Stacking and Drying Southern Yellow Pine

A sawyer gets advice on stacking and stickering Southern Yellow Pine, and on protecting it against insects. January 25, 2010

What is the best width for lumber stacks of SYP in south Arkansas and north Louisiana? Will six foot wide cause excessive mold, stain, etc? Will powder post beetles infest SYP? I have had a problem with some little critter boring tiny holes approximately one sixteenth in fresh sawn SYP. I have a much better appreciation for how hard it is to air dry lumber.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
I keep my SYP stacks about 42 inches wide. The packs are easier to handle with the loader and I can get two wide on my gooseneck without any problems. Most of the time you need to get the bark off of the boards, as the bugs get started there. Sticker as you saw this time of year to keep mold and stain down.

From contributor S:
It all depends on how long your forklift forks are and if you have to load the lumber onto trucks. 42" wide is about the standard for shipment. Most concentration yards I've seen use 6' widths for air and kiln drying then restack after final inspection.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
A lot of mills use 4' to 5' with a few going to 6', but the wider packs will not dry as fast so there is a risk of some staining. The lyctid PPB infests only hardwoods. You might have ambrosia beetles. Take a sample to your county extension office for identification.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the replies. How do you deal with the ambrosia beetle? Do they leave the lumber as moisture goes away? Also would they be in certain logs, or do they infest after sawing is done?

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
They go away after the moisture drops. They come in after sawing. They live in the wood debris on the ground, so they will come back again and again until the yard is cleaned. They can be sprayed for, but the spray only works during a few days of their life cycle, so usually spraying is not effective; cleaning the yard is effective.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. These little creatures showed up in a small amount of stickered wood in our garage. How much do the tiny holes weaken the lumber? Have not carried a sample to the county agent, but hope to do so today. Would covering the ground with tar paper under the stacks help to discourage these little pests? My stacks are at least eighteen inches above ground. When these were built I did not clean the ground of pine straw, etc., but have sprayed to keep grass and weeds away. How much does the moisture have to drop before they leave?