How old are my trees?

Many people call me to tell me about their timber, wondering if they should cut their trees. The first question that I ask them is “how old is your timber.” Their response is usually I don’t really know but they are pretty big. From there the conversation usually goes into setting up a meeting for me to look at their timber in order to help them decide what to do. There are 3 ways to figure out the age of your trees.

The first and easiest way is the count the rings on a tree that has been cut down. One light colored line and one dark line make up one year of growth. Obviously the difficult part of this is that you have to cut down a tree in order to count the rings.

Another option for a landowner who does not want to cut down one of his trees is to count the branch rings on the outside of the tree. Typically, every year a tree grows a ring of branches around the trunk of the tree. Over time these branches break off but leave a small ring of knots where they grew. If you count the number of ring knots on a tree it will give you a very good idea of the approximate age of the tree. This is the least accurate method but it is the only one that does not require a special tool in order to give you an educated guess.

The final option is the way that I get an age count on a stand of timber. This method requires a boring device that bores into the tree and allows you to pull a piece of the tree out. With this small portion of the tree you can count the rings of the tree and get an accurate age reading for that particular tree.

Hopefully, this information may help any landowners who are wondering about the age of either one particular tree or an entire plantation of pine trees. If you want further information on your timber, please visit our website at and give me a call at 352-949-1058.

Eric J. Handley Forester Usher Land & Timber, Inc.