Farmers are being warned not to undervalue their timber crop, with potential earnings at clearfell of up to €25,000/ha for Sitka spruce plantations.

IFA Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins said that although the majority of farmers are not at clearfell stage, private plantations are maturing earlier due to being established on more productive land with some farmers’ clearfelling as early as year 30.

“I know that some farmers are choosing to sell their plantations when the premiums stop, and I want them to be aware of the potential earnings that can be achieved from timber sales at the time of clearfell”, said Collins.

“Semi-mature plantation currently have a market value of €12,000/ha, this is the same price that newly afforested sites are realising.”

He said that farmers could be earning up to €25,000/ha, double the market value from semi-mature plantations, in some instances within 10 years from timber sales while retaining the land.

“It is important farmers understand the potential value of their timber crop”, said Collins.

“On a productive site, yield class 24 with a high stocking rate of Sitka spruce that is well managed, the timber crop is increasing in value by approx. €1,000 per hectare each year.”

He encouraged farmers to read the IFA Timber Sales Guide and to talk to other farmers so they are well informed about the market and competency of the contractor before entering into a contract.

He said this is critical when it comes to thinnings, as the primary aim is to improve the quality of the plantation to maximise sawlog, so highest price may not always be the best option.