There are 2 major harvest types: Clearcut (total harvest) and Partial Cut (select cut or thinning).
Clearcut: Clearcutting mimics the way forests in Virginia “reset” naturally. This allows you to control the timing and composition of the future stand. It also gives you the platform to change land use like converting to pasture, farmland, or housing, etc. Clearcutting utilizes all the merchantable material on site. In nearly all cases, clearcutting provides the maximum revenue to the landowner. Unlike many other loggers, we can chip smaller material that may be left behind. This minimizes your expense for reforestation or clearing and leaves a cleaner looking job.
Partial Cut: There are several types and reasons for Partial Cuts. We subdivide them into these groups: Thinning, Timber Stand Improvement, Select Cut, Shelterwood, and Seed Tree.
Thinning: This is primarily used in planted pine and provides cash prior to clearcutting. Thinning is a tool to improve the quality of the future stand by leaving superior trees and giving them the space and resources to grow by removing inferior trees that compete for light, water, and nutrients. Thinning can be an excellent way to improve wildlife habitat and prolong the life of the stand. Many people like the appearance of thinned pine. This is usually done between age 15 and 20 depending on the growth rate. It can be done every 8 to 10 years up to about age 50.
Timber Stand Improvement: We normally associate this with hardwood stands. This has similar objectives and benefits as pine thinning but can be less intensive. People also like the way this harvest looks. The revenue will be less than on a select cut, and it is normally done in non-mature stands.
Select Cut: A Select Cut is a partial harvest (mature hardwood) that uses a specified diameter to be removed. Most Select Cuts use diameters of 12", 14", or sometimes 16". The goal here is to remove trees that will be large enough to be sold as sawtimber. These are normally the most valuable trees in the forest. This gives you a good return on your investment while still leaving the land in timber. Most of the time, it can be done every 20 or 30 years once the timber is large enough.
Shelterwood: This is done in mature hardwood forests and is a regeneration harvest that targets the species composition of the future stand. A Shelterwood is a 2-stage harvest. The 1st stage removes non-desirable species and leaves a good distribution of more favorable types. There must be enough "shelter" left to provide the right amount of shade and sun to get the most favorable trees growing from seed. Once the density of favorable trees is present (about 10 years), the "shelter" trees are removed allowing the new trees to grow.
Seed Tree: A Seed Tree Cut is an alternative to clearcutting for pine. Mature trees are left evenly distributed across the stand to provide seed from cones after everything else is cut. The open area and scarified soil from the harvest provides a good seedbed for young pine seedlings. After 2 to 5 years the seed trees are then removed. However, there are often too many seedlings, and stunted stands may result with this method. It can be a good way to get near maximum value from the timber and still have it look nice.