The timber market in our area is changing. Weather, global economics and the coronavirus are all affecting prices paid for standing timber.
One the plus side, the Chinese have removed tariffs on logs we ship to them. So walnut and white oak timber are selling well, as is usually the case. Also, there are now two buyers for white pine in our area. They are competing for plantation-grown pine (at least 100 trees) that can be either thinned or clearcut.
Prices of some other timber species are not as positive. Furniture-grade lumber is subject to discoloration during warm weather, so demand and prices for lumber and timber decline during summer. The coronavirus caused a shutdown of furniture showrooms, fewer orders for lumber and a drop in the price of some lumber species. The virus also interfered with new housing completions, causing a decline in demand for soft maple, which is used as painted trim.
Before the virus, the market for blocking or pallet-grade timber was better than usual. There are now a number of competing buyers for low-grade hardwood timber. As shipments of non-essential items dropped, demand for these products has slowed somewhat. Prices for blocking timber have lowered, but hopefully will return with an improving economy.
The market for timber is slow during most summers. Some species can be marketed successfully during June, July and August. Normally, the cooler weather brings an increase in the timber prices Hopefully, this summer won’t be too hot and fall will bring a healthy economy and a rise in timber prices.
— Martin Michel is a local consulting forester.