People often ask why we are sprinkling the logs. Partly for fun I usually say; “Take off all your clothes and lay out in the sun all day every day for a month. After that month, what does your skin look like?” The humor also conveys that the tree was a living organism up to harvest time. Once harvested, the log cannot move water around inside the tree and starts to dry out.
Any of the species will start to stain and check if left outside in the sun for weeks on end. Checking is cracks forming along the grain lines in the tree. Both stain and checking can go quite deep into the logs, creating defects where there were none. Sprinkling logs helps prevent end checking and slows deterioration caused by insects , fungal stain, and decay.
For the open grained species, red and white oak, cherry and ash, sprinkling helps protect the logs from the effects of drying out. This helps keep the logs cooler and perhaps helps keep the bark on slightly. There is some staining, particularly in the sapwood of red oak, yet overall, the quality of the wood is maintained well by sprinkling. Oak and ash also do fairly well sitting in stickered packs in the yard after being sawn, with some staining but generally maintaining the quality of the lumber.
For the white wood species, hard and soft maple, plus yellow birch, sprinkling would be a recipe for disaster. The white woods are more likely to stain to start with and sprinkling makes any stain worse. Also, once the log is sawn the lumber would have to go in the kiln immediately or the lumber will stain even more and can grow moldy. Any stain, checks, bruise marks and other defects show up vividly in the finished product and so they are a defect, like filling the boards with extra knots. It’s a sure way to lose the value of the product and have unhappy customers.
High quality logs equals high quality lumber!