Clemson Extension Forestry and Wildlife

Stumpage Price Trends and Logging Industry in South Carolina

Pulpwood Stumpage Trends in Q4, 2023: South Carolina statewide average pine pulpwood prices were $7.59/ton, and the hardwood pulpwood prices were $7.84/ton in the 4th quarter. Compared to pine and hardwood pulpwood prices in the previous quarter (3rd), it is an increase of 7% and 24%, respectively. Pulpwood prices were doing relatively better at the beginning of the year (1st and 2nd quarter) but continued to decline from the 3rd quarter. The average prices of pine and hardwood pulpwood were $8.71/ton and $7.87/ton in South Carolina for the whole year (2023). Overall, the average price for the year 2023 is higher than the prices in the 4th quarter because prices were a lot better in the 1st quarter.

graph with red and blue lines showing the difference in prices in pine and hardwood pulpwood stumpage prices.
Graph of South Carolina statewide pulpwood stumpage prices for Q1’23 to Q4’23. Graph credit: Puskar Khanal, Clemson University.

Sawtimber Stumpage Trends in Q4, 2023: Unlike pulpwood prices, sawtimber prices for both pine and hardwood were higher in the 4th quarter than the 3rd quarter. The statewide pine sawtimber prices were $23.26/ton, while mixed hardwood trees sold at $22.09/ton in the 4th quarter. The average prices of pine and hardwood sawtimber were $23.5/ton and $22.2/ton in South Carolina for the year 2023. Sawtimber had little change (less than a dollar) in stumpage prices this year.

graph with red and blue lines showing the difference in prices in pine and hardwood sawtimber stumpage prices.
Graph of South Carolina statewide sawtimber stumpage prices for Q1’23 to Q4’23. Graph credit: Puskar Khanal, Clemson University.

Data credit: The sawtimber and pulpwood price data included in this newsletter are published with permission from TimberMart-South Athens, GA 30605 email

WOOD MARKET IS LOCAL. Stumpage prices for both sawtimber and pulpwood in your local markets could vary significantly as compared to the above statewide averages depending on size and species composition, quality of timber, total acres and volume, logging operability, distance from nearby mills, and overall market condition.

Logging Industry in South Carolina
South Carolina has a vibrant logging industry and is one of the top timber harvesting states in the South. Appropriate timber harvesting activities ensure sustainable management of forestry practices and supply. These practices simultaneously contribute to the necessity of raw materials for forest products that industries depend on while generating employment and economic opportunities for local communities in South Carolina. In the recent forestry economic impact report (2020) by SCFC, the logging industry accounted for $523 million in economic activity and generated 6,087 job opportunities in the state. This industry has seen many changes in terms of the number of loggers and logging technologies over the years. The table below compares South Carolina’s logging industry regarding establishments, employees, and payment changes since 2019. These statistics were retrieved from the Labor Department Data Portal for South Carolina.

Table 1: South Carolina’s logging establishments, employees, and payment changes between 2019 and 2022.

Item 2022202120202019
Establishment #309305307322
Employee #2,3822,3712,4372,555
Average weekly wage$1,154 $971 $915 $897
Average annual wage$59,984 $50,468 $47,572 $45,722

In South Carolina, the number of privately owned logging establishments has declined from 322 to 309 between 2019 and 2022. Likewise, a similar decline in the number of positions mirrored the decline of logging establishments, having declined from 2,555 jobs to 2,382 between 2019 and 2022. This reduction of logging establishments and logging positions is not unique to South Carolina but follows a national trend that has become long-term. Contributing factors to the decline in logger positions could be a suppressed stumpage market, a change in logging technology, and a reduction in the number of sawmills over the years. The job decline could be attributed to major technological improvements to tree felling, skidding, and transporting stumpage to the mill. Modern machines used in logging and hauling these days have created a more efficient working environment, so much so that the days of logging with a saw and skidding to the mills by mule, horses, or oxen are the symbols of a bygone era.

Conversely, the average salary ($) received by South Carolinian loggers has witnessed an increase in both weekly and annual terms. The average weekly logger wage increased from $897 to $1,154 per week, while the average annual salary increased from $45,722 to $59,984 between the years 2019 and 2022. Factors contributing to the wage increase are likely higher skill requirements that are now essential for the operation of modern machinery, even as the number of logging establishments decreases in the state.

South Carolina has had a robust and dynamic logging industry from colonial times to the present day. Historically, Sumter County had 31 sawmills and was renowned as the lumber capital of South Carolina. Today, logging companies are well distributed all over the state, but select counties do have a higher number than others. For example, the majority of logging companies in South Carolina are in the following counties: Georgetown (26), Colleton (20), Florence (16), Hampton (12), and Spartanburg (11).


Puskar Khanal, Cooperative Extension, Forestry and Wildlife Specialist

Crystal Bishop, Clemson Climate Smart Forestry Project Manager

This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.