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How to Thin Out Pine Trees

pine trees image by Piter Pkruger from

Growing pine trees to maturity takes time, generally 30 to 40 years. Once the pine trees have reached this age the timber is considered viable for cutting and producing saw timber. In many cases, a single pine tree can have a high value when it comes to producing lumber from the tree. In order to receive the maximum amount of timber from a stand of pine trees. the trees must be thinned. Thinning the pine stand is a process of removing trees that are not straight, are diseased or are too close to larger pine trees.

Inspect the stand of pines on your land. Use the can of tree marking spray paint and make a ring around the tree that needs to be thinned. Select trees for thinning that are not straight. Some pine trees may have a curve to the main trunk, and these trees will not produce lumber.

Identify trees that have any abnormality to the trunk. Some trees may have been infected by insects at a young age. The trunk may have irregularities to the timber, such as large burrs or galls in the bark. These trees must be thinned as any disease contained in the tree may spread to healthier pine trees.

Mark any trees that are too close to larger mature trees. Pine trees consume large amounts of water. Trees of smaller size may stunt the growth of larger, more valuable pines. Remove smaller trees that are in competing distance with other pine trees. Consult your local extension service for proper spacing between pine trees. Various species of pine trees will require different distances.

Contact your local extension service agent for loggers in your area that specialize in pine tree thinning. The thinned pines can be sold for pulpwood to the local paper market. In most cases, the pine tree stand owner will be paid to have the pine trees thinned. Typically the logger will come into the pine stand, remove the trees that are identified and haul the trees to market. Be sure to arrange methods or recording which trees are thinned out and hauled away. You will want to be paid what you are owed for your timber.

Remove the identified pine trees yourself with a chain saw. If there are only a few trees to be thinned, this may be an economical task. Many loggers will not thin a few pines trees without some form of compensation.


Consult your local agricultural extension service for your climate. Various climates will produce different species of pine trees that may require special thinning practices.

The first thinning in a pine stand is typically performed between the ages of 12 years to 15 years of age for the pine trees.


Removing standing trees with a chain saw can be extremely hazardous. If you are not proficient with a chain saw and tree sawing do not attempt.

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