A Harvest Result to Confound the Experts

Here’s another great little story from the latest New Zealand Tree Grower (Vol 38/1 p. 19) journal that will be of interest to farmers.


Harvest result to confound the experts NZTG 38-1

The story follows from my other recent blog:


The story isn’t about blackwood, but it illustrates what commitment, good management and planning can achieve on a farm even with a commodity wood like Radiata pine.

Every year for the past 27 years the Wilson family have planted and managed 1 hectare of pine plantation on their farm near Otorohanga, North Island NZ. The farm is obviously close to markets and on easy ground so harvest and transport costs are minimised.

The recent first harvest of 1 hectare of well managed pine plantation netted the Wilson family $NZ57,700.

All up they now have 27 hectares of well managed pine plantation on their farm, and good annual income in perpetuity (markets permitting). Now if they want they could replant another hectare each year so that in 27 years time they are harvesting 2 hectares per year.

This is an excellent example of how to incorporate wood production into your farming business.

Yes it takes time for trees to grow, but that time will pass regardless of whether the trees are planted or not. And as the Wilsons now discover their commitment and hard work will pay a handsome annual dividend.

Your farm may not allow 1.0 hectare to be planted every year for 30+ years. Or it might have difficult terrain or greater distance to markets.

You could make a planting every 2 years, or every 5 years. Most farms have areas that are not being used as part of the main productive activity, whether its grazing, cropping or dairy, due to size, location, slope or drainage. These areas could be used for growing valuable wood products.

Eventually, as the Wilsons discovered, you end up with a regular handsome dividend from your work and commitment.

4 responses to “A Harvest Result to Confound the Experts

  1. So there is a large premium for pruned radiata logs in NZ. Why isn’t this the case in Australia? Perhaps someone from NZ could comment on this discrepancy.

    • Hi David,
      I suspect someone in Australia will be better placed to answer your question.

      But the pruning definitely paid off for the Wilsons.

      The pruned logs made up 55% of the volume, 67% of the gross income, and 77% of the nett income!!!

      Given the economies of scale will they still be able to harvest 1 ha of pine in another 27 years time? Even if it is well managed, easy harvesting and close to markets…



      • Hi Gordon,

        Here’s why I think some NZ commentary on this topic would be useful.

        The market in NZ can clearly support a premium for pruned logs. So a useful first step is how this works. What sections of the NZ market can make a profit after paying more for pruned logs? Are some being exported at a good price thus keeping up the price of logs of this grade milled within NZ? Used in mills with specific kit optimised for these logs? Better recovery at mills generally from these logs means more sellable product per m3? Better quality product milled from these logs can be sold at a higher price?

        Once a market and profitability analysis along these lines is available, it would be useful to do a compare and contrast with the market in Australia to see what levers might be available to develop a premium market for pruned logs.

        IMO this would be a valuable – and welcome – focus in the continual stream of agroforestry studies in Australia. Most of these studies concentrate on currently low-return commodity species. How farmers can make money from growing commodity species would be useful information



      • “How farmers can make money from growing commodity species would be useful information.”

        Totally agree!

        Distance to markets, easy harvesting, good management.

        And most of all a forest industry that understands about strong commercial focus and private growers.

        No politics, subsidies and other nonsense.


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