By re-thinking the market, a clever logger in Northern California came up with a plan to salvage revenue from a timber sale gone bad. His new efforts are dedicated to forest thinning and answering the question of what to do with “waste wood” and biomass.
Firewood producers know there are several different types of firewood customers:
Campers wanting firewood bundles
Suburban homeowners who buy ⅓ cords and want it stacked on delivery
Rural homeowners who prefer full cords and are happy to have them dumped on-site
Rural homeowners who buy truckloads of 100” logs to cut and split themselves
Randy Pew of Greenville, California is targeting a fifth potential market: customers who want half-cords of small-diameter logs and large branches they can cut themselves — and are small enough to require no splitting.
Selling small-diameter logs in half-cord loads that can be delivered by pickup truck may very well appeal to a large number of customers who wouldn’t mind a light and easy saw job but don’t have the time or equipment to handle large logs or rounds. It’s “right-sizing” to meet a customer’s needs. The ability to deliver in a light truck is also a benefit.
The NFA is on-board with this idea, but we must emphasize a number of cautions:
Unsplit rounds take longer to season than splits. These logs should be cut immediately upon delivery and stacked with good air flow.
Unsplit rounds generally do not burn as well as splits when sized over 4″.
Unsplit rounds are harder to light. This may encourage “stoking” a long-burning fire, rather than burning in cycles.
On the positive side, we’d like to emphasize that the innovations to come in firewood production will be largely based in sourcing, handling and logistics. Pew’s project hit all of these areas.
Sourced from what otherwise would be burned in a slash pile
Smaller diameter logs are easy for the customer to handle and don’t require splitting
Delivery can be accomplished with light trucks, opening options and flexibility.
What Mr. Pew has done is create a “new product” that has not been available to consumers before, making use of wood that would otherwise be burned as waste in an open fire — the dirtiest way to burn wood there is.
We’ll be keeping an eye on this project and report to you what we learn.
For more information on on Randy Pew’s plan, see this recent article from the Plumas County News in Northern California.