Hardwood log supplies were low at sawmills throughout the Upper Midwest and Northeast and in parts of the Appalachian region. “Logs? I’m measuring my log inventory in terms of hours of availability, not days,” said one Northeastern sawmill owner. While this log supply situation was extreme compared to other mills in the same region, these types of comments are becoming common. Many producers are holding out hope for an early freeze this year, which would allow loggers to get back in the woods and resume cutting.
Several sawmillers reported that the supply of contract loggers is critically low. One mill owner said he used to have seven or eight logging contractors; today he only has four. His foresters all believe it will be difficult to increase log production if and when hardwood lumber demand recovers.
Kiln-dried red oak prices appear to be stabilizing in all producing regions. While prices for some red oak items will ease a bit lower during the next several weeks, the big drops of the past few months are largely over. Southern and Appalachian red oak prices are nearly at their respective floors, while Northern prices have a little further to fall.
Andy Johnson is the Southern Regional Editor for Hardwood Publishing Co.
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