The summer months have seen steady market demand so far for hardwood timber across the Appalachian Region of the US. With generally good log supply available, lumber production has reportedly continued to increase. There are some indications though that prices may start to decline slightly, and for several reported reasons; 1) it is common that some species usually hit a lull in the summer months, but also because 2) the Chinese have increased fumigation requirements for imported logs which slowed down log export volumes a bit since April. The Weekly Hardwood Review (July 13, 2018) also indicates that “lumber shipments to China fell 9% in May, following record level January-April shipments and inventory buildups…….most (shippers) are still speculating that the slowing will last for 2-3 months and that shipments of both logs and lumber to China will pick up in the fall.”
Dimension wood users, including cabinet producers and flooring manufacturers, remain busy, with supply pretty much consistent with demand. Housing activity has kept wood products distribution yards busy, and “a tight labor market continued to be a concern, with some plants looking to invest in new equipment to offset the lack of workers.” (Ibid.)
We have heard that the US Department of Commerce is planning on placing a 10% tariff on the importing of wood products coming from China, starting in September. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the big scheme of things for sure. In the meantime, stumpage has been selling well, with continued robust prices and great bid participation.
Ash prices have leveled off, though it has been reported that supply has decreased a bit. Cherry remains fairly level at the moment as well, though there have been slight increases in the unselected 4/4 and 5/4 #2 Com grades primarily due to domestic markets. Hard maple demand has been consistent, and some yards have become over-stocked. Soft maple took a slight dip recently, but demand is still robust overall, with one mill noting that they have “sawn more soft maple already this year than (they) did all of last year and it moves.” Red oak has dipped a little as well, as it has suffered a little from the reduction in Chinese demand.