Price premium requirements for growing higher quality pine sawtimber in even-aged systems in the southeastern United States
Intensive pine silviculture has become the dominant management paradigm in the southeastern United States. Although productivity has been substantially increased by the combination of cultural, silvicultural, and genetic advancements, wood quality is sometimes sacrificed in intensive silviculture. Extending the optimal rotation allows trees to grow more timber, which may result in the production of better quality sawtimber; however, landowners may require incentives to do so. We simulated loblolly, slash, shortleaf, and longleaf pine for growth and yield using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) to determine sawtimber price premiums landowners would require to offset the costs associated with delaying the final harvest by 10 to 30 years in even-aged systems. Required incentives increased with the length of harvesting delay beyond the financially optimal rotation age. On medium productivity sites, landowners would be willing to delay the final harvest by 10 years for sawtimber price premiums of $5.06/ton (20.47%) for loblolly, $5.34/ton (21.6%) for slash, $4.56/ton (18.45%) for longleaf, and $6.71/ton (27.14%) shortleaf pine, respectively. Harvest delays of 10 to 20 years were financially justifiable, whereas extensions exceeding 30 years were prohibitively costly for all species. Delaying the optimal harvest could benefit landowners by generating a premium price for their sawtimber while providing important ecosystem services.