Northern producers will see continued good demand for soft maple and supplies could become tight. Hard maple supplies may similarly tighten if Far Eastern purchasing continues to pace ahead of last year. Among major Asian hard maple importers, only China is trailing last year’s pace.
Green prices have generally firmed ahead of what should be wider-spread firming in kiln-dried prices as supplies thin out. There will remain some downward pressure on white oak uppers through November, but red oak uppers will turn up sooner. Strong export demand will support additional Poplar price hikes before year-end.
With residential flooring plants, pallet manufacturers and tie treating plants aggressively pursuing raw materials—and crane mat and board road production seasonally higher—competition for low-grade lumber in the South will be quite intense this winter. Absent larger-than-expected sawmill production increases, we expect prices on these low-grade products to climb.
California’s new 1% tax on lumber sales, effective Jan 1, is intended to level the playing field for California producers, who are at a regulatory cost disadvantage to out-of-state companies. Since virtually all hardwood lumber sold in California comes from out of state, however, the tax will have very little net impact on hardwood sales.
Canadian housing starts have trended up for the past 18 months—albeit with much month-to-month volatility—but single-family starts in Québec and Ontario from Jul through Sept were 5.5% slower, on average, than during those same months in 2011. This explains some of the struggles facing Canadian strip flooring manufacturers.