There is currently very active demand for a variety of hardwood lumber, with a common theme being that prices are up and inventories are down, and in some cases planned deliveries are running weeks behind due to several reasons, including a continued shortage of trucking and labor in general.  Unlike what we are hearing with the southern markets, hardwood stumpage is responding well, and timber sales are showing great bidding participation and price increases in almost all of the major hardwood species.

We continue to see hardwood lumber prices increase in every species, grade, and thickness.  Continuing our tracking since the beginning of the year, white ash (#1 Common 4/4) has increased the most significantly from $410/MBF to $600/MBF, or a 46% increase.  Black cherry (#1 Common 4/4) has increased from $635/MBF to $895/MBF (41% increase), hard maple went from $975/MBF to $1,340/MBF (37%), white oak increased from $975/MBF to $1,240/MBF (27%), red oak climbed from $730/MBF to $915/MBF (25%), and soft maple rose from $850/MBF to $960/MBF (13%).

Except for railroad ties, frame stock, pallet lumber, cants, and flooring have all increased as well since January 1st, with the biggest increases found in the white oak flooring (#1 Common 2-1/4”) category (31% gain).

As mentioned above, these lumber markets have pushed stumpage markets higher.  Stumpage sales have been very successful, with quality timber selling very well across almost all of the main species.

Key Market Comments – General Observations

White ash demand continues, though reports from the Weekly Hardwood Review’s April 30, 2021 issue mention that although “prevailing ash prices crept higher again…, price increases over the last month have slowed relative to the two months prior.  One New York producer said that ash timber quality has gotten very poor” (due to Emerald Ash Borer infestation).  Certain grades of cherry are moving better than others, but the overall demand is still substantial and steady.  Maple (both hard and soft) are beginning to flatten, though the demand remains quite robust as cabinet makers are reporting difficulty in securing what they need.  Red oak prices remain steady as well as flooring demand continues, and white oak continues to climb.

General comments are that though our hardwood markets will most likely experience the normal seasonal cycle, overall demand will remain robust.  With the housing market strong and the furniture industry predicted to see very good sales throughout the entire year, we are optimistic that this will be an exceptional year for our hardwood markets!

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

Lumber – Monthly Trends ( April 2 – April 30, 2021)

Lumber – Year-to-Date Trends ( January 1 – April 30, 2021)

Lumber – One Year Trends ( May 1, 2020 – April 30, 2021)

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. Please be patient as the demand for timber sales services has been very high!

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