As we enter the final month of the third quarter, following is a brief report on markets, news, and other developments that impact forest landowners in F&W’s operating regions. The information in this report is based on a recent survey of F&W managers.
Southeastern managers report timber markets are functioning normally in the third quarter, with average sales activity and prices for the most part. The one exception is Florida, where the manager said both timber sales activity and prices are increasing. While he notes that pulp mills are full and issuing quotas for part of each week as dry weather has persisted, sawtimber mills are beginning to call for new sales to come to market. In southwest Georgia, managers report that timber harvest activity has been steady through the summer months and timber prices have gone down due to dry conditions but are still holding above the market prices from two years ago. Across the state, in southeast Georgia, the manager notes that export logs have slowed and he is seeing a few spot market opportunities for specific wood types, terrain, and logistics. In Alabama, the manager notes that fuel prices and logging parts and equipment shortages have made conditions tough on logging companies over the last several months. He said most mills are "helping" by increasing payments to producers to help maintain a viable logging force. He added that there have been a few casualties as some loggers are shutting down or going out of business all-together. Nonetheless, he said stumpage prices across his service region are still better than pre-pandemic. He said he continues to sell timber but loggers are pickier and tracts with tough access are much harder sells now. The manager in South Carolina says that the western part of his region remains somewhat slow because of the distance to wood markets but the central part is stable for this season. He adds that the eastern (Pee Dee) portion of his region has strong prices and good demand, likely from a wet late summer.
Timber markets are a mixed bag in the West Gulf region during the third quarter. In Texas, the manager states that prices are declining, with the WestRock mill at Evadale full all summer, making pulpwood hard to move. He added, “An unseasonably dry winter, spring, and summer has left all mills full, creating a drop in prices across the board. Pulpwood is especially hard to move, making thinning operations very difficult.” In Mississippi, the manager says that prices are increasing and demand remains strong at all mills except at Mississippi Resources, which has shut down for a month or so due to maintenance. Overall, he said demand for all products is staying high and this is causing the prices to remain high. He expects this trend to continue through the end of the year, particularly considering the anticipated startup of the new Mission Forest Products sawmill in Corinth later this year.
Timber markets in the Central Hardwood region are functioning normally for this time of year but prices are starting to decline. The manager covering East Tennessee up to West Virginia reports that “mills are beginning to slow down some to sort out oversupply in lumber markets.” He said red oak and poplar prices are declining while white oak and chestnut are at all-time highs.
In the Northeast, managers report timber markets and sale activity in the third quarter as normal for this time of year with prices mixed based on the type of wood product. In the midstate New York region, the manager said overall prices in his area are declining. He adds that pulpwood is moving very well with better prices but that “hardwood sawlog markets are getting worse with slowing housing and foreign market contractions. Softwood lumber is doing okay except for white pine, which still shows strong demand and pricing.” In upstate New York, the manager says that hardwood sawlog prices and demand are softening a bit and sugar maple is still the most in demand. He adds, “Black cherry is not in demand and the mill prices reflect that. Softwood prices are good with spruce/fir stable and white pine is in demand and paying well. Hardwood pulpwood is in demand as both regional mills need fiber.” In New England, markets for hardwood logs remain strong with good prices but pulpwood is always more difficult to sell due to mill locations and trucking issues.
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