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
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