What Is A Timber Cruise?

For new and existing timberland owners, a timber cruise is a rather inexpensive first step in determining the current volume of merchantable timber on your property and its market value.  A timber cruise is normally completed by a consulting forester prior to the timber being sold; however, it is also done in conjunction with a forest management plan as baseline data for short- and long-term forest planning.

Fees for the timber cruise vary by consulting forester.  The fee is either charged on a per acre basis for larger tracts (100 acres +) or a flat fee amount for smaller tracts.  It covers the forester’s travel, cruising (i.e., labor) and office costs for completing the timber cruise report.

The Society of American Forester’s Dictionary of Forestry defines a timber cruise as “a forest survey to locate and estimate the quantity of timber on a given area according to species, size, quality, possible products or other characteristics” (SAF 1998).  A consulting forester can utilize one of a number of sampling techniques to locate and estimate the timber volume on your timberland tract(s).  The three most common techniques include:

  • Point Sampling with a Prism – Less labor intensive and based on the basal area (BA) of individual “in-trees” at each sample plot.  Most common technique.
  • Fixed Area Sampling – More labor intensive and includes counting all merchantable trees within a fixed area around a plot (e.g., 1/10th acre).
  • 100% Tally – Most labor intensive technique and most accurate because every tree is tallied and measured.  Used on smaller tracts (or stands) where there is significant timber volume/value to justify the increased sampling accuracy.

The completed cruise reports vary based on the individual forester’s preference or their client’s needs.  Some are as short as one page with a breakdown of species volume and the value estimate.  Presented in booklet form, Grant Massie Land Company’s timber cruise reports include various stand/property maps (i.e., topographic, location, aerial, forest type map, etc.), cruise statistics, an indicated fair market value range, and conclusions/ recommendations.

If you are considering a timber sale in the future or are interested in a timber cruise, please contact Jeffrey Huff (804-750-1207) or Bill Grant (804-754-3476) to discuss how Grant Massie Land Company can help you with your forestry needs.

Literature Cited

Society of American Foresters (SAF), 1998. The Dictionary of Forestry. The Society of American Foresters, Washington D.C. 210 p.