Wisconsin logging capacity utilization study published

As part of the Wisconsin Forest Practices Study, a team of researchers from Virginia Tech and University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point conducted a study of logging capacity utilization in Wisconsin. The study, led by Dr. Joseph L. Conrad IV (now with University of Georgia), has been published in the International Journal of Forest Engineering.

Logging capacity is defined as the amount of raw material that loggers are capable of harvesting in a time period. Logging capacity utilization is the percentage of capacity that is actually used.

Thirty logging operations participated in the study from September 2014 to September 2015 and provided 951 weekly production reports accounting for over 9700 loads of timber delivered. Conrad estimates the logging capacity in Wisconsin to be 10.8 million m3 per year, and reported an average logging capacity utilization during the study of 72% (excluding times during spring break-up when many logging crews shut down). This level of logging capacity utilization suggests that there is adequate logging capacity in Wisconsin to support current demand from the forest products industry. 

However, the study found that logging production is highly seasonal, and logging capacity utilization during the most productive winter months reached 80%, which is near the theoretical maximum. This finding suggests that there is very little surge capacity during winter to respond to low inventories or higher-than-anticipated demand.

Similar to other components of the Wisconsin Forest Practices Study, this research addressed the impact of regulations on logging production. While the average direct impact of regulations on production was minimal, responses indicated that production losses and indirect losses from regulations can be significant in some cases.

For example, production losses during spring break-up could be attributed to regulations that reduce weight limits on public roads. Harvesting restrictions due to oak wilt guidelines affect supply of stumpage during certain months. This may encourage some loggers to harvest small tracts or tracts that are prone to weather-related shutdowns, either of which would reduce production.  

Reference 

Conrad, J.L., M.M. Vokoun, S.P. Prisley and M.C. Bolding. 2017. Barriers to logging production and efficiency in Wisconsin. International Journal of Forest Engineering 28(1):57-65. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14942119.2017.1246890