The latest edition of New Zealand Tree Grower produced by the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, contains a nice article by blackwood grower and sawmiller Paul Millen (NZTG 38(1) p. 7-8).
Paul runs a business called Marlborough Timbers.
Here’s the story in summary:
- 8 plantation blackwood trees milled
- Tree age: 30 years
- Tree dbh: 30 – 60cm
- Pruned height: 4 – 6m
- Total log volume: 10 cubic metres
- Total sawn recovery: 4.0 cubic metres
- Total sawn recovery: 40%
- Three to four logs per tree were milled, at lengths between 2.4 metres and 3.6 metres, including unpruned logs from above the pruning lift that were targeted to produce decorative knotty flooring.
- Knotty boards were rough sawn 157 x 27mm and sold green at $NZ1800 per cubic metre. In future they hope to sell this grade of knotty blackwood for $NZ2,500 green or $NZ3,000 kiln dried.
- They hope to sell kiln dried clear (select) grade blackwood for $NZ4,000 per cubic metre, which equates with what Malcolm Mackenzie is selling select grade blackwood into the NZ market:
Here’s a link to the article (pdf file):
I got the extra information from Paul to help fill out the story.
Blackwood is a niche timber that I suggest is like the pinot noir variety of New Zealand exotic timbers. The timber has some incredible colour and diversity, and it is a relatively easy hardwood to saw and season. There is a lot of satisfaction in producing a really top notch product. I know there is some excellent mature well-managed farm forestry stands and these growers deserve to receive a high return given the demanding silviculture required to manage these early plantations.
Maybe the New Zealanders should market blackwood as Noirwood!!
As more of the New Zealand farm-grown blackwood resource matures we will be seeing more of these success stories.
Thanks to Paul Millen for the story and further information.