Virginia Pine Sawing and Use Characteristics

Also called "Jersey Pine" or "Spruce Pine," this tree yields useable lumber but is prone to rot, disease and insect damage. May 10, 2007

I have some logs I'm going to pick up soon - chestnut, white pine, and Virginia or jack pine. If my memory serves me right, that'd be Pinus Virginian - on that last species. I'm inclined to take all that VA pine and cut it up into 2X6s as I have a need for some for the new sawmill shed I'm going to tear into here in the spring. But, I've only ever heard of VA pine going into pulp around here. I assumed that was because it wasn't often found in sawlog size. These VA pine are sawlog size.

Can someone fill me in on any limitations to this species as far as structural lumber goes? If they are decent for structural uses, I'll take them down into 2X6s, but want to make sure, as I'm not willing to guesstimate on this issue when it involves something as important as holding a building in a vertical position. Before anyone mentions, this is not a code building, and grade stamping is not required - hence the reason I'm asking the web experts. Thanks all.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Virginia pine is also called Jersey pine or spruce pine, but I have not heard of it being called jack pine, which is another species. It is rare to see large trees. In fact, because the wood of older trees is frequently softened by fungal decay, Virginia pine provides nesting habitat for woodpeckers. Leaving old, decayed trees provides nesting sites. If the wood is not decayed (including incipient decay), it compares well to the main Southern yellow pine strength and stiffness properties. See Chapter 4 p. 13 for clear wood properties in the link below.

Wood Handbook

From contributor M:
In my area, Southern Maryland, we call it spruce pine. It is one of two pine species that grow abundantly here as native species. Boat builders prefer the Virginia Pine over the Loblolly Pine which is a longer leaf and faster growing tree, for its durability when used as hull planking for wooden boats of all sizes. Although it generally does not grow to be as large as the Loblolly Pine, its growth rings are usually tighter, and the knots are tighter - though there are more of them.

The local population is susceptible to disease, and many trees are seen broken or twisted over several feet up from their base. A local forester said this was due to red heart, which weakens the tree structurally. Despite this, there are many sizable trees that make good saw logs. The ones that grow on my woodlot seem to have a lot of crooks and bends in them compared to the Loblolly population. The boards and lumber that I have produced from what I though was low grade trees tended to dry much straighter than I would have thought. If the trees don't show much sign of disease, I wouldn’t think twice about making 2 x 6 or other construction material out of them. Lots of older homes around here also have floors laid out of V. Pine.