As we anticipate the snow to start flying, we begin to prepare our winter logging grounds, getting them prepped and ready by opening roads and log landings. Winter is a very important time of the year for logging as we try to ensure we acquire enough logs to carry the mill through spring break up. During the springtime roads get posted with lower haul limits and very little logging takes place so we need to plan accordingly.
Winter logging in low wet areas is dependent on the amount of cold weather we get before the snow. Loggers use equipment to drive frost into the ground so their forwarders and log trucks have stable roads to run on throughout the winter. If they can’t get the frost in the ground, they risk the likelihood of rutting the roads and accumulating standing water in the ruts, which will prevent the roads from becoming solid. A technique loggers will use on skid trails in the woods is to lay brush and tree tops down in front of the machines creating what is called a slash mat. This technique helps keep the equipment up and reduces the risk of rutting.
Typically more logging occurs in the winter time than any other time of the year. This is due to more available people because they have other jobs the rest of the year (construction workers, landscapers etc.). Also in the winter you have the opportunity to harvest in all timber and soil types, which gives access to many more acres of timber.
The effects of Covid-19 have begun to disrupt our forest operations. With the shutdown of the Wisconsin Rapids mill and other hardwood pulp mills running idle, finding a place to go with hardwood pulp is becoming increasingly difficult.
What does this mean for you as a landowner? Today, if your standing hard timber is harvested, you may have to leave the pulp behind in the woods due to the fact we currently have mills operating that are only accepting bolts and logs. The unknown of what the future holds makes it difficult to know whether to harvest or hold out and wait for the market to come back. We understand this puts landowners in a precarious position.
From our perspective, if we do not get these local pulp mills up and running soon, it will have a devastating impact on not just the timber industry, but the whole great lakes state region. Hundreds of jobs have already been lost because of the Rapids and Duluth mills being shut down, however, other suppliers to those operations are also beginning to suffer with additional layoffs imminent.
Our team of foresters is staying up-to-date on this situation and will stay in touch with our landowners to keep you updated on this situations as well. Please feel free to reach out to our forestry team with any questions or concerns related to your own woodlots.
Winter appears to have arrived before anyone was expecting it. That said, logging crews will start looking at freezing roads down to get into their low winter ground jobs. Fortunately for us here in the middle of the state, we are starting out perfect with very cold temps and little to no snow on the ground. This will help to drive frost deeper.
The last few months have been productive in the blowdown areas and we have been bringing a lot of logs into the yard as a result of the summer storms. We are very thankful to the many logging crews both from Wisconsin and Upper Michigan for assisting us in getting many landowner properties cleaned up. Also, we are very thankful for all the work Henry Schienebeck did to get Michigan log trucks able to haul out of the storm damaged areas.
We are continuing to work on blowdown for as long as we can, until either the snow gets too deep or the stumps and tops freeze down too hard in the ground. The hardwood pulp and aspen markets remain strong and look as though they will remain that way throughout the winter. We are still accepting landowners who need clean up done on their property and have been out every week running property lines and will continue to do so until it gets too dangerous. If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our foresters. Thanks for all of your patience and good luck hunting!
July brought a round of severe storms to our area, the severity not seen in our communities for quite some time. According to the National Weather Service, the damage path from the storm was 60 miles long and 10 miles wide. The hardest hit areas saw 100+ mph winds. Over 300,000 acres were damaged with particularly hard hit areas here in Kretz Lumber Company’s back yard. Some of the landowners we are working with lost 90% of the timber on their property. The damage is unprecedented.
As I write this, most roads and structures have been cleared, however the concern now is getting woodlots cleaned of downed trees in a reasonable amount of time. While the damage is hard to look at, a silver lining is that the majority of hardwoods in this area were impacted by straight line winds. Because of this, root balls are generally still left attached to the base of the fallen tree and the threat of the logs staining quickly is reduced. Staining happens when logs sit and aren’t processed in a sawmill in a timely manner (ideally, within a few weeks). Prior to entering the sawmill, logs are susceptible to a staining fungi. September and October are notoriously fast staining months in our area given the changing temperatures. When staining occurs, the lumber grade is lowered. Hence, the urgency in our cleanup efforts.
As you can imagine, resources in our area have been stretched to the max. There just aren’t enough loggers and trucking to haul the cut trees to log yards as fast as we all would like. Additionally, this event will most definitely lead to a lumber surplus in our local mills. Our team is working overtime to assist and support landowners impacted by these storms. If you have storm damage related questions or if you’d like a forester to advise on the cleanup of your property, don’t hesitate to contact us.