This rising price of walnut timber is being driven by log export, mainly to China. Although heat can damage walnut logs, a local log exporter continued to ship them straight through this past summer. Will log and lumber export continue in the future? He expects log export volumes to remain steady at least through 2018.

Since the walnut price is so high, it is tempting to cut the trees when they are small. Average sizes and prices of standing trees are:

Diameter, 16; cost per board foot, $1.50; board feet per tree, 120; Cost per tree, $180

Diameter, 20; cost per board foot, $2.50; board feet per tree, 220; Cost per tree, $550

Diameter, 24; cost per board foot, $3.50; board feet per tree, 360; Cost per tree, $1,260

Diameter, 28; cost per board foot, $5.00; board feet per tree, 520; Cost per tree, $2,600

For many walnut trees, the diameter growth from 16 to 20 inches should take 10 to 15 years. It is easy to see that for walnut trees, bigger is often better.

Should you cut the walnut trees now before a disease might kill them? No. Locally, our walnut trees are healthy. You can verify this by checking with the ODNR Division of Forestry or Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Will walnut prices continue to rise in the future? Walnut trees thrive on fertile, moist and well-drained best soils. Most of these soils are in row crops. Whenever walnut comes into style, there will a shortage of timber and rising prices, especially now that we ship them around the world.

If you are unsure about selling your walnut trees, consult the ODNR forester. He is an impartial expert.

If you decide to see your own trees, my advice is the same as it was when I arrived in Ashland County in the late 1980s. To get the best timber sale, you should get bids on marked trees, sign a contract that protects you and supervise the cutting.

Martin Michel is a local consulting forester.