Markets for relatively small amounts of timber from on-farm agroforestry systems will depend on the tree species and the quality of the timber. Local sawmills will often be pleased to buy good quality timber which can be put to a variety of uses and will therefore vary in value.
The highest value timbers are those that can be used for veneers followed by timber for furniture and joinery. Timber for turnery (shafts, handles etc.) is in the middle. Building and flooring quality timber has a lower value with pallet quality lower than that. The lowest value is for posts, gates, fences and etc. Hopefully you will not be growing timber which can only be used for firewood.
Some of the qualities and uses of timber from UK-grown species are shown here.
Information about sawmills will give you an idea of how timber is used and who will want it. Use the links below to find out about sawmills in your area and the type of timber they specialise in.
|Timber uses - Adapted from Forestry Commission Bulletin 91 The Timbers of Farm Woodland Trees
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|Species||Qualities||General uses||Farm uses|
|Alder||Dries rapidly & well. Saws easily. Usually small sizes||Brush backs, toys, turnery.||Must be preserved outdoors|
|Ash||Heavy. Easy to handle. Dries easily. Saws & machines well. Stronger than oak but not durable if decay possible.||Shafts for axes, spades, etc. Sports goods (cricket stumps, etc.). Furniture from good quality. Veneer from best.||General uses but not in ground unless treated.|
|Beech||Heavy. Dries quickly. One of strongest UK timbers. Machines well. Not durable if decay possible.||Foremost furniture wood. Poorer quality used in upholstery frames. Handles, kitchen ware, flooring.||Firewood.|
|Oak||Dries slowly - care needed. Sawing & ease of working depend on density.||Top quality for veneer. Next quality in furniture, joinery, panelling, flooring etc. Large sizes used in construction.||Posts, fences etc.|
|Poplar||Lightest broadleaved wood. Dries rapidly & well. Saws easily. Not durable if decay possible.||General use indoors if strength not important. Flooring, pallets, containers. Peeled for vegetable crates.||Must be preserved outdoors|
|Sycamore||Dries rapidly, needs care to retain white colour. Works well to excellent finish. Not durable if decay possible.||Cabinet work & furniture. Kitchen items (chopping boards etc.). Wavy grain logs for veneer get high prices||Must be preserved outdoors|
|Wild cherry||Dried carefully. Works well with excellent finish. Attractive wood.||Cabinet work & furniture. Panelling & decorative joinery.||Not recommended outdoors.|
|Hybrid larch||Slower drying than pine. Harder to saw, splits on nailing. Lasts outdoors.||Building, gates, posts, fencing. Selected larch used in boat building.||Gates, posts, fencing. Preserve for long life.|
|Scots pine||Dry quickly. Saw & work well. Not durable if decay possible.||Building, packaging, pallets. Telegraph poles. Fencing posts & stakes.||Fencing posts & stakes.|
Tree species on your farm
You cannot expect to grow every species on your farm. Tree species must be carefully selected on the basis of the climate and soil quality of the individual site. Advice can be sought from professional forestry advisors, for example through the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
The Forestry Commission's Ecological Site Classification is a PC-based decision support system for British Forests and can be used to check the suitability of a given site to a range of tree species - it is not a substitute for professional advice.
Some examples of output from the Ecological Site Classification are available here. Use the Back button on your browser to get back here or return via the "Should I try it on my farm?" link on the left.
Given the correct selection of tree species for the site, timber quality will be very dependent on good management. Formative pruning, to keep a single main stem on each tree will create greater lengths of straight and therefore valuable logs. Pruning of the side-branches of the trees will create knot-free logs with much higher value. Training in silviculture may be a worthwhile investment.
More information on tree management, including pruning, is available through the "How easy is it to manage?" link on the left.