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1997 Timber Yields Top Previous Years
By Amy Woolfolk
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Increased production and a new all-time record production value have given the Mississippi forestry industry a reason to celebrate.
As values and production increase, the economic importance of the forestry industry in the state continues to grow.
"A harvest valued at more than $1.3 billion topped the all-time record set in 1996 of $1.2 billion," said Dr. Bob Daniels, forestry specialist for Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Mississippi's timber harvest value increased more than 10 percent in 1997. That is the largest one-year increase since 1993."
The 1997 harvest put state timber values over $1 billion for the fifth straight year and helped timber remain Mississippi's second most valuable agricultural commodity.
"Timber continues to follow poultry as the state's second most valuable commodity but remains ahead of cotton," Daniels said. "The poultry and egg industry was valued at $1.43 billion in 1997 and cotton was valued at $650 million."
The major timber products harvested in Mississippi include pine and hardwood sawlogs, pine and hardwood pulpwood, and pine poles. Poles are used for transmission and utility poles and in heavy construction. Sawlogs are used mostly to make lumber and plywood, and pulpwood is chipped for making paper. Daniels said pole production in 1997 was the highest it has been in 15 years, as prices and volume harvested both increased. The top pole producing counties include Lamar, Forrest and Greene.
The specialist said records also showed an increase in the volume and value of sawlogs in 1997. He attributed the increases to more housing construction and the need for lumber and plywood. Warren, Neshoba, Kemper and Claiborne counties led the state in sawlog production.
While pine poles and sawlogs experienced successful years, pulpwood volume and value dropped significantly.
"Pine pulpwood harvest volume and value declined almost 14 percent," Daniels said. "Hardwood pulpwood volume declined 6 percent and value dropped more than 10 percent from 1996."
Daniels said pulpwood harvests have declined for several years. 1997 hardwood pulpwood production was near the level of 1993, and pine pulpwood levels were down near the 1994 harvest. Leading pulpwood counties included Clarke, Kemper, Wayne and Panola counties.
As forestry continues to be a top industry for the state, Daniels urged landowners to learn about forest management and to make every acre productive.
"Forest landowners are encouraged to plant idle acres and manage for increased production," he said. "When it comes time to selling timber, landowners should get professional help."