Known as Alberta’s provincial tree, lodgepole pine is recognized by most Albertan residents by its tall straight narrow crown. On average 24 metres in height, lodgepole pine is typically found in dense, even-aged stands formed as a result of forest fires. In Alberta, pine accounts for over 600 million m3 or 41% of the provincial coniferous growing stock (26% of the province’s combined coniferous and deciduous growing stock). Exceeded by only the spruces, lodgepole pine contributes the highest volume to the timber harvest in Alberta.
Pines in Canada can be classified into two groups; soft pines and hard pines. Both lodgepole pine and jack pine are hard pines. They have prominent latewood, therefore the wood is moderately hard and heavy.
The most important use of lodgepole pine is for lumber, sold as SPF lumber. It is also used with spruce and fir for producing 100% bleached Kraft pulp and chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (CTMP). It is a good species for the manufacture of composite board due to its suitable wood density, a tendency to plasticize when compressed at high temperatures yielding panels with a smooth surface, its gluing ease, and its uniform ring density. Lodgepole pine is firmly established as a first class joinery wood for furniture, windows, doors and shutters, panelling, siding, mouldings, and other architectural millwork and joinery items. Other uses of lodgepole pine include telephone poles, fence posts and corral rails (because of its small diameter and lack of taper), mine timbers, railway ties, and fuel.
Lodgepole pine is produced predominantly as SPF lumber* in structural grades according to National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) rules for dimension lumber. Select Structural, #2 and better, and stud grades are the most common grades produced. Specialty in-house grades, lamstock and export grades are also available. Lodgepole pine is the largest component of the SPF species mix that is available preservative treated. Appearance grades can also be produced according to NLGA rules. Clears, shop lumber and moulding stock are most common, though there are many potential appearance grades that can be produced.
* Marketed as structural lumber in the SPF (spruce-pine-fir) species mix. SPF includes lodgepole pine, white spruce, Engelmann spruce, red spruce, black spruce, jack pine, balsam fir, and subalpine fir.