Wooden posts – a review
By Clemens Altaner, New Zealand School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, March 2020.
Download SWP-T095 (pdf)
Roundwood (posts and poles) is an established wood product, making use of smaller diameter logs. Little literature on post production, the market size and value is available. While the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative (NZDFI) envisages to establish a naturally durable eucalyptus resource with agricultural posts as a key product, the posts might also be an attractive opportunity for commercial thinnings of plantation species such as Douglas fir or radiata pine. This report focuses on wooden posts not poles, acknowledging that a continuum between the two, with posts being smaller and typically not used for structural application for which standards apply.
Various machinery for post and pole production is available, ranging from small to large scale production capacity. Quality (e.g. shape) of the posts and production capacity differs between production technologies.
The New Zealand post market is dominated by CCA treated radiata pine with whole sale prices of $NZ 300 to 400 per m3, comparable to sawn timber. No significant domestic market for naturally durable posts was identified. Overseas, in Europe, Australia and the US, naturally durable posts are traded at a wholesale price of approximately $NZ 700 per m3; a likely consequence of restrictions in the use of CCA, but also traditional naturally durable products. Option for the production of value added products from posts have also been listed.
In the NZDFI context, the plantation estate under different regimes to sustainably supply logs for a small and large capacity heartwood post production mill has been estimated. Depending on plantation regime, the surveyed wholesale price of heartwood posts were 2 to 5 times higher than the available estimated stumpage costs of the durable eucalypts. The price difference will be need to cover harvesting, processing costs as well as manufacturer profit.
Finally some gaps in the knowledge, warranting more research, are listed.
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