall. It has been exteremly wet and warm here in central VA this winter. The hickory trees have buddded and daffodils are trying to bloom.

Cut a red oak yesterday and it was so wet inside the water spurted out the end grain when I split it.

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#3632 - 01/09/07 08:00 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Bob Spoerl Offline
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Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 69
Loc: Derry , NH
I have emailed Harvard Forest for enlightenment on this subject. If you have never been it is a great repository of forest information.

One of the reason winter was considered best is the bugs would not attack until warmer weather. Storing the logs in water kept them at bay in warmer weather and it kept the wood wet which was easier sawing with the older blades (like here at the up and down mill). Modern bandsaw don't have the same issues and they can lubricate the blade if the wood is exceptionally dry. Wood cut in the winter will dry faster because the cold air holds less moisture thus the wood gives up more water to balance moisture content.

bob

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#3635 - 01/13/07 10:30 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Mark Davidson Offline
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Registered: 11/12/03
Posts: 1121
Loc: Keene,Ontario, Canada
there is no substitute for spending some time cutting trees throughout the year. I find in this area(ontario) that I can cut hardwoods if the leaves are full and green or no leaves at all(winter or summer).
softwoods are best in the winter, but I've cut lots of softwood in the summer, just have to deal with the sap. Probably the worst time to cut any tree is in the spring, fall is better but you have to watch because the sap is travelling down to the roots and things can get quite sticky in the fall as well.

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#3636 - 01/13/07 11:09 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Timber Goddess Offline
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Registered: 12/04/05
Posts: 574
Loc: Golden, B.C.
privileged
:p

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#3637 - 01/17/07 05:51 PM Re: When is the best time to harvest timber?
Rudy R Christian Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/22/99
Posts: 116
Loc: Center of the Universe
I finally got my copy of the Lumber and Log Book by J.M. Scribner. It's an 1882 copy. It states "The most suitable time for felling timber is that in which vegetation is at rest." It goes on to say midsummer and midwinter are both suitable and that "Some experiments are in progress with a view to determine the question (summer vs. winter felling) with regard to oak timber for ordnance purposes". I would assume they were referring to cannon carriages.

Looks like I better dust off the time machine and try to find the results of those "experiments".

Rudy

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