Pine straw yields and economic benefits when added to traditional wood products in loblolly, longleaf and slash pine stands
Many forest landowners have the opportunity to manage their loblolly, longleaf and slash pine stands for pine straw (fresh undecomposed needles; the litter layer) for additional revenues. Pine straw is used primarily as mulch in landscaping and has grown in revenues paid to landowners from $15.5 million in 1999 to $81 million in 2009 in Georgia. Pine straw is typically sold by the acre or by the bale. Selling pine straw by the acre is advantageous for absentee landowners. Selling pine straw by the bale can generate more annual income but bale counts need to be accurate and bale size must be clearly defined. Recent (2005-09) per acre revenues range from $50 to $125/year. Rectangular (13x13x28 inches) bale prices range from $0.25 to $0.40 for loblolly, $0.50 to $1.25 for longleaf, and $0.50 to $0.65 for slash pine in Georgia. Per rake yields from loblolly stands tend to be 15 to 30% greater (150 to 425 bales/acre) than slash (120 to 375 bales/acre) and longleaf pine (100 to 350 bales/acre). Pine straw raking starts at canopy closure continuing to the first thinning, generating from $300/acre to over $1000/acre in new income.