Black walnut trees are valued as lumber and veneer and can be sold for a good price if the tree is large and in good condition. Such trees line the countryside in Kentucky, and homeowners with large black walnut trees on their property, or whose walnut tree has blown over in a storm, might consider selling the tree for some extra cash. In general, there needs to be at least 10 feet of trunk from the ground to the first major fork or branch for the tree to be marketable.
Selling Urban Trees
Check the height of your tree. Most lumber mills will not buy a walnut tree grown in an urban environment unless it is at least 18 inches in diameter. Measure the diameter of your tree at a height of 4 1/2 feet above the ground.
Check your tree for defects. Lumber buyers are more likely to buy walnut trees that are free from disease damage, cracks, scars, bumps and crookedness. The more defects a tree has, the less valuable it will be.
Consider the provenance of your tree. The biggest obstacle to selling a walnut tree that has been grown in an urban area is the risk that there will be metal embedded in the tree. Metal in a tree can destroy saws and other cutting equipment and pose a risk to the lumberjack. Metal can include nails, staples or spikes. If you have grown the tree from a sapling and can assure the potential buyer there is no metal in the tree, you may have an easier time selling it.
Contact a local Kentucky sawmill or timber mill and ask whether it will purchase your tree. Cruse Hardwoods and Tri-State Timber (see Resources) both buy Kentucky urban black walnut trees that are in good condition.
Contact Kentucky wood carver associations and clubs, such as River Valley Wood Carvers Club or Fall Cities Woodcarvers Guild. Place an advertisement for the sale of your tree in the newsletter or on the website of these organizations.
Selling Private Forest Trees
Consider your goals in selling timber on your land. For instance, you may be interested in clearing the land for development, preserving wildlife or managing growth. Your goal will affect which trees you will want to cut.
Sell walnut trees on your private forest land by first contacting the Kentucky Division of Forestry (see Resources). The agency can put you in touch with a forester who can value your timber and advise you on which trees are best for harvesting.
Hire a consulting forester. A consulting forester will be able to work more closely with you to advise you on the best way to sell your trees to maximize profit and sustainability. Find a consulting forester through the Kentucky Forest Industries Association or the Kentucky Division of Forestry. The forester will mark the trees that will be cut.
Prepare bid guidelines. This will set out the details of the timber sale. Your forester can help you prepare this, and circulate it among Kentucky commercial loggers or harvesters.
Choose a bid from a logger or harvester. Hire the logger by signing a timber sale contract. Make sure the company you hire will have a master logger on site. Kentucky law requires a master logger to be on the site to oversee the logging operations.