During the short hiatus from reporting on our hardwood markets, we’ve seen definite improvement in the demand for our region’s hardwood species – a much needed and welcomed circumstance, especially after the crazy year we all just came through!

Though there are still a few minor “hiccups” in the supply chain – especially with labor force shortages in several areas – the increase in demand for and consequently the price of our hardwood species has been on the rise.  As for our lumber markets, virtually every species in every grade and thickness has shown a surge in price since the Fall of 2020, with some substantially since the beginning of this year.

To get some idea of the range and degree of these increases since last Fall, here are the extracted increases in price since 9/25/2020 for 4/4 #1 Common Lumber by species: Basswood (3%), Soft maple (4%), Hickory (11%), Ash (14%), Black cherry (22%), Hard maple (23%), white oak (42%), Poplar (44%), and Red oak (56%).  All other metrics – Low Grade material (pallet lumber and cants, railroad ties and frame stock), flooring material, log and lumber exports, and certainly housing starts are also showing positive upward trends.

Key Market Comments – General Observations

Both domestic and international demand continues, and log supplies are significantly improving in some areas (North Carolina and Tennessee), slightly improving in other areas (Pennsylvania), and not much so much in some (such as New York).  Depending on location and product, the industry is still contending with both supply (lumber) and labor shortages.  In some cases, secondary manufacturers are claiming that their margins are great, but very low volume to sell.

Though ash continues to fluctuate slightly from week to week, overall, it has shown an upward trend in all lumber grades.  In particular, the demand for kiln dried ash has been significant.  Basswood pricing has also popped up and fairly quickly over the last few weeks.  Black cherry continues to move upward as well, as the demand for various dimensions in uppers continues to be steady.  The high demand for flooring material has created increased prices in the various lumber categories for red oak, white oak and hickory, with one report stating that higher flooring prices “are allowing manufacturers to pay what they must to keep lumber inventories from depleting.”

Hard maple continues to rise, quite significantly since November, and there is reportedly “no signs of slowing down” in the near future.  Soft maple is also showing increases though not as significant as hard maple.  Poplar is also under increased demand, and certain concentration yards are reportedly paying in excess of the prevailing rates, as China is ramping up its demand (Hardwood Weekly Review, January 29, 2021).

The following charts illustrate the trends in price changes by species over various time periods:

As demand from our hardwood mills continues to ramp up, though we still see occasional challenges with low quality timber sales, bid sale activity is increasing and the sales of high-quality timber are bringing good results.  If you are interested in selling your timber, or just have questions about the process or even where to start, don’t hesitate to give our foresters a call!

As always, if you have timber you may be interested in selling, and want a long-standing professional forestry firm representing your best interests in the process, please don’t hesitate to call any of our FORECON offices.  Our foresters would be very happy to speak with you about the markets, and more importantly, your goals and objectives for your land.

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