Red oak sales and selling prices have shown increasing strength in recent weeks, driven largely by robust exports and solid demand from domestic flooring plants. This week’s market comments about red oak in each producing region reflected this reality:
Overseas buyers purchased all grades of 4/4 red oak in large quantities along with sizeable volumes of other items, straining already thin supplies. Prices for red oak have reacted as expected, heading higher on many items. Some flooring manufacturers indicated that they had enough raw material on-hand at the moment, but others appear to be taking up the slack, keeping flooring-grade red oak moving at a dizzying pace.
Red oak prices have risen very rapidly over the last three weeks, as confirmed by a special red oak survey this week and by comments gleaned at the NHLA convention last week. With very little air-dried lumber behind the kilns, one seller guessed that 30% of the recent red oak price increases were due to demand and 70% to supply. With so many offers coming in, one sawmill said it wouldn’t quote red oak prices past mid-November.
Demand for all grades of 4/4 red oak climbed last week. Heavy Chinese purchasing was the largest driver of sales gains in 4/4 FAS/1F and #1 Common red oak, while most domestic flooring plants kept pushing for 4/4 #2&3A Common in both green and kiln-dried.