Job numbers reports were well above expectations in May, and though domestic demand for hardwood seems to have steadied, Chinese demand continues to increase. Though ash continues to be in heavy demand and flowing steadily from stump to mill, producers are reporting that production will wind down quickly in the not-too-distant-future as the merchantable material will eventually fade away.
Comments on ash markets are mixed across Appalachia, but most are saying that markets continue to be strong with anticipation of a slow-down coming as the larger stock dwindles and supply tightens. Un-substantiated remarks were made that we only have about three to four more years of ash left in the region. Export and domestic demand for cherry continues to increase, and cabinet and millwork producers are slowly but seemingly steadily increasing their call for this attractive wood again. Reports are that all cherry grades – even the #1 and #2 common grades – are increasing. Hard maple has gotten some of its market share back from soft maple according to some reports, with #1 common stock moving very well with manufacturers of cabinets. Other reports are that soft maple – especially the #1 common grade – has improved in demand and has shown an increase in spot price since last week. Red oak remains steady, but it will be interesting to watch the trend as ash begins to disappear from the supply chain. There is some expectation that pricing of #1 common red oak will stay steady and strong throughout the summer months (Weekly Hardwood Review).
General lumber market comments/trends in the Appalachian Hardwoods region:
Black cherry: + 10.9% (since Jan 6th 2017)
Hard (sugar) maple: –1.2% (since Jan 6th 2017)
Red oak; +0.6% (since Jan 6th 2017)
White ash; +11.3% (since Jan 6th 2017)
Soft maple; -2.5% (since Jan 6th 2017)
Perspective and % Changes are measured using data from January 6, 2017 to June 2, 2017