Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Wilderness Realty, Inc.

Maine Land Sales Specialists


Christmas Trees

Another “cottage industry” in Maine that will provide a woodlot owner with income.  There are two ways to approach this.  The first is to plant seedlings, preferably balsam fir, in a field or cleared area.  Seedlings can be purchased from nurseries or government agencies.  The Penobscot County Soil and Water Conservation District is one such agency that offers an annual tree and shrub sale in the spring.  A 6’ X 6’ spacing is sufficient to provide enough room for the trees to spread.

Another source is wild trees.  Simply walk your property in early spring and carefully dig up 6-10” fir seedlings for transplanting.  Good places to look are along woods roads, trails and openings.  Transplant them soon after harvesting.

If you have an area with established fir regeneration 2+ feet in height, thin out the stand to the desired 6’ X 6’ spacing.  Favor healthy looking trees with good needle growth.

To get your trees in the traditional Christmas-tree shape, you need to prune every year.  Mid June is the best time when new growth is established but not yet “budded out”.  A hedge trimmer is a good tool for this purpose.  A manual one is fine for a small grove of trees, for a larger operation this task will be easier with a power (electric or gas) trimmer.  They key to trimming is to start shaping the tree in the traditional shape when the trees are still small.  Cut the leaders when the trees are about 3 feet tall to promote bushy growth.

I have about 140 trees that I have been planting in rotation for the past 16 years.  Some are from wild stock and others were purchased.  I can trim up the trees with a hand trimmer in about 12 hours; though it is taking longer now that I have more large trees.  I have been selling a few each year on a “cut your own basis”.  Of course each year we get to pick out the best one for our own use.

Fir trees will easily grow on most land.  Our listings at are excellent candidates for growing Christmas trees.  Check out our inventory!


The biggest activities conducted on my property, other than the construction of my home,  was two timber harvests; one in the winter of 1992 and the other in the winter of 1997.  A total of 485 cords were cut yielding approximately $16,800 in stumpage value.  This activity was by far the biggest income producer generated by my LAND INVESTMENT.

Approximately 19 acres was cut during 1992.  The area harvested occurred behind my home on the western 2/3rds of the west rectangle.  This section was previously harvested in the 1970s and was nearly a clearcut.  The harvest was basically a removal of the remaining overstory with Spruce, Fir, Hemlock, Hardwood and White Pine being targeted species.  Most of the wood was sold as pulp and studwood along with a load of pine logs.

In 1997 the cut area was comprised of 53 acres and included the entire wooded portion of the east rectangle and about 3 acres on the west rectangle to the north of my home.  This section was not harvested for many decades and consisted of mostly mature timber.  The harvest prescription was to cut softwood, popple and log quality oak, which was painted.  Tree species sold were Spruce, Fir, Larch, Popple, White Pine and Oak.  Again most of the wood was sold as studwood and pulpwood.  Approximately 23 MBF of oak and pine logs were delivered to the mills.  I kept another 40 cords of firewood, mostly oak tops and limbs along with a few Red Maple which were harvested incidentally.

My property still has plenty of merchantable timber.  The harvest crew left many trees that did not quite meet the initial prescription; and after 13 years have grown even bigger.  Consequently I can justify another harvest of Popple, Spruce, Fir and White Pine in the immediate future.  In addition, at the current rate that I am cutting firewood (6 cords annually), there is more hardwood growing on the property than I can use in my lifetime.

Most of the residual, merchantable timber is on the east rectangle.  The west rectangle is well stocked with mostly softwood regeneration and would probably be ready for a pulpwood thinning in the next 20 years, maybe sooner.

Other than an outright sale of the property, timber harvesting is probably the single most valuable income producer of a woodlot.  As you can see by my experience, income can be generated by successive, selective harvests.  My timberland investment has yielded me income over time; AND there is still plenty of remaining wood that can be harvested now AND there are trees growing for future harvests.  Need I say more.

You can be a timberland owner as well.  Just check out our listings at

If you like one of our properties, give us a call and make an appointment for a showing.


Not a reference to the traditional act of compensating restaurant servers, but a source of income for timberland owners.  In Maine, tipping is the harvesting of balsam fir brush or “tips” to make Christmas wreaths and other holiday decorations.

Many landowners in Maine have an over-abundance of young fir growing on their property.  There is a cottage industry of folks buying and selling fir tips.  This can be income for the landowner.

The season lasts a month or so and Thanksgiving Week is the peak of tipping season.  Tippers go out on woodlots and pick the first 16-18 inches of fir branch tips as high as they can reach.  The tips are threaded on a stick which can be easily hauled about the fir stand.  When the stick gets too heavy, it is time to start a new stick.  Fir tips are sold by weight.

There are large, commercial wreath makers in Downeast Maine as well as smaller operations scattered around the State.  There are hundreds of one person basement operations as well.  Landowners get paid a fee by tippers or actually go out and tip themselves and sell the brush.

Tipping is such a big business that there are State laws in place protecting the resource and those landowners who do not wish to have their fir tips harvested.  Tippers must have written landowner permission on their possession while plying their trade.  Fines are steep.

A few passing notes.  Tipping does not harm the fir trees as long as the trees are tipped in moderation.  Most fir stands can withstand annual tippings.  The most profound response of the fir tree to tipping is to produce more tips the next year.  Eventually the trees grow too tall and the lower branches die back making bigger fir trees un-tippable.

 Fir tipping is but another example of income potential for Maine timberland owners.  The list keeps on a growing.