Differences in total stem value when merchandizing with a tracked processor versus a knuckle-boom loader in Pinus taeda
Using tracked processors over knuckle–boom loaders to increase total value per tree when merchandizing timber on the landing has become a topic of interest in the southeastern region of the United States. This study compared merchantability values, product classes, and product weights of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) for both machines to determine if there was a significant difference between machines when processing the same tree. In order to process the same tree twice, the chains from the tracked processor had to be removed from the bottom saw bar. This allowed the processor to simulate the merchandising process without actually marking or cutting the tree for a more realistic comparison. Data were analyzed using paired t–tests and two–way ANOVA models. Results depicted that when diameter and total lengths are visually estimated by the knuckle–boom loader. A significant difference in value occurs, however, once diameter and total length are modified to match the tracked processors for more accurate measurements, no difference in value was seen. These results demonstrate that until mill specifications become more stringent, there is little incentive for loggers to purchase a tracked processor if their only motivation is to increase merchantability values.