Maximising value in any timber crop is paramount to good woodland management and forestry. The key to this is having contacts with many niche markets which can be called upon when specific timber is located.
A niche market for Ash is the production of hurleys, which exploits the stress resistant characteristics of the timber and the fluting growth in certain ash to form the shape of the stick. Hurling is an Irish sport with similarities to Hockey, Lacrosse and Gaelic Football. A Hurler (player) may well expect to use several hurleys in a season with the common collision of two sticks during a match; therefore the requirement for more hurleys is constant.
The tree is felled by creating the felling cut at 1.3m on the trunk and then using bore cuts to allow for the fluting to be used when producing the hurleys. Extraction can be with small alpine tractors or quad bikes and therefore it is very low impact on sensitive sites. Once all of the butts are extracted, the volume is measured, de-barked, and they are then hauled to Ireland by lorry for milling.
Lockhart Garratt has recently combined a hurley sale with the thinning of a woodland. From 120 butts the estate has been paid £2,300.00 exc. VAT (at £190.00/m3) for timber that otherwise would be achieving £10-25/m3 (standing) for firewood.
The average price paid per m3 for hurley butts is around£190/m3 for standing timber. The remainder of the tree that is not taken by the hurley maker can then be sold into other suitable markets such as firewood and timber.Hurley makers are willing to travel throughout England to access good quality Hurley Butts. They require the lower 1.3m of an Ash tree measuring 20-45cm diameter at 1.3m which has fluting at the base of the trunk to form the striking end of the hurley. The number of butts required does not need to be very many to make it worthwhile.
If you think that you have Ash with the correct characteristics and would be interested in exploring the Hurley market, please get in touch and we would be happy to investigate any opportunities.