North American hardwood sawmills were generally happy with the pace of business during the first half of August. While sales have slowed, as is normal in August, warehouses have not filled up. Mills in most areas have enough logs for this time of year, with the exception of parts of the South, where wet weather has restricted logging. The vast majority of mills are operating normal hours or some overtime, and production continues to increase. Declining prices were the norm for a number of species in early August, but most tell us they expect better business—particularly in export markets—and firmer pricing in September.
Demand for low-grade, industrial lumber remained very good. Pallet cants were in tight supply and prices firmed in early August, particularly in the Appalachian region. Demand for railroad ties was strong in all regions, and prices for several tie sizes rose dramatically during the last 30-45 days. Some mills reported slowing crane mat sales. Even though overall demand for board road has slowed, particularly in Canada, buyers in some areas still couldn’t find enough due to heavy competition from other industrial markets.
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