Our New Merch Spec System has Arrived!
Dr. Nan Pond
Dr. Nan Pond
4 August, 2015 min read

We have recently launched a new system for defining merchantability specifications for a cruise. These specs are used in two ways. First, they define the products you can call in the field when you’re cruising with Plot Hound. Second, they are used in calculating volumes for a premium report once your cruise is completed.

You can easily create new merch specs from your account on our website. There’s a link to the merch specs associated with each cruise and a drop-down menu to change them visible on the summary page for each cruise.

You start out with a set of ‘template’ merch specs- you can copy these and modify them for use with each new cruise. You can also save merch specs you create for a particular cruise as a new template, so that you can use it as the basis for other merch specs in the future. With time, you will build yourself a ‘library’ of custom templates specific to the forest types and size requirements for your typical cruises.

There are some top-level choices you make for a set of merch specs- the name, whether you’re in the eastern or western US (contact us if you’re outside the USA!), and whether it should be the default for all your cruises. You’ll also need to indicate if you want to merchandize topwood. If a trees should be able to produce more than one product (a pulp stick cut from above a saw log, for example), then ‘merchandize topwood’ should be marked! Otherwise, only one product will be taken from each stem.


Then, you can define as many ‘product rules’ as you want! Each rule at minimum takes a name and a list of allowable species. You can specify a minimum and /or maximum butt diameter, and a minimum top diameter as well. Please note that all of these settings are for outside bark diameters. You can also specify unique units for each rule.

Each product rule also has a more detailed menu of options that’s ‘hidden’ by default- these include ‘require explicit product call’, a key feature that means that product will only be used for trees where that product was specified in the field. For example, if you are defining a ‘veneer’ product, meeting dimensional rules would not be sufficient if that requirement was in place- you’d also have to have called that tree ‘veneer’ when measuring it. There’s also a ‘require full butt log’ option, which allows us to apply Scribner ‘long log’ rules in bucking and scaling.
Product rule ordering is extremely important- trees are checked to see if they meet the rules from the top down, so in general, you should put the most valuable and largest products at the top.

If you have multiple sawtimber species in your cruise, our premium reports will automatically include a breakdown of product by species. This means you don’t need to define separate sawtimber categories for each species (Sugar maple sawtimber, red oak sawtimber). One sawtimber product rule with multiple allowable species is all that’s necessary, because you’ll get a breakdown of that product from each species in your final report.

We’ll have a video up on our website soon that will walk you through this process. We’ve designed the system with you in mind, and we think you’ll find it intuitive. If you do encounter difficulties, we are here, as always, to assist you if you need help.

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about the author

Dr. Nan Pond

Dr. Nan Pond

Director of Certification
Dr. Nan Pond serves as the Director of Certification at NCX. She is responsible for ensuring that our natural capital products reflect the highest quality science as we hone our existing methods and expand into new credit types and new geographies. She is the recipient of the 2020 SAF Young Forester Leadership Award and has held multiple leadership roles within the Society of American Foresters. Dr. Pond earned a PhD in forest biometrics from Michigan Technological University and a Bachelor of Science in forest ecosystem science from SUNY ESF.