Lumber recovery and value of dead and sound black spruce trees grown in the North Shore region of Québec



To increase the wood supply to its industry, the government of Québec has allocated dead and sound wood (recently dead merchantable stems, DSW) to the wood supply chain in addition to the annual allowable cut of living trees. However, DSW is often criticized by sawmillers for its perceived poor quality and lower value.


The objective of this study was to compare the lumber visual grade yield and value from live and recently dead merchantable trees in three different states of wood decomposition.


In total, 162 black spruce trees [Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP] were felled from three different sites comprising three different states of wood decomposition and three diameter classes. The state of decomposition of each standing tree was categorized following Hunter’s classification (decay stages 1 & 2, 3 and 4) and the DSW classification developed by the Government of Québec.


Large trees (> 20 cm) of the Hunter 4 class have a lower value as a result of inferior quality.


Considering the current economic difficulties facing the forest industry and the requirements of ecosystem-based management, we recommend leaving in the forest trees that have reached such a state of deterioration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Abramoff MD, Magelhaes PJ, Ram SJ (2004) Image Processing with Image. J Biophotonics International 11:36–42

    Google Scholar 

  2. Avery TE, Burkhart HE (2001) Forest measurements, 5th edn. McGraw-Hill, New York, 456 pp

    Google Scholar 

  3. Basham JT (1991) Stem decay in living trees in Ontario’s forests: a user’s compendium and guide. Forestry Canada, Ontario region, Sault Ste-Marie, 69 pp incl.appendices

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bouchard M, Pothier D, Gauthier S (2008) Fire return intervals and tree species succession in the North Shore region of eastern Quebec. Can J Forest Res 38:1621–1633

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Boucher D, De Grandpré L, Gauthier S (2003) Développement d'un outil de classification de la structure des peuplements et comparaison de deux territoires de la pessière à mousses du Québec. For Chron 79:318–328

    Google Scholar 

  6. Byrne T, Stonestreet C, Peter B (2005) Current knowledge of characteristics and utilization of post-mountain pine beetle wood in solid wood products. Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative Working Paper 2005–2008, 18pp

  7. Bureau du Forestier en Chef (2006) Résultats des calculs de la possibilité forestière. Synthèse provinciale. Présentation. Possibilité forestière 2008–2013. Résultats provinciaux, 77 pp

  8. Côté G, Bouchard M, Pothier D, Gauthier S (2010) Linking stand attributes to cartographic information for ecosystem management purposes in the boreal forest of eastern Quebec. For Chron 86:511–519

    Google Scholar 

  9. De Grandpré L, Archambault L, Morissette J (2000) Early understory successional changes following clearcutting in the balsam fir–yellow birch forest. Ecoscience 7:92–100

    Google Scholar 

  10. R Development Core Team, 2011. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. In: Computing R. F. f. S. (Ed.), Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL

  11. Fahey TD (1977) Market values and problems associated with utilization of dead timber. Forest Product Journal 27:74–79

    Google Scholar 

  12. Franklin JF, Shugart HH, Harmon ME (1987) Tree death as an ecological process. Bioscience 37:550–556

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Graham SA, Knight FB (1965) Principles of forest entomology. McGraw-Hill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hadfield J, Magelssen R (2006) Wood changes in fire-killed tree species in eastern Washington. USDA Forest Service, Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, Wenatchee WA, 49 pp

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hunter ML Jr (1990) Wildlife, forests, and forestry: principles of managing forests for biological diversity. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs NJ, 370 pp

    Google Scholar 

  16. Lavallée A (1965) Modes d'entrées des caries du tronc de l'épinette noire. Phytoprotection 46:163–168

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lewis KJ, Hartley ID (2006) Rate of deterioration, degrade, and fall of trees killed by mountain pine beetle. JEM 7:11–19

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lowe J, Pothier D, Savard J-PL, Rompré G, Bouchard M (2011) Snag characteristics and cavity nesting birds in the unmanaged post-fire northeastern Canadian boreal forest. Silva Fenn 45:55–67

    Google Scholar 

  19. Lowell EC, Parry DL (2007) Value loss in ponderosa pine logs from beetle activity following fire in southern Oregon. For Prod J 57:68–72

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lowell EC, Willits SA, Krahmer RL (1992) Deterioration of fire-killed timber in the western United States. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland Oregon, 27 pp

    Google Scholar 

  21. Lowell EC, Rapp VA, Haynes RW, Cray C (2010) Effects of fire, insect, and pathogen damage on wood quality of dead and dying western conifers. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland Oregon, 77 pp

