February 18, 2014
After several years of lackluster market demand, timber stumpage demand picked up in 2013 with early signs during the third quarter and strong fourth-quarter signs. That's the word from Mike Jacobson, Penn State Extension forester.
"This is the first quarter in a long time since I've seen sustained strong price increases," says Jacobson. "Decent weather, bulking up yard inventories and strong export demand were key drivers. The word is that prices will stabilize as we move into 2014."
MARKETS LOG UPWARD: Timber prices in Pennsylvania have showed strength in recent months. The question remains whether prices will level out by spring. The home-building economy may be a key influencer.
While there wasn't much overall price movement during third-quarter 2013, there were signs of strengthening. Prices seemed to be on a slow upward trend as activity picked up, he adds. That probably reflected growing demand, especially export markets, while supply was limited by sales and logger availability. One clue to the export demand was that the market for ash lumber has been strong.
Biggest quarter-to-quarter gains came in black cherry. In Northeast Pennsylvania for instance, black cherry stumpage prices jumped 38% from the third-quarter 2013 average to the fourth quarter, topping at $660 per 1,000 board feet (MBF) International ¼-inch. In Southeast Pennsylvania, black cherry climbed 69% to a $997 average – but with limited sales. Gains were less impressive, elsewhere – 11% to $757 in Northwestern Pennsylvania and 7% to $354 in Southwest Pennsylvania.
Quarter to quarter, market prices for white ash were consistently higher across all four regions, as Jacobson implies. While other timber species varied considerably, white ash in the Northeast averaged $223 per MBF, up 7% over third quarter. In the Southeast, the species averaged $310 per MBF, up 24%. In the Northwest, it averaged $221, up 5%. In the Southwest, white ash averaged $212, up 14%.
For a more detailed look at what's happening with Pennsylvania timber prices, click here .
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