Find out about the South’s booming timber industry.

The timber industry is thriving in the South, with the region laying claim to 40 percent of the United States’ commercial timberland.

Top Timber Producers in the South

Due to its extensive timber supply, the South is often referred to as the “wood basket” of the country.

Georgia, for example, has 24.7 million acres of forestland, and 22 million acres of private timberland – home to approximately 250 tree species – is potentially available for timber production, which makes the state one of the most important forestry sectors in the nation. According to the Georgia Forestry Association, the state is the country’s No. 1 exporter of pulp, paper, paperboard mill products, wood fuel, and wood pellets, and Georgia’s forestry industry is responsible for creating 133,256 jobs.

South Carolina is another major player in the timber industry, with two-thirds of the state’s land covered by forests, as well as North Carolina, where approximately 145,000 people are employed in the state’s forest products sector and a ProLogger Program is in place to ensure logging crews stay safe on the job.

Texas is also a major employer in the forestry and timber industry, with the sector directly employing 59,400 people and indirectly employing nearly 130,600 additional people. Nearby, Arkansas has 19 million acres of productive timberland, making it the second-leading lumber-producing state in the South and fourth in the nation. The state’s timber and paper products industry employs almost 70,000 people through direct and indirect employment.

Timber Goes from Ground to Marketplace

It’s no surprise the timber industry is such a strong job generator and employer, as there are several steps involved as timber makes its journey from the forest to the mill, then to the marketplace.

The process begins when loggers harvest trees, often using a technique called felling that requires a chainsaw. To fell a tree, a logger makes four cuts – a top, bottom, back, and felling cut. Once a tree is on the ground, loggers remove its limbs and cut it into logs through a process known as bucking, which involves making cross-sectional cuts from the butt of the tree to the top.

Next come skidding, or moving logs from the forest to the landing area. Loggers skid timber by winching several logs to a tractor and dragging them through the forest along designated trails.

At the landing area, loggers grade and sort logs by species, then load the logs onto trucks that deliver the timber to a variety of destinations. Pulp mills receive lower-grade logs, while veneer producers receive higher-grade logs. The rest of the timber either goes directly to sawmills or to concentration yards. Concentration yards then sell and market logs to sawmills based on the mill’s needs.

Once at a mill, one log can become many different boards, planks, or beams. First, the primary saw of a mill, the head rig, breaks down the log into rough-cut pieces. Next, each piece of lumber passes through an edger, which removes irregular edges and defects. Then the lumber goes through a trimmer that squares off the ends at standard lumber lengths. Finally, the lumber is sorted, stacked, and dried in kilns.

How Forestry and Livestock Work Together

In addition to jobs createdtrongd end products, timberland can also be a benefit to other agriculture industries. Learn more about the reciprocal benefits for forests, livestock, and ranchers when you integrate forest and livestock management.

If you are looking for a loan for your timber operation, let AgAmerica build a customized loan package to meet your needs.