Thursday, September 21, 2017

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Wilderness Realty, Inc.

Maine Land Sales Specialists

TIPPING

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.