Hard maple prices are still firm, partly because production was so low late last year that it has taken mills a long time to catch up on orders, and partly because demand has edged slightly higher of late. More hard maple is coming through kilns, however, and inventories of upper-grade and #1 Com will increase over the next two months, resulting in modest price reductions.
Darker stains on cabinets and furniture have been a boon to soft maple demand. Prices for 4/4 soft maple uppers are within $100 of the equivalent hard maple items in some areas, however, and that gap will only narrow another $10-15 before buyers balk at additional increases. Solid demand for #1 and #2 Com soft maple will continue into summer, though both are also near their price peaks.
Poplar has shown more “staying power” than at any time in recent memory, due as much to expanding domestic and international demand as limited production. In the U.S., distribution yards are selling more Poplar, and both moulding and furniture plants are using more. Poplar exports totaled a record 23.8 million board feet in March, despite historically low shipments to Italy, once the species’ largest foreign market. Poplar sales will remain robust in the U.S., the Far East and Mexico, with demand slipping throughout Europe. Higher production will cap prices within 30 days.
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