    Google Scholar 

  22. MacLean DA (2007) Does the Canadian forest sector have a viable future? Is current forest management acceptable to the general public? Would you advise your kids to take forestry? For Chron 83:54–60

    Google Scholar 

  23. Mancini AJ (1978) Manufacturing and marketing older dead lodgepole pine. In:The dead softwood lumber resource: proceedings of symposium held May 22-24, 1978 inSpokane, WA, USA. Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA, USA, pp 193–196

    Google Scholar 

  24. McCarthy J (2001) Gap dynamics of forest trees: A review with particular attention to boreal forests. Environ Rev 9:1–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. MRNFQ (2005). Estimation des volumes de bois affectés par les opérations de récolte—Instructions. Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Québec, p 28

    Google Scholar 

  26. Nader J (2007) Impacts des bois secs et sains sur les coûts de récolte. Advantage 8(4):8

    Google Scholar 

  27. NLGA (2008) Standard grading rules for Canadian lumber. National Lumber Grades Authority, Vancouver, BC

    Google Scholar 

  28. Panshin AJ, Zeeuw C de (1980) Textbook of wood technology, 4th ed. McGraw-Hill, New York, 722 pp

    Google Scholar 

  29. Pischedda D (2004) Guide technique sur la récolte et la conservation des chablis. CTBA/Stodafor, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  30. Québec Forest Industry Council (2002 to 2007) The Yearbook, Economics & Markets Department, Québec Forest Industry Council, Québec, Canada

  31. Ruel J-C, Achim A, Espinoza Herrera R, Cloutier A, Brossier B (2010) Wood degradation after windthrow in a Northern environment. Forest Prod J 60:200–206

    Google Scholar 

  32. Sinclair SA, Ifju G (1977) Processing beetle-killed southern pine—an opinion survey in Virginia. Southern Lumberman 235(2916):11–14

    Google Scholar 

  33. Snellgrove TA, Cahill JM (1980) Dead western white pine: characteristics, product recovery, and problems associated with utilization (Research Paper PNW-270). USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland Oregon, 63 pp

    Google Scholar 

  34. Sprugel DG (1983) Correcting for bias in log-transformed allometric equations. Ecology 64:209–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Willits S, Woodfin RO, Snellgrove TA (1990) Lumber recovery from dead ponderosa pine in the Colorado Front Range (research paper PNW-RP-428). USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland Oregon, 63 pp

    Google Scholar 

  36. Woo KL, Watson P, Mansfield SD (2005) The effects of mountain pine beetle and associated bluestaining fungi on wood morphology and chemistry: Implications for wood and fiber quality. Wood Fiber Sci 37:112–126

    CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to people involved in the field work: Eugénie Arsenault, Jean-Philippe Gagnon, Julie Gravel-Grenier and, Frauke Lenz. We would also like to thank Luc Bédard, Francis Tanguay, Ghislain Veilleux (FPInnovations), and Emmanuel Duchateau and Filip Havreljuk (Laval University) for their help during the sawmill trial. Our gratitude also goes to the Boisaco forest and sawmill staff for their valued collaboration in this project.


Financial support for this project came from FQRNT and the NSERC–Université Laval industrial research chair in silviculture and wildlife.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julie Barrette.

Additional information

Contribution of the co-authors

Julie Barrette was the first author on the manuscript, and carried out the main data analyses. She was principal investigator in the both the design and the implementation of the experiment.

David Pothier was the second author and contributed substantially to the manuscript. He was involved in the experimental design and data analysis, and was the main supervisor for the project.

David Auty helped to revise the manuscript, and contributed to the interpretation and presentation of the statistical results.

Alexis Achim helped to revise the manuscript, and contributed to the interpretation of the statistical results.

Isabelle Duchesne helped revising the manuscript. She was also involved in the design of the experiment and in the supervision of this project.

Nancy Gélinas made valuable comments on the manuscript, and was involved with the design of the experiment.

Handling Editor:

Jean-Michel Leban

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Table 9 Average prices between 2002 to 2007 from the Great Lakes market for specific lumber dimensions and grades. MBF is used to express «1,000 board feet». One board foot is equal to the volume of a board with dimensions 12” × 12” × 1”

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Barrette, J., Pothier, D., Auty, D. et al. Lumber recovery and value of dead and sound black spruce trees grown in the North Shore region of Québec. Annals of Forest Science 69, 603–615 (2012).

Download citation


  • Recently dead merchantable trees
  • Lumber value
  • Product recovery
  • Volume recovery
  • Wood degradation