Monthly Archives: October 2013

Premium blackwood sawlog sells for $9,600!!

The results of the Island Specialty Timbers October auction have been posted. Lot 13 didn’t quite make the magic number of $10,000 as I had hoped but came very close at $9,600. On a cubic metre basis the log sold for $2,900, $200 per cubic metre more than the head log at the August tender.

That’s a total of $17,000 for the two logs totalling six (6) cubic metres from the one tree! An extraordinary price for one extraordinary blackwood tree.

Here’s a description of the Lot 13:

Lot 13

IST described the October tender price results as “sensible, fair prices” which is a very odd thing to say.

Anyway it was a fantastic result!

One reason this log achieved such a great price was the tear drop figured grain. Feature grain in any quality log such as fiddleback or tear drop will improve the market value significantly. While little research has been done into the origins and causes of feature grain in any species, it is generally believed that this trait is at least under partial genetic control. This means it can potentially be cloned.

But cloning of feature grain blackwood (like Lot 13) will only happen within the context of a profitable, commercially driven blackwood growers cooperative. There is no point cloning feature grain blackwood unless you can grow the stuff in profitable plantations. The sooner we get Tasmanian farmers growing commercial blackwood the sooner we can start thinking about cloning tear drop and fiddleback blackwood.

The two plain grain logs in the October tender (lots 11 and 12) went for good prices although the logic behind the prices seems contrary. The larger log (lot 11) sold for $300 per cubic metre while the smaller log (lot 12) sold for $600 per cubic metre!! Was there a typo or a data entry error? It makes no sense, unless there was some quality aspect in the larger log that was not properly reported. Either way the results were good, and indicates that plain grain blackwood logs are attracting good prices. At $300 per cubic metre a well managed blackwood plantation would be worth $90,000 per hectare after 30-35 years. And at $600 a hectare of plantation would be worth……..

Anyone interested?

Blackwood in New Zealand video now available on-line

From the latest AMIGO Newsletter:

This video, which was part-funded by AMIGO, was the brain-child of the late Ian Nicholas. It is one of Ian’s many legacies that NZ blackwood growers can be grateful for.

Ian features in the video, discussing a series of 25-year-old blackwood regime trials, where different pruning, thinning, and final crop stocking regimes have led to some clear conclusions about optimal silvicultural regimes to maximise timber volume and value.

A number of experienced blackwood growers from both the North and South Islands discuss their experiences with growing blackwoods on range of site types, and provide recommendations for successful establishment and maximising the timber crop value.

Finally, the potential for blackwood timber is highlighted by Ian Nicholas and others. Peter King of Kings IVth Generation Timber, Carterton, shows how his company produces high-value blackwood bench-tops, and Paul Millen discusses how he has developed a production thinning regime in his Marlborough forest to produce timber for blackwood flooring. We also see inside an award-winning Marlborough house which features a stunning blackwood floor.

The video is about 45 minutes long, and ‘high definition’. Anyone unable to view it on-line should contact me and I will arrange for a DVD to be sent to you.

A great video and well worth watching. Check it out!

Forestry Tasmania stakeholder registration now open

FT Help Us Improve

As part of the move towards applying for FSC Certification Forestry Tasmania are now seeking community feedback and stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder registration is now open. Visit the website:

Current FT policy and practice effectively prevents private investment in blackwood by treating the public special timbers and blackwood resource as a non-profit, publicly subsidised charity. No private blackwood investment will happen until the special timbers industry is reformed on a fully commercial basis. Without this change the special timbers industry is doomed, and all your favourite Tasmanian timbers will no longer be commercially available.

For more information read my blog here:

You can help bring about this important change by becoming a FT stakeholder and letting them know that reform is vital to the future of blackwood as a profitable commercial opportunity.

They have a online survey you can also do to provide FT with some quick feedback.

Help support the future of Tasmania’s special timbers industry and demand change.

Thanks for your support!

The sweet sound of Tasmanian guitars

Check out this great little story from ABC Northern Tasmania about Melbourne-based luthier Chris Wynne.

Chris runs luthier (guitar building) workshops in Stanley and has been a proud promoter of Tasmanian tonewoods for many years. He also runs very popular workshops in Italy. Check out his website:

Read the ABC story and listen to the interview.

PS. Here’s a similar story in The Advocate:


Will this blackwood sawlog sell for over $10,000?

Not content with breaking the blackwood sawlog price record at their August tender, Island Specialty Timbers have saved the best til last. It turns out that the record breaking August sawlog was just the head log from what must have been a truly magnificent blackwood tree. The butt log from this same tree is now up for tender at IST Geeveston – lot 13. Tenders close 22nd October 2013.

Lot 13

Here’s the description of this log:

Lot 13, Blackwood, figured.  A fresh, very large diameter log with little taper, excellent dark colour and tear drop figure.  This is the butt log from below log 3 sold in the August tender. One of the best logs offered in an IST tender!  Length 4.4 metres, butt diameter 103 cm, head diameter 93 cm, volume 3.31 cubic metres, weight about 3650 kg.

This butt log is of similar length to the August sawlog but has 20% more volume, so the potential sawn recovery will be very high. The August sawlog went for $2750 per cubic metre for a total value of $7,500. What will this massive sawlog sell for?

The October IST tender also includes two other blackwood sawlogs amongst the 22 lots, one of which equates in size and quality to what might be grown in a blackwood plantation (lot 11). It will be interesting to see what price this log achieves.

Blackwood is the only Tasmanian special species which has the potential to be grown commercially and profitably by Tasmanian farmers in either plantations (like NZ farmers) or through better management of existing on-farm blackwood. While sawlogs of this quality are not common, the prices being achieved should be gaining interest amongst the rural community. Clearly the market for premium appearance grade timber is very much alive and in good health. When will the Tasmanian rural community wake up to the opportunity?