Fire managers often model pine needles as 1 h timelag fuels, but fuelbed properties may significantly change the rate at which needles exchange moisture with the atmosphere. The problem of determining whether moisture loss from fine fuels is being controlled by individual particles or by the fuelbed remains unresolved. Results from this laboratory experiment indicate that first-period timelags of longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) needles are altered by fuelbed loading and needle arrangement. Timelags of individual needles ranged from 3.3 to 5.3 h; timelags of beds of vertically oriented needles (4.4 to 8.6 h) approximated those of individual particles, but were slightly influenced by loading. Beds of horizontal needles dried with load-dependent timelags that varied from 6.5 to 31.6 h. Fuel loads ranged from 0.04 (for individual particles) to 1.07 kg m-2. We report a new metric, the area drying rate, which is analogous to a unit-area burning rate. For beds of flat needles, plots of the area drying rate versus fuel load illustrate a transition from control by individual particles to control by the bed structure when fuel loading is approximately 0.33 kg m-2. Beds of vertical needles were particle controlled. Results should be useful to fire managers when modeling fire behavior.