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What is low-value and/or low-grade hardwood?

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Forest Products Journal. 53(3): 54-59


The utilization of low-value and low-grade hardwood material is a recurrent concern in forest products research. This paper clarifies and expands on this topic and provides a framework to help researchers isolate specific researchable problems in this area and to discuss potential products that might be produced from this resource. Although low-value and low-grade issues often are interrelated, these terms represent two distinct concepts. Low-value is an economic concept, i.e., a product is low-value when the market determines the price ofthat product is low relative to similar products. Low-grade is a physical concept; a product grade is based upon an agreed on protocol (grading system) that classifies material into a quantitative group. At the beginning of the market chain, low-value and low-grade material consists of trees not considered growing stock and sawtimber trees of Grades 4 and 5. These trees have been utilized historically for industrial products such as pallets and pulpwood. More recently, they have been used increasingly in the manufacture of engineered wood products. Grade 3 trees and their subsequent logs are by far the most plentiful and expanding portion of the hardwood resource and yield proportionally large volumes of lower grade lumber. Since it is economically inefficient to process such logs at mills designed to gain maximum grade yield from high-grade logs, a process that directly transforms them into dimension parts might be an option. Although considerable research has been completed on utilization of low-grade hardwood lumber, such research needs to continue.


Luppold, William; Bumgardner, Matthew. 2003. What is low-value and/or low-grade hardwood?. Forest Products Journal. 53(3): 54-59

Last updated on: August 22, 2